I’m often asked what I would do if I had to start over today. What I’m really being asked is, if I was in their shoes with a business that was just opening its doors for the first time, what would I do? How would I grow a business?
If I had no brand, no clients, no online presence and no goodwill, how would I grow a business? How would I build a profitable business?
It’s a great question, and one that has been asked or considered by every new business owner. Entrepreneurs set out with grand ideas and a great vision hoping to change the world and provide a living for yourself and your family. You hope that your new business venture will be the key to your financial freedom.
Unfortunately, when you open the doors, you discover that new clients don’t just start walking through them on their own.
In this article we’re going to look at and break down five simple strategies to grow a business. You can implement them today to increase traffic and the flow of new clients to their business.
More importantly in this particular article, we will focus entirely on free strategies that will allow you to begin to grow a business without requiring you to spend money for social media or pay per click advertising.
Anyone who has spoken with me for five minutes, will know that I am staunch advocate for effective advertising, but I also understand that not every entrepreneur starts with a hefty marketing budget. So we going to look at things you can do immediately to begin moving the needle and growing your business.
Without further ado here are our…
5 Simple Strategies To Grow A Business
#1 Open Your Mouth
This may seem obvious, and yet it is one of the key failings of many small businesses. People just don’t know who you are, what you do and what value you can provide for them.
As a result they aren’t going to be able to call on you. If you want people to begin chasing your products and services, you need to spread awareness and that starts with you.
Start talking about what you do, drop it in to conversations, not in an uncomfortable or overbearing way. Simply begin to spread the word of who you are and what you do.
Did you get a great win for a client? Talk about it. Obviously you don’t want to reveal any confidential or private information, but spreading the word of the results you’re obtaining in your chosen field are going to help you raise awareness of your business and what you have to offer. It will drive potentially interested customers to your door.
Studies have shown that as many as fifty percent of the population are introverts, I can relate. I consider myself to be quite introverted. This tendency to keep to oneself might be stifling the natural growth of your business.
I’ve worked in tax for 15 years and I have to tell you, when I go to a dinner party, a birthday party or any other kind of function where I meet new people. Seldom do I get out of the party without someone saying, “Sam, I heard you’re in tax, can I run a quick question past you?”
Those quick questions and casual advice shared in a passing moment have won me more than a few clients.
People knowing what you do, allows you to add value to their life, and they will connect that value with you and your business.
So don’t forget to open your mouth, it’s free and will help you to open the door for new customers.
#2 Develop An Online Presence
When it comes to growing a business in this digital age, there is no excuse for not having an online presence. An increasing majority of the population search for their desired products or services online.
When was the last time you pulled out a phone book? A decade? Maybe two? It’s the same for everyone else., including your potential clients. You must be where your clients are looking now, if you want them to find you.
One of the best of these is Google My Business. It’s completely free to create and maintain your business listing. You can begin to build your profile in your local community. In fact it’s these Google local search results that are promoted almost to the exclusion of all else in local community searches.
Ensuring that you have a complete My Business profile, along with posts, customer reviews, product and service descriptions and opening hours, will allow you to begin to bring traffic from your local area.
Only this morning I received an email from Google telling me that 619 people had viewed my page in searches in the last month.
Think about that. As a result of a free listing 619 people looked at our business, our brand and our message.
They used that listing to decide whether or not they would use us as their accounting firm of choice. I know for a fact that this week, that free listing drove a new client to our business that will pay $2500 in fees each and every year into the future.
Think of the power of a free listing generating ongoing revenue into the future.
You might be thinking, I don’t have reviews, and I don’t have time to spend on these sorts of wild goose chases.
I’m telling you, this is exactly what you have time to spend on. (Not the geese, the lead generation). If you aren’t already flooded with customers, then you need them. Invest the time into customer and lead generation.
The review problem is easily solved. You can go after them one by one as you successfully assist clients. Encourage those who you have achieved great results for to leave a review.
Most new businesses have minimal presence in their local search areas. Many well-established businesses still have less than 15 reviews. You can quickly build a Google My Business listing that through focused effort that will overtake your competition and generate paying clients for your business for years to come.
For any local provider of goods and services this is an incredibly powerful tool for building your business.
#3 Be active on social media
I’m not talking about trawling the news feed on Facebook. That just might be one of the greatest time wasters of our generation. What I am talking about, is being active and present in communities where your clients might congregate. I spend very little time on my news feed, but I spend a considerable amount of time in groups and other places where experts and potential clients congregate.
Remember your network directly influences your net worth.
This month I was participating in a Facebook group for authors. Some of you might know that I’ve published a number of best-selling books. I routinely seek to improve my craft.
One particular group I’m a member of, has 31,000 other authors in it and is one of the largest repositories for self-publishing information on the Internet. A quick search of that group revealed there are many other Australian authors in it. Some of whom had questions about their tax. If only there was a self-published author, who lived in Australia, who also knew a little bit about tax? Bingo.
I simply searched out each query I could find and provided a meaningful answer to it. I wasn’t actively soliciting for clients or trying to sell my services. I simply informed them of who I was and my experience, that way they knew the answer came from a position of authority, and then I provided a useful answer to their question.
One of the questions was a detailed query about tax structures, which just happened to be one of our firm’s specialties. So I provided an in-depth explanation of how structures worked in Australia. That post has now become the definitive post for helping Australian authors choose a structure. Unsurprisingly I now routinely get private messages and comments of people looking for further help with their tax.
One such client came to us last month and in due course we have been able to prepare and lodge six tax returns for that individual.
Think of it.
I spent 20 minutes answering questions and building a presence where potentially interested clients could find and contact me. I did it in a non-offensive, non-overbearing, non-selling manner. Because I established my identity and authority and provided something of value, I was able to bring new clients into my business. Those six tax returns generated a little over $1300 in revenue. Not a bad return on a few minutes of my time.
Be active on social media and other places your clients might congregate, but be smart about it. Everyone is out there pushing their products or services, remember the key purpose in business is to add value to someone’s life. If you can add value to people’s lives you’ll never have trouble finding clients or getting them to pay you.
I’ll post my social media comments below where you’ll see me almost fending away potential clients. And yet that exact post resulted in us generating $1300 in revenue.
#4 Grow Your Business By Growing Your Revenue
I’m not talking about multi-level marketing here. What I’m talking about, is building a network of other related individuals and business owners who know, like, and trust you.
My phone rings every week, if not every day with a referral from one of our network or associated partners and advisers.
Keep in mind, I’m not talking about people referred to us by our clients, that happens all the time. What I’m talking about is other professionals who consistently refer their clients, their family, and their friends to us.
We are an accounting practice and over the years we’ve built up a diverse network of mortgage brokers, bankers, lawyers, insolvency specialists, financial planners, real estate agents, and others business owners who send new business to us.
These relationships didn’t start in a day, but have steadily been built over time. Each of these relationships sends valuable business to us every year. In fact, in the last 18 months we’ve generated over $100,000 of revenue that was sent to us by other accounting practices.
Conventional business owners might have viewed these accountants as competition but what we realized as we analysed their product and service offerings was, that we specialize in areas they weren’t willing to practice in. The also inevitably had clients who needed help in those areas.
Now we reached out and offered our services to assist them, at the same time we also promised them that we would never try to steal the rest of the client’s business away from them. We would simply do the work they needed help with, and leave the client firmly and safely in their accounting practice. Many competing accounting practices would have used the opportunity to take the rest of the business.
This is exactly what they wanted to hear. By us recognising their pain point and being able to add value to their clients and their practice, we turned an enemy into a friend and these friends now send us a considerable volume of business. All because we identified an opportunity and do business with integrity.
What if your competition started to send you business?
While the circumstances of each business might be different, what I want to awaken in you, is an understanding that with some strategic thinking on your part, you can form relationships that will result in a continual stream of new clients to your business.
These relationships often cost little time or little money to establish. You simply have to be in the same place as the people you want to do business with. You might contact them directly or you might be introduced by a friend or associate.
Routinely dedicate time to cultivating new relationships.
If you don’t know where to start or are too shy to contact other businesses directly, start with your local area. Look for local Chambers of Commerce, or other business clubs and associations. Most local areas will have several such groups. Become a member and participate regularly.
In your interactions with others, always seek to add value to their lives and to their client’s lives. If you utilise this approach it won’t be long before they are sending work your way.
#5 Grow Your Business Through Growing Your Product Offering
Once you are providing a product or service that clients love and that gets them great results, you will inevitably build a relationship where these clients know, like, and trust you.
They would much rather buy from you, knowing you and your reputation, than they would a stranger.
This is the ideal time to grow your business by expanding your product offering.
Look for products and services that you can offer, that are related to what you already do and begin to test them with your clients. Find things that add value to your client’s lives and test for interest.
Not every potential product idea will be a winner, but if you’re able to add auxiliary products and services that your clients purchase, than even with a relatively small client pool you can begin to grow your revenue. You can have more customers or you can grow the amount of sales you make to each of your existing customers. In an ideal world you would do both!
If you ran a dog grooming business, you might be able to offer other related services such as pet products or food. I’ve often seen mobile dog grooming businesses and thought that they are missing potential opportunities. They could also easily be offering a food-based subscription service. They are already on the road and visiting their clients anyway. They could easily grow their business and add regular monthly income by packaging up an attractive and nutritious food-based subscription service for the animals that are already caring for. It would also save their clients a chore.
While every business is different, every successful business has the same thing in common. They have a diverse product offering and ecosystem. Google, Facebook, Apple. The might have started with one key offering, but all of these monolithic business successes have long since expanded their product offering, far and wide, allowing them to reach the stratospheric success they now enjoy.
I hope these five keys for growing your business come in useful to you. I would add a word of warning though, that knowledge alone is never enough. The key to lasting success in business, is the implementation of the knowledge that you have. There are many successful business owners who fall short of their true potential, because they are too comfortable where there are.
If you want to truly grow your business, you need to change what you are currently doing.
It makes sense that what you are doing got you to where you are now, but to get to the next level you’ve gotta do something different.
Take these five tips and begin to action and execute on them every day.
If you are diligent, you will soon build a healthy stream of clients who will frequent your business and be the foundation for its future growth. Then it will be time to learn how to scale your business.
If you need additional help, or have any questions, feel free to comment below.
You are also welcome to join with us in the MYB Community, where our growing group of entrepreneurs are working together to build their business. It’s totally free and features business owners from start up, to six and seven figures, and beyond.
You can also take advantage of our Master Your Business Masterclass – 3 Powerful Strategies For Growing Your Profits. It’s free for a limited time, simply click here to register.