Whatever kind of business you run, be it a nail salon, car wash, admin service, or photography, your aim at the end of the day is to make a profit. Some people start a business with that as the only goal, while others create a business as a passion project for the love of the industry, but making a profit never hurt anyone.
The best way to make a profit is to find good ways to grow your business. The big secret that all business people, artists, and sportsmen who run successful businesses know is that the industry doesn’t matter, the growth plan is what makes all the difference.
We have put together a list of simple steps that you can take, most of which can be relatively cost-effective if they’re done right, to help your business grow and expose yourself to more sales and thus more profit opportunities. Let’s take a look.
1. Market research
This is probably the most important step in any business’s growth plan: know your market and do your market research. When you were in school, you had to do your research thoroughly before attempting to take on any project, and the same goes for business projects as well. Whatever your sector, you need to know who your target market is. If you make fun, bright clothing, your target market might be younger individuals; if you publish books, your target market will be bibliophiles; and if you make healthy foods, your target market will be people who like to look after their bodies.
You need to understand a little bit about the kind of person who would buy your goods so that you can tailor your marketing towards your customer’s preferences. To understand them, you’ll need to do market research into what works for your target demographic. You could poll your friends if their opinions are relevant, you could add polls to your Instagram or Facebook stories to gather information directly from your online following, or you could offer free samples in exchange for customer feedback. The most important thing is that you collect information about the people who will be buying your products. Once you see their needs, you can find out how to fulfill them. Knowledge is power!
Another area where research is essential is your competitors: knowing what they have going on can give you an edge over them and ultimately bring more business your way.
Once you know who your target market is and you know a little about their wants and needs, you can start to network with people who are in similar or complementary fields or who are potential customers or clients. Networking might occur at events for business people in general or in your industry; it might happen at a farmer’s market, or it might happen in your store. Every time you meet someone is an opportunity to network and widen the reach of your company. Attending events for business owners can be a great way to keep an eye on your competition and see what they’re up to, to stay as current as you can. It can also be a great way to meet suppliers or potential partners, or investors. You can also learn a lot from people who have been in your industry longer than you have: never miss out on a learning opportunity!
3. Don’t be afraid of change
As the saying goes: adapt or die. The business world is constantly evolving, and if you don’t evolve with your industry, you will become obsolete. Don’t be scared of change; it can be your friend. Every year our awareness and understanding of our relationship to the planet and environment grow, embrace that knowledge and make sure that your business is aware of its impact on the environment.
Our understanding of acceptable labor practices has changed a lot over the last fifty years: if you don’t stay current on these acceptable practices and policies and change when you need to, you will not retain happy employees, and your business will eventually fail so having a social conscience is key. Try out new marketing practices, test out new recipe options that suit a range of consumers, try more environmentally friendly packaging, and test out a new social platform. Embrace change and your business will grow.
4. Implement a sales funnel
Sales = profits and profits = growth. It might sound like a scary business term for a new business owner, but it’s not a complicated concept at all. Think of it like this:
- The customer coming into your store or onto your website is the widest part of the funnel.
- The customer making a purchase is then sliding down through the funnel and out the bottom.
See! It couldn’t be simpler. Your task as a business owner is to find new ways to help customers slide down through the funnel and make a purchase. This could be anything from offering a discount to adding them to email lists to facilitate future sales.
5. Keep your customers
Returning customers are the lifeblood of any business, and it’s your job to make sure that a first-time customer turns into repeat sales. Easy ways to keep your customers coming back for more are
- Prioritize customer service. The customer is king, even if they aren’t always technically “right.”
- Ensure customer relations are carefully managed.
- Create a customer loyalty program that rewards customers for their business.
- Engage with your customer base on social media.
If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll have no trouble growing your business.