by Stephen Sheinbaum, founder of Bizfi
Every entrepreneur starts out with dreams of success. Those dreams can fuel any business as it secures loyal customers and achieves a consistent revenue stream, but that may not be enough to take it to the next level: its transformation into a larger company. To get to that stage, a small business may need a top-to-bottom evaluation of its existing business practices and tactics, and the implementation of new growth strategies.
Here are five strategies business owners can use to take their company to the next level, while enjoying the success they have already established:
1. Find new ways to sell your current products.
According to a recent survey by UPS, the adoption of online shopping is accelerating. If your small business doesn’t already sell online, 2017 is a great time to get started. Pursuing new sales channels while maintaining your current brand can help diversify your products and attract more customers to your business. To get started online, evaluate what your most popular in-store items are. Get them ready to be sold online, with good photos and enticing descriptions. You can then begin to sell through your own website (once you’ve updated it with e-commerce software), or through social media or a purpose-built e-commerce platform. There are now many different platforms out there; some that let you start for free and add paid features as your business grows.
2. Introduce new products and services that complement what you already sell or do.
Introducing items that build on the products you already have can help generate new sales and improve customer satisfaction. The Edward Lowe Foundation, which focuses on entrepreneurship, has created a helpful tutorial on how to expand current product lines. Remember that you don’t need to develop and manufacture a new product yourself; that can be costly and time-consuming. You can, instead, license new items or become an authorized distributor for a product you think will appeal your customers. Just be prepared to measure how well the new product is meeting your customers’ needs and revise your strategy if necessary.
3. Streamline your day-to-day tasks.
As your business grows, your already enormous workload as an entrepreneur could become overwhelming. You’ve got to take steps to improve your operations and that begins with technology, like incorporating a cloud-based accounting system and social media management tools. There are also several small business-size options available to improve customer support, a function that is critical to a successful expansion. Think, too, about which parts of your job should now be handed off to others in your organization, and train them in their new responsibilities.
4. Evaluate your sales team.
Successes and mistakes, and helping them to do their jobs better. Nolo.com has good advice on employee evaluations. Look for the employees who are most ready to sell new products and services, and see if they should also be given a promotion to reflect their new responsibilities. If it is time to hire additional salespeople, there are some helpful guidelines here.
5. Evaluate other markets for expansion.
One of the best ways to expand your small business is to open in new markets, which can place your products in front of a more diverse customer base. Start by reminding yourself who your ideal customer is and where they are likely to be found. If that means venturing into unfamiliar territory, follow these guidelines from the U.S. Small Business administration on choosing a new location.
Stephen Sheinbaum is the founder of Bizfi, an aggregation marketplace that offers many kinds of alternative funding, from short-term finance to longer term loans, equipment finance and lines of credit. Since 2005, Bizfi has originated in excess of $2 billion in funding to more than 35,000 small businesses, including many well-known franchises.