I am a young, learning person, so I thought I'd dig myself into some research to find out how companies grow. In America (and other places) today, you can choose to work your way up in large corporation, start a business of your own, or do something in between. I think part of which you choose depends on your personality; do you like things predictable and set or do you like taking risks? My question was, for those who do step out to start their own businesses and are successful, how do they make their businesses grow?
Here are four of the strategies that I found.
1. Diversify your business
Diversifying your business helps you to not get stuck with all of your eggs in one basket. If you open up alternate avenues, you won't be up a creek without a paddle when one part of the industry unexpectedly slows down. I could think of more metaphors, but here are four examples of ways to diversify by Entrepreneur.com.
2. Expand to new markets
"As your business matures...you will probably begin to encounter the growth limits of your original target market." says Edwardlowe.org. When venturing into new target markets, take a systematic route in order to not exhaust yourself or your resources. First, you will need to define those target markets, then do extensive research, and then decide whether to enter these markets. Some things to look at would be the market trends, if you can compete in the market, and if you can make a decent profit there. After deciding to enter a market, you will need to plan and strategize about how to best reach this market and optimize your growth there. Your plan should include steps to promote your products or services, deliver them to your customers, and sustain your new business with customer satisfaction. Finally, track your sales and see how your new market is working out for you!
3. Open another location or expand to the internet if you're not already there.
Expanding a company's reach to other physical areas is an observable way that many businesses have grown. If this is something that is applicable to your type of business (retail comes to mind), it might be something to consider. But proceed with caution as planning and implementing each new location is not a piece of cake. The process takes number crunching, careful research about possible locations, and a lot of cash (or plans on how to obtain financing).
If your business is only a brick and mortar site, expanding to the internet should actually be your first step before opening another location. Though making a website can seem overwhelming, there are fantastic people that can help you get yours up and running. Our personal favorite at Catamount is a company called Trulium. They have vamped up our website and have implemented strategies to increase our online presence.
4. Utilize Inbound marketing
This is definitely a newer technique, to me at least, but it is growing rapidly. The basic premise is: write a blog that helps people and when they keep coming back to your site, they may do business with you. Be the expert in your area of business and share your knowledge! Write interesting and informative articles and connect with others in your industry.
5. Build Relationships
This may seem simple but doing this both inside your office and out in the marketplace can go a long way.
For the former, people like working for people, not companies. When the people you have working for you feel cared about, they are more likely to give you their best efforts and grow the business with you. Shout out to my bosses who do a great job at this!
For the latter, there are so many free conventions, meet-ups, and discussions out there. Go and meet people and make connections. You never know when a conversation could lead to a great alliance or a way to expand to a new market. Learn from others as well. You are never too old to learn and there are always people with wonderful wisdom out there if you are willing to listen.
6. Invoice factoring Services
Factoring your accounts receivables is a way to keep your business' cash flow positive. Simply put, you sell your accounts receivables to the factoring company and they give you a cash advance for a large percentage of the invoice amount up front, followed by the rest of the payment, minus their fee, once your customer pays. With this cash flow solution, you constantly have the funds to pay employees, purchase equipment, or make business moves that help your company grow. Normally, without factoring, it is hard to stay afloat or take steps to move forward when you are in the middle of a down season or are having to deal with slow paying customers. Imagine not having to wait 30 to 90 days to get payment on an invoice. Instead, you are able to continuously submit your invoices for payment from the factoring company and keep your company out of the red and onto new things.
Check out our blog on what industries benefit most from factoring to see if your business would thrive with factoring!
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