Our last article, “How to Grow Your Small Business,” gave you a broad view of growing your business. In this follow-up blog, “Preparing to Grow Your Small Business,” we will begin to look at the steps needed to ensure your growth plan is successful.
You probably have an idea of what your ideal customer looks like. However, we want and need to get the clearest possible view of this customer.
Now that you are growing your business, it is essential to know if your current customer is the same one you will be selling to in the future.
Identifying your current customers is the best place to start when you want to grow your small business. They have demonstrated that they are the ones who like your products and who trust you.
They will want to be the first people you reach out to, and they will help you grow.
Use your systems to review the following.
This may be a step where you already claim to know and understand. While that may be true, please do not pass on doing these steps again, as it will give you concrete information to work with.
Your goal here is to discover what your current customers may have in common so you can use your tools to help grow your small business.
You probably have created an original Ideal Customer Avatar, so going back and revisiting it may seem redundant.
However, because you want to grow your business, you must repeatedly look at your customer Avatar.
The business world is moving ever so quickly, and marketplaces are changing, so you want your avatar to be as current as possible.
When reviewing your data on your avatar, remember that there are two essential graphics to look at.
Now that you have an updated customer avatar, you can find exactly who to market and sell to.
You want to discover those people who are look-alikes to your current avatar.
Take a complete look at social media in your efforts to grow your customer list.
In the past few years, this world has exploded and is doing so daily. Business needs have expanded, and digital marketing is here to stay.
Here are the leading social media platforms to consider.
You will discover absolute value concerning information for future marketing and product development.
Don’t stop there. Visit other places such as:
All the above provide an opportunity to speak with potential customers, asking them to reveal what challenges they face, their needs, and what they are looking to achieve.
Numbers are essential when planning to grow your business and help you keep ahead of your competition.
Expansion often calls for investment, either by yourself or new investors.
However, before you reach into your pocket, you should clearly understand your financial well-being.
You have to look closely at all the money flowing through your current business.
Knowing figures on precisely what is coming into and going out of your business and where your business stands today is so important. Having those types of analytics available can only help manage and grow your business faster.
Regardless of your reasons for growing a business, you will need a clear and transparent view of your current financial status.
Find out just where your profits are made. Don’t make assumptions here.
Look at your current offerings and ask the following questions.
As a small business owner, you naturally have a close relationship with your products and customers.
Surviving in business is always dependent on sales and profit.
There is a point where you also have a satisfaction level attached to the products you offer as you create them.
Successful products are like your children. You created and watched them sell, providing a memory of your time in their creation.
The time is here to review this satisfaction.
The bottom line is crucial, as we know. However, so is the satisfaction level you get from creating and selling your products and services.
Now is the time to look at the following.
A SWOT analysis is a handy template designed to examine the push and pull factors for future growth.
A SWOT analysis is a method where four quadrants make up the matrix:
“SWOT Analysis is a tool that can help you to analyze what your company does best now, and to devise a successful strategy for the future. SWOT can also uncover areas of the business that are holding you back, or that your competitors could exploit if you don’t protect yourself.
A SWOT analysis examines both internal and external factors – that is, what’s going on inside and outside your organization. So some of these factors will be within your control and some will not. In either case, the wisest action you can take in response will become clearer once you’ve discovered, recorded and analyzed as many factors as you can.” (https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm)
Strengths in this specific model are the good things that are happening in your business and include:
Recognize your strengths by looking back at your business successes. If you have garnered industry awards in your business, make them well known. Don’t be shy.
If your customer base is strong, shout it out! Encourage and broadcast all the testimonials that you receive from customers. Let everyone know just how your products and services have changed people’s lives for the better. But understand that not all small business owners can say what you can.
In this model,” weaknesses” refer to areas of your business that are not as healthy as they could be. For example:
The purpose of identifying your weaknesses is to ascertain where improvements are possible or alternative strategies need to be implemented, as these will impact the growth of your business.
It is usually easy to find your weaknesses as they show up as:
Here are some questions to help identify weaknesses:
The other two quadrants in the SWOT matrix are opportunities and threats. You may have recognized that strengths and weaknesses are all internal to the business and under your control. On the other hand, opportunities and threats are external factors out of your control, such as changes in consumer behavior, government regulation, and policies or new technology. As they are not under your control, we are not going to comment on them further at this time.
The road to business growth has many curves and bumps that you will experience. The steps we have identified relate to gathering information. You can flag areas for improvement but don’t get bogged down with trying to find solutions at this stage.
We will continue our “How to Grow Your Business” series next week so check back for the next part of the process.
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Ed Carey, AMG, LLC