Sooner or later, most business owners wonder about how to grow their businesses. While it might seem easy — just sell more! — you need a plan or else you're going to waste time on things that cost you money without actually getting you anywhere.
Today I'm going to help you build a plan to grow your business.
6 steps to business growth
Sure, you could just wear yourself out running as fast as you can. Or you could be strategic about growing your business.
- Understand your potential.
- Set measurable goals.
- Reach out to new customers.
- Look at systems and automation.
- Seek endorsements.
- Take time off.
Anything is possible if you go about it the right way. Here’s how to grow — without losing your mind.
1. Understand your potential
To get started, you need to understand the potential in your business. That means knowing everything from how many leads become customers as a percentage of the total leads that come in to knowing what your budget is for marketing.
If you're using a CRM (customer relationship management) tool, then it should be able to give you information on how many leads you get, and how many you land.
If you're turning 30% of your leads into clients and you want to generate 10 more clients this month, that would mean you need around 34 new leads coming into your business.
If you don’t have a CRM or are starting from scratch, you can use Facebook analytics and a few low-cost ads to gauge the interest of your desired leads based on various key phrases. You could also use your email list analytics and different calls to action to see which items are the most desirable for your users.
2. Set measurable goals
Step two in growing your business is having a measurable goal. Far too many business say they want more sales and leave it at that.
Technically more in a month is more sales, so you're off the hook.
Taking our example above of 10 new clients, we know that we need 30 new leads to come in next month to hit that goal.
If you're using a CRM, you should also know which avenues are most effective at turning leads into clients.
3. Reach out to new customers
In The Dip, marketing genius Seth Godin says:
“Sure, some of the people in a market have considered you (and even rejected you). But most of the people in the market have never even heard of you.”
Seth goes on to explain that it’s easy for business owners to think of “the market” as a single entity. But it’s actually made up of different people or companies, all hoping to solve a unique problem.
Using your measurable goal (e.g. 10 new customers per month), he suggests you try all of the marketing methods you can think of. This might include:
- Promotional emails
- Phone calls or texts
- Google ads
Once you’ve found a few that move you toward your goal, stop your other efforts and focus on those, advises Seth.
4. Look at systems and automation
Any time you're not doing the work that gets you paid is time you’re not growing your business. That may be entering your receipts or filing things. Not all businesses can hire someone to do these mundane tasks, but automation can help.
I never file my receipts.
I use DEVONthink or Hazel and their automation rules to deal with the scanned receipts that I need to track for my business. This also means that I don't have to store paper receipts, which ultimately cuts down on my office costs because I don't have to worry about storing paper.
With good automation you can set and forget your:
- Social media posts (Hootsuite)
- Your follow up emails to prospects (an email tool)
- Abandoned cart recovery efforts
Make a list of the repetitive tasks that you have to do, and spend some time automating the ones you do most often.
5. Seek endorsements
When I talk to other business owners who are struggling to bring in work, one of the first things we look at is the tools they use to provide value to their clients.
If they build eCommerce websites, we look at their preferred platform to see if that platform has any partnership opportunities available. I'm a recommended developer for many of the tools I use and each one brings in many leads a month.
Take a step back and look at your industry. Can you get listed as a recommended service provider for any of the tools or systems you use? In most cases even a certification process that takes time or costs you money will pay off in the leads that it brings to your door.
6. Take time off
Finally, one of the best things I did to grow my business was to work less. No more weekends or evenings. I even take the last half of every Friday off to read a book or talk to the regulars at my favourite coffee shop.
The reason this helped me grow my business is that it put more constraints on my time and forced me to evaluate my work.
Now I focus on the most profitable projects.
It meant I stopped the bigger-ticket work that looked very profitable because of big cheques, and started to focus on the work that felt like it earned less.
The thing is, the smaller price tag projects let me automate more work. As a result I can serve more customers, which means I earn more by the hour than I did when getting $20k cheques for a web project.
Work will always expand to fill the time you've given it, so give it less time. Focus on the most profitable work you can be doing.
It isn’t hard to grow your business
If you're ready to expand your business, sit down with the plan I've provided.
Take the time needed to understand the potential of your business and set measurable goals. Reach out so that more people know about you and investigate automating many of your regular tasks. Take a look at your tools and see if you can become the recommended resource for customers.
Finally, put some constraints on your workday so that you're forced to get crisp with how you spend your time.
If you can walk through this plan, you can start to grow your business.
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