Actionable tips to help you grow your small business

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Want to grow your small business? Wondering how to increase sales, customers or clients? Propel your business growth with these easy, actionable tips. 

Actionable tips to help you grow your small business 

How to grow your small business

Starting your own business is a big step. You may have a solid business plan, but now it's time to put those words into action and grow your small business.  You may have to make some tough decisions about what to do with your time, how to handle finances, and how to grow your small online business.  

In the beginning, when you start your own business, you might very well be able to cope with everything by yourself, just about.  There's no doubt about it, starting a new business takes a lot of effort and hard work. There’s a great saying that goes along the lines of ‘entrepreneurs are the only people who work 80 hours to give up working 40’. 

But as time goes on and your business grows, the amount of work­ involved can become overwhelming for a single individual. This is when it’s time to reflect on your growing business practices and think about adapting your processes to best allow your business to grow.  

Here are the suggestions we will cover in more detail in this article:

  • Online presence
  • SEO
  • Blog
  • Social media
  • Paid ads
  • Affiliates
  • Responsive website
  • Fast website
  • Take payments online
  • Take bookings online
  • Use a business mentor
  • Hire consultants
  • Attend networking events
  • Automate tasks
  • Use a virtual assistant
  • Create an email list
  • Be consistent with branding
  • Ask for reviews
  • Provide great customer service
  • Be easily contactable
  • Practice corporate social responsibility
  • Research your competitors

Read on for how to grow your small business and how to make the most of being online to get more clients/customers.

How to grow your small business online

It is critical for your company's success to have an online presence today. You have no choice but to have a website and participate in social media if you want business success and to compete with others in your industry.  The internet is the perfect tool for small businesses to grow and expand their reach. But the internet is a crowded place with billions of websites competing for attention. 

A quick internet search will tell you there are now over one billion websites online.  That’s a staggering number and also quite scary if you have your own business website.  You are quite literally competing with millions of other businesses across the globe, all determined to be found on the world wide web. 

The internet has become a very crowded place with new content popping up all over the place, millions of Facebook likes and hundreds of thousands of tweets every minute of every day.  This article shows how much activity takes place online in just one second!

So how do you get found online if there is so much competition?  It can be hard to get noticed, but there are plenty of ways to get your business online and stand out from the competition.

Here are a few tips to get your business seen online:

  • SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is so important if you want your website to be discovered online, namely by Google.  To rank well for your keywords your website needs to be ‘optimised for search’.  Good SEO will ensure you are found on page one and near the top of the results when users search for websites like yours. 

To do this yourself you’ll need to understand keyword research, create high quality original content, check your sites performance, usability and responsiveness, as well as build external and internal links.  Or you could enlist the help of an SEO Agency.

  • Blog

If you’re selling a product or service, you may be wondering how you can create more content for your website and attract more visitors.  You may even have come across the saying ‘Content is King’.  One of the best ways to improve your online visibility (and also your SEO) is to create unique engaging content on your business blog.

Content marketing helps create trust and credibility for you and your business.  It also gives you something original to share on your social media channels.

  • Social media

Social media is vital nowadays to build an online presence.  Not only does it give more of a voice to your business, but it provides customers with an instant and more personalised way to contact you.  It’s also the perfect way to introduce potential customers to your business that might never have found your website otherwise.  You'll attract more eyes to your website as you can instantly interact with others who share similar interests.  

Social media also gives you an additional platform to advertise your business and share your content.  Using relevant hashtags means your content can be found and enjoyed by those who are looking for it.  You can also utilise video marketing for your business on social media.

The best thing about social media?  It’s free. 

  • Paid ads

To reach more people you can advertise online using a service such as Google Adwords, as well as on social media.  Use targeted ads to reach your desired audience on Twitter and Facebook.  Set your demographics to ensure you reach the right people. 

It can take 3-4 months for organic SEO efforts to take effect, so in the mean time you may want to try some paid advertising to boost traffic.

  • Use affiliates

Set up an affiliate scheme to reward those who create business for you.  Affiliate marketing for advertisers can be classed as risk free meaning you only pay for results.  You only pay a commission if you get a sale, unlike Google ads or social media ads whereby you pay per click and impression regardless of whether any sales are created.

Your affiliates will promote your business resulting in improved brand visibility, social media shares and content.

  • Responsive website

More and more people are searching the web on their phones and tablets, in favour of desktops and laptops.  Make sure your website is mobile friendly.  If not, you risk losing potential customers as they click off your website in favour of an easier to read competitors site.

  • Fast website

Website speed is also an important ranking factor on Google, so make sure you test yours using PageSpeed Insights and improve where needed.  As well as being important for SEO, it's going to put your customers off browsing your website if it's too slow to load. 

Provide options for payments and bookings online to increase sales

Nobody wants to pay by cheque or over the phone unless they have to.  Make it easy for your customers to pay online with several different payment options inclduing credit card, debit card, Apple Pay and PayPal. You could even offer a pick-up service if you do not want to deal with the hassle of delivering the orders and you're a local business. It is a good idea to explore how online payment processing can benefit your business

Even if you offer a service, people can book and perhaps even pay in advance online.  Numerous types of companies can benefit from using an online booking system. Online booking can benefit a wide variety of businesses, including accommodations, instructors and tutors, pet sitters, and even service providers like plumbers. It is much simpler for you to coordinate your time, and it is much simpler for your clients to see what openings you have. Before making a booking, they will not need to contact you to ask if you have any openings in your schedule or about anything else first.  Setting up a payment processor with the booking system can even streamline processes.

Seek professional advice from mentors and consultants

Your business is like a tree. It needs to be nurtured and cared for, and the right business mentor can help you do that. They can provide you with guidance, direction, and insight into the world of entrepreneurship.  A mentor who is proven in their field will teach you how to develop the business successfully and the right next steps to take.

For valuable business and financial advice enlist the help of a professional consultant. Learn from those who have built successful businesses before and already know what works and what doesn’t.  Receiving coaching or a mentor to guide you through the next steps could be all you need to achieve your business goals.

Furthermore, speaking to an expert can also help you to track down industry-specific tools that will enable you to work more efficiently. For instance, if your business deals with a large number of leases, then investing in lease accounting software can help you to streamline your accounting processes and remain compliant with industry standards.  

Attend networking events

Networking events are a great opportunity to grow your business. You can use these events to meet new people, share your knowledge and expertise, and learn from others.  You may make connections that last for years to come and discover new clients, customers and connections to boost your sales or improve your processes.

Networking events can be intimidating for many people. But the truth is that networking is an important part of building relationships and expanding your network. If you are not sure how to network, here are some tips:

  • Be friendly and genuine. Smile, shake hands, and introduce yourself to the people that you meet at the event.
  • Find common ground with people that you meet at the event by talking about what they do or what they are wearing.
  • Ask questions about their work or their interests in order to get them talking about themselves and then share something about yourself too so they have something to ask you back!
  • After meeting someone new, follow up with them by sending a thank you email with a link to your social media profiles or website.

Automate tasks to save time and grow your business

There are several mundane tasks that can be automated every day to save you precious time and allow you to focus on growing your business. Email marketing, social media updates, website logins and website reporting are all examples where you can save time each day through automating. See how I save hours every week scheduling tweets with Social Oomph instead of typing them out every day!

If you sell goods use a customer management system to track orders and manage stock control.  Small businesses and the self-employed can even automate their accounting with thanks to online software such as Quickbooks.

Hire a virtual assistant for business growth

When growing a business, particularly if you are a solopreneur, you may not want to commit to hiring a permanent member of staff. It may be too expensive at this stage and you may not have a consistent workload to give. This is where hiring a virtual assistant is a great idea. 

There are many benefits of hiring a virtual assistant.  As they are self-employed you can hire them on an ad-hoc basis as the workload demands.  Let them take over non-essential tasks that are wasting your precious time each day; phone calls, email filtering, bookkeeping and social media management, for example.

Create an email list for business success

Depending on your type of business you’re going to want to be capturing emails.  Whether it’s customer emails for you to increase sales or a personal list of business contacts.  Both are beneficial to your business. 

Let your website capture these emails for you with inviting sign up forms.  Growing an email list is often cited as one of the best things you can do for your business.  Once you have built up a list of email subscribers you can reach out to them to source work if you provide a service, or to let customers know about new product ranges or special offers to increase your sales.

Be consistent with branding to build trust

Your brand is one of the most important qualities that will help your business succeed. It helps you build trust with your customers, and creates a strong connection with them. Make sure that you're consistent in everything you do to reinforce your brand from your website branding to your social media branding.

Have clear branding and ensure your brands message is consistent, particularly if you hire staff.  Make sure they understand the brand and represent it just as you would.  Ensure your branding is consistent across all online platforms and marketing materials.  Not only does this look professional, but it means your brand will be recognised and remembered.

You can use professional business branding services to define your brand, audience and to even establish a suitable colourscheme, logo, graphics and more. 

Ask for reviews, referrals and testimonials

If you're not getting testimonials, you're missing out on a major marketing opportunity to stand out from the competition.  With testimonials from your happy customers, you can come across as a more credible and trustworthy company. Get started by asking a couple of your best customers for a review, and see how easy it is!

Ask your existing customers if they know anyone else who needs your services.  If they are happy with the service received, encourage them to spread the good word, or alternatively provide you with a testimonial you can use in your marketing materials or on your website.

Refer a friend schemes are a great way to reward your existing customers and source new ones at the same time!

Provide great customer service or your business won't grow

Providing great customer service is all about connecting with people on an emotional level. Create an experience that will leave your customers feeling valued and appreciated.  Your customers are only going to return if the service they receive is above and beyond.  Make it impossible for them not to recommend you to others or return for more. 

Nurture existing customers with a customer loyalty programme and loyalty rewards, email newsletters and discounts to keep them interested and show appreciation for their custom.  Entice new customers to grow your customer base with new customer signup offers.

In what ways are your clients and customers able to communicate with you? Are your contact details easy to find?  Do they have to call you? It is possible they can just email you instead incase they are busy or at work and can only message?

A significant number of people in today's world want to be able to communicate through other channels. Social media and chat are two tools that can be helpful, providing you regularly monitor them and reply.  Integration of social media for sharing information and collecting customer feedback can also occur in other ways, such as allowing readers to leave comments on blog posts via Facebook or displaying your Twitter feed on the homepage of your website. 

Practice corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is a great way to grow your business. It can help you find new customers, increase your brand awareness and build a positive reputation.

The public is increasingly more aware of the environmental and social impacts of companies.This has led to an increase in people who care about these issues, which has led to a rise in the demand for products that are made responsibly.

In order to stay competitive, businesses need to stand out from the competition by being socially responsible. For example, if you want to attract more millennial customers, then you should consider CSR as one of the ways to do that. Millennials are more likely to buy from brands that they trust or have good public perception.  They may actively seek to shop from brands that give back.

The benefits of corporate social responsibility are many and include: increased employee morale; higher customer loyalty; improved public perception; higher revenues; enhanced brand awareness; reduced costs from government regulations; and more engaged communities.

Research your competitors

In order to grow your business, it is important to know who your competitors are research them. You should know who they are, what they do, and how they are doing it. This will help you understand what you need to do in order to be successful.

Researching your competitors is a very important step in the process of growing your business. It will help you understand who you are competing against and how they are doing it.

There are many ways to research your competitors. One of the best ways is to find their website and look for their contact information. You can also search for them on social media and see what they post about.

Another way is to use a keyword search engine like Google or Bing. A keyword search engine will show you results that are related to your topic, and you can use this information to compare yourself with your competitors in terms of content quality, frequency, and keywords used.

The third way is through analytics tools such as Ahrefs that allow you to see how many visitors your competitor’s site has been receiving in the last few months or years. You can also see what kind of traffic these visitors are coming from - organic searches, paid ads, social media platforms, etc to determine the marketing methods that are successful for your business growth.

Final word on how to grow your small business

Getting your business out there and growing requires some trial and error on your part.  Whilst Google ads may work well for one business, Facebook ads for another, or Pinterest marketing for another... it doesn’t always mean they’ll take off for yours.  It’s important to regularly review your stats and reports to see what is and isn’t working for your individual business.  Don’t be afraid to try different things.  You won't know what works for you until you give it a try. 

However, there are some clear actionable tips that small business owners can take which will improve your business from implementing a successful SEO strategy, to providing the best customer service possible and hiring freelancers and virtual assistants to propel your business.

Next, read these common mistakes startup businesses make so you can avoid them!

To roundup, here are the actionable steps you can take to grow your business:

  • Online presence
  • SEO
  • Blog
  • Social media
  • Paid ads
  • Affiliates
  • Responsive website
  • Fast website
  • Take payments online
  • Take bookings online
  • Use a business mentor
  • Hire consultants
  • Attend networking events
  • Automate tasks
  • Use a virtual assistant
  • Create an email list
  • Be consistent with branding
  • Ask for reviews
  • Provide great customer service
  • Be easily contactable
  • Practice corporate social responsibility
  • Research your competitors

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