Starting a business is hard, but learning how to grow a business that’s already up and running is a challenge all of its own. So what’s the secret to success? Just like when you were first starting out, the secret to scaling is having a solid business plan and strong fundamentals.
What are the First Steps for Your New Business?
Beginning from scratch can be daunting, especially when you’re not sure about the first steps that must be taken. That’s why we created this guide to demystify the process of scaling and growing your business.
1. Research the Market
Scaling your business demands that you know the current market conditions inside and out. You need to know:
- Whether there are enough potential customers
- Who your ideal customers are
- Where they’re located
- How much they are willing to pay for your product or service
Start by establishing clear goals for the project, and then figure out which research methods will work best in helping you achieve those goals. Of course, your marketing will vary differently based on who you are as a business. For example, law firm marketing is very different than HVAC marketing, but they all start with researching your audience and knowing how to connect them to your business.
2. Analyze Your Product
To scale your business, you need to know what makes your product stand out from the crowd. If you can’t think of anything, you have some work to do before you scale.
- What does your product do?
- How does it help your customers?
- How does it compare with competitors?
- Why should someone choose yours over theirs?
That last question is critical. Your unique selling point (USP) isn’t in your product itself but in how you market it or how it’s delivered.
3. Perform a Competitor Analysis
Competitor analysis is one of the most important things you can do to grow your business. To scale effectively, you need to know how others in your industry — your competitors, in particular — are faring.
A competitor analysis can help you gauge what’s working and what’s not in your market. It can help you spot opportunities and challenges before they arise or, even better, provide you with an advantage over others who don’t know as much as you do. Those who do it well can avoid blind spots and make wiser long-term decisions that benefit their business.
4. Build a Customized Sales Funnel
You likely already have some kind of sales funnel, but is it customized to your business’s needs? Developing a detailed customer journey helps you do just that. It’s a map of each customer’s steps before purchasing from your e-commerce store. The more information you have about where customers are coming from, what they’re doing on your site, and what ultimately persuades them to convert, the better prepared you’ll be for growth.
This can also help with your marketing and how you understand where your customers are coming from.
5. Employ a CRM System
Having an effective customer relationship management (CRM) system in place can help you keep all your data and relationships organized and accessible at any time, from anywhere — an essential tool when scaling.
CRM systems are extremely useful for managing contacts because they allow you to organize and analyze your customer data. This makes it easier to understand a customer’s history with your business. It also allows you to take advantage of automation to personalize how you do business with them. Most CRM systems offer automation features that let you set up rules and triggers based on specific events or actions, such as immediately after the customer makes a purchase.
6. Grow Your List
Your list is the core of your business, whether you know it or not. The people are most interested in what you do and are likely to buy from you. The more people on your list, the more money you can make. Scale your list to scale your business.
How? There are quite a few strategies you could apply to grow your business:
- Offer a freebie, something so good that people will be willing to give up their email address for it.
- Write a guest post to get in front of new audiences and gain authority by being featured on other blogs.
- Write articles for high-traffic sites like ReadWrite, Medium, and LinkedIn Pulse — ending with a link back to your sign-up page, of course.
7. Establish a Customer Loyalty System
A customer loyalty system is a marketing strategy designed to encourage customers to continue to shop at or use the services of a business associated with the program. Customers typically receive points, which can be redeemed for rewards. Loyalty programs are used by small and large businesses alike, including both brick-and-mortar and online retailers.
8. Look for Partners
You should always be on the lookout for partnerships with companies that can help your business grow. If you’re new to e-commerce, that means looking for ways to get more people to hear about your products.
It’s important to choose partners who can play a role in growing your business. Pick partners with a broader distribution channel than your own, for example. Also, consider what kind of brand awareness a partnership would bring you.
9. License Related Products or Services
If partnering with another business isn’t on the table, you can nevertheless either license your products out or license someone else’s products. The point here is to increase awareness of your brand. Licensing helps you get the word out about your business while even making a little money in the process.
The economic benefits of licensing can result in significant revenue and profit growth. The cost of sales, marketing, and distribution can be shared with your partner while you also gain access to new markets and consumer bases. Whether you are a well-established business or a startup, licensing is an intelligent way to grow your business.
10. Diversify Your Product Offerings
Adding new product lines is an effective way to grow your business. It allows you to reach new customers, expand into new markets, and increase your brand awareness. Diversifying your product line is good for your business and good for your profit margins, and the customer experience you offer.
Businesses that rely on a single product or service are susceptible to market changes or unexpected events. By having multiple revenue streams in different markets and industries, your business becomes less vulnerable to such events and more capable of withstanding unforeseen challenges in the future.
11. Automate Everything That Makes Sense
It’s challenging to handle the entire scope of your business effectively. That’s why automation is so popular in the current business environment. It’s one of the best ways to take care of many tasks at once, letting you focus on more pressing issues.
The key is to automate everything that makes sense to grow your business while ensuring you don’t sacrifice quality. The easiest way to get started with automation is by using a scheduling tool to manage your social media accounts. For example, you can use the tool to schedule a week’s worth of posts in 10 minutes. Another easy task to automate is email marketing.
12. Hire New, Specialized People to Help You
When you’re just starting out, you do it all. You build a product or service, market it, sell it, and support it. But as your business grows, you need to focus on your main strengths and hire new people to help you scale.
This doesn’t always mean hiring someone full-time. Instead, you can bring on board specialized personnel, or teams, who can help you complete specific tasks. Scorpion, for instance, often helps new and emerging businesses scale up their presence on various social media platforms, improve their SEO, or get a grip on multiple other mission-critical tasks.
13. Improve Your Customer Service Offerings
Customer service is the backbone of any business. It’s a crucial element for increasing sales and gaining customer loyalty. As your business grows, so must your customer service capabilities.
Handling customer service takes time, effort, and dedication. The best customer service takes advantage of the internet and social networking platforms already part of your business. Your customers are likely to be online and will have access to the same tools you do. Ensure that your customers have an easy way to reach you when they need help.
14. Develop Passive Income Sources
As a business owner, you need to make the most of your time — and there are only so many hours in the day. So while it’s probably impossible to generate 100% passive income, it is possible to develop a strategy to generate additional revenue streams that require less effort from you.
There are a variety of ways you can generate passive income as an entrepreneur, but all of them tie into one thing: selling products or services that require little upkeep after the sale, such as:
- Expanding into new products or services
- Creating and selling informational products
- Selling physical products online
15. Become a Thought Leader in Your Field
Thought leadership is a marketing strategy that focuses on creating and sharing content that shows that you are knowledgeable, credible, and trustworthy. It aims to inform and educate audiences to win their trust, and it can be a great way to grow your business.
Specifically, you can use thought leadership to differentiate yourself from your competitors and build your own authority. This can be done through social media, blogging (including guest blog posts), speaking at events, and even writing books to attract new customers.
Growing Your Business Is Exciting
These strategies won’t transform your business overnight, but even implementing a few of them can yield impressive results. And the sooner you do that, the sooner you’ll watch your business become what you’ve always dreamed it would be.
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