By Roshawnna Novellus
Every entrepreneur wants to know how to grow a business. Businesses are a lot like plants in a well-tended garden — you can’t just plant them and wait for them to do their own thing. You've carefully selected your idea and planted it, and now you’re ready to feed and water it to help it bloom. As someone who helps businesses reach their intended growth level, this advice typically applies to all companies. Below are six ideas for how to grow a business:
- Sales: You already know that selling your product or service will bring in greater income. But take sales a step further by diversifying and expanding. Consider selling to a different market, expanding your business to a different city, state or country, and branching out online. Always be on the lookout for new ways to sell. One great way to do this is to set up joint venture partnerships with complementary companies. You will gain additional income stream by affiliation. Partnerships have helped me increase revenue streams in my own business.
- Reinvestment: One of the best ways to grow a business is to direct some of your early profits back into your business. Buy equipment and efficiency tools, or host seminars for your employees to promote productivity, creativity and teamwork. Purchase software to make your employees’ lives easier. Use some of that money for marketing, which is essential to a business’ success.
- Time Management: Good time management skills are essential for both you and your employees if you want to see your business grow. Consider, as mentioned above, hosting seminars for your employees about how to better manage their workday hours. Use planners and schedules liberally. Prioritize what needs to be done and when, and teach your staff how to do the same. My favorite scheduling tool is Calendly. It ensures that all my key meeting types are in alignment with my preferred structure.
- Organization: What will the market be like next quarter or next year? How about five years from now? If you want to learn how to grow a business successfully, you must be able to anticipate trends and plan accordingly. You don’t want to be left behind as technology and the world change! Stay current by reading about your field and learning from other businesses. With the ever-changing ecosystem, I try to keep on top of trends by monitoring peer groups and events. This helps with my business strategy and planning.
- Adaptability: Grow a business by remaining fluid and adaptable. When your customers and their needs change (and they will), you must be able to adapt. Not only should you remain fluid as an entrepreneur, but you must also see to it that your business does as well. Your ideas may be brilliant, but if customers don’t want them, you need to be able to get right back to the drawing board and come up with more that they will like. I had to adapt soon after I started my business: I originally focused only on educating low-income taxpayers, but I quickly realized that I couldn't stay in business if all of my clients couldn't pay for my services. As such, I have to allocate that work to my community service and target another client sector for my revenue goals.
- Customer Satisfaction: It’s tempting to focus a lot of effort on increasing your customer base, but you should start with improving the satisfaction of the customers you already have. Concentrate on improving their experiences. Ask for feedback. Find out what they want to get from your business. If you can make your current customers happy, they’ll be more likely tell their friends about your excellent service. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most powerful advertisements.
If you want to learn how to grow a business, you need to up your sales game, reinvest in your business, manage your time wisely, think ahead, adapt and make your customers happy. Keep these six simple ideas in mind and soon you will see your business flourish.
Dr. Roshawnna Novellus is the co-founder of Bootstrap Capital, Host of Startup Funding, and serves on the Commission on Women for Atlanta.