Whether your business is a start-up looking to take those first steps, or an established small business looking to make big things happen, the keys to a successful business lie within its ability to grow. Here’s how to grow your business successfully.
1. Build business credit
Building business credit is an invaluable strategy to help your business grow. Tactics you should use to build business credit, such as using a business credit card to buy supplies, give you access to the goods and services you need to run your business and expand your operations.
Nearly all businesses aiming for growth require some form of financing. The better your business credit, the more options for funding you’ll have. With strong business credit, you will also likely be offered better rates for business credit cards and loans.
Seize new opportunities
Imagine being confronted with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your small business to expand, but not having the funds (or the ability to get financing) to do so. That’s why starting to build your business credit as early as possible, even if you don’t think you’ll need to access credit any time soon, is highly recommended to grow a small business.
2. Get a handle on expenses
With 26% of small business owners increasing their prices due to rising inflation and business costs and 30% saying they will have to reduce their energy usage to save on running costs, expenses have clearly gone up for business owners. So how can small businesses keep a handle on expenses when looking to grow a business?
Firstly, keeping business expenses separate from personal expenses is crucial. In addition to making it easier to build your business credit score, it’s much more straightforward to track business spend if it’s not tied in with personal expenses. Tracking business expenses is a must. If you’re not tracking expenses, you won’t know where your money is going. This is one of the most overlooked small business tips but easiest to maintain.
Even if you have some type of tracking method, is it efficient? Expense tracking is the key to keeping your small business financially healthy, so make sure your tracking methods are smart, measurable, and accurate. A Capital on Tap Business Credit Card makes tracking and managing business expenses easy, saving you time and energy, and giving you the time to focus on how to grow your business.
Using business cards for certain fixed expenses
While you might see business credit cards as an option mainly for ad-hoc payments, they can also be used to pay and track fixed expenses, too.
Other ways of better managing your expenses include checking with your providers and suppliers to see if you’re getting the best rates, and focusing on budgeting and forecasting so you can plan business spending and avoid any nasty surprises.
Getting a handle on your expenses is not only helpful for cost efficiency and better cash flow management, it makes your year-end tax preparation easier as well, since your expenses will be tracked and organised in one place.
3. Analyse the competition
Challenge your business to provide the best product out there by analysing your competitors at least once a year. Small business growth can stem from having a strong grasp on the state of the market. Conduct an assessment of your competitors’ services, sales tactics, and products. Note their strengths and weaknesses and compare them to your own. By conducting these assessments you can identify your business’s individual advantages as well as any potential obstacles blocking growth so you can focus on strengthening your business strategy.
Direct competitors are usually the most easily identifiable competitors. They are the businesses that offer similar goods and/or services and target the same demographic as your business in the same geographic area. Indirect competitors or secondary competitors are also easily identified as they offer different products to a different demographic but their goods and services may fall into the same category (e.g. a nail salon and a hair salon both provide beauty services). Finally, there are substitute competitors which are businesses that offer different goods and services to the same demographic in the same geographic location.
Once you have identified your competitors you can start creating your competitor assessment to better understand how to grow your small business. You may look at their products, prices, promotions, peak times, geographic locations, overall service, and unique features.
Once you’ve collected this information you can map out your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and gain a full understanding of where your product or service has the advantage and where you can use the information you have observed to improve.
4. Focus on customer retention
Customer retention not only has the potential to help improve the overall reputation of your business in turn helping with your small business growth, it can also increase your profit between 25-95%. It is significantly less expensive to retain the loyal customer, and word of mouth referral can also save you money on marketing. So while retaining customers can seem daunting, there are some easy ways to make your customers feel valued so they stay with you for the long run.
Welcome your customers by educating them about your business. While this is not the most obvious suggestion for customer retention, educating your customers on how to use the product or service rather than throwing them into the deep end can make or break the customer experience. Welcome calls, a message from the CEO, how-to videos, emails, and guides can minimise stress for new customers. Uploading your how-to videos and guides on public channels like YouTube may also bring in new customers as well.
Consider launching a rewards program for loyal customers. Popular rewards programs often include allocating points for redemption for items, discounts, early access, and more. Rewards programs not only encourage customers to come back, but also to spend higher amounts of money in single transactions.
The customer voice is one of the most valuable tools available to the small business owner. Implementing a survey system to collect customer feedback is a great way to identify where product and service improvements are needed to retain customers. It also ensures your customers feel heard and valued.
5. Build a sales funnel
A lot of business owners miss out on a key opportunity to grow their business by not looking at their sales funnel. This is a model that represents the customer journey from first contact with the company until the sale is made.
There are three main phases in the sales funnel:
- When your customer first becomes aware of your business
- When the customer engages with multiple touchpoints of your business and considers making a purchase
- When the customer makes the purchase
Spend some time mapping out these phases for your typical customer. How do they first encounter your business? Do they typically hear about you from social media, or do they stumble across your store in a crowded area?
How long does it take until they’re ready to make a purchase, and what happens in between? Do they visit your store multiple times before making a purchase? Do they subscribe to your newsletter before finalising a sale? Maybe they like your social posts before they decide to add that item to their cart.
Where are all of the places that they encounter your business - both in-person and online - and how do they impact their decision to make a purchase?
6. Attend networking events
While attending networking events is a well-known tactic leveraged by B2B businesses (businesses who sell to other businesses), B2C businesses (businesses who sell directly to consumers), often overlook networking events as an opportunity to gain customers.
Do a quick assessment of all of the opportunities available in your community. A great place to start is social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and event sites such as Eventbrite to find networking groups and events, and see the types of people who attend them so you can pinpoint your target demographic.
7. Empower your employees
The pandemic was mentally and financially taxing for many people. As small businesses generally rely on their employees to succeed and grow it’s important to look after them wherever you can.
By striving to make your employees feel engaged and appreciated, your business will see multiple benefits. For example high levels of employee engagement can lead to greater performance, productivity, and profitability.
But you want to go one step further than simply ‘satisfied’ employees. For more productivity, loyalty, and engagement, demonstrating to your employees that you trust and respect them is the way forward. Empowering employees can be a great way to maintain morale in a world of uncertainty and strengthen your small business.
An easy and cost-effective way to do this is to empower your employees with a business credit card that's easily trackable and controllable. And it’s a win-win situation. Your employees don’t have to pay out of their own pocket and go through the process of requesting reimbursement for expenses, and you’re able to better control costs and budget.
8. Think five years ahead
As a small business owner, there are thousands of priorities competing for your attention every day. While keeping your business afloat from one day to the next can easily monopolise all of your brain power, it’s critical not to lose sight of your long-term vision for your business.
Write down what you want your business to look like in five years. Who is your ideal customer base, what products are you selling, and what services are you providing? Are any of these things drastically different from what you’re doing today?
Revisit your vision often - at least once a month - and make changes in your business operations to steer you closer to your goal.
What makes a startup successful?
Many successful startup founders say their key to success was finding the right team to carry out their mission. Establishing and communicating your company values will help you attract smart, driven people who share your vision. Here at Capital on Tap, our company values are “Be A Buddy,” “Why Not Today,” and “Just Pilot,” embodying our leadership’s vision of delivering a product that is cutting edge and customer centric. Products and services without vision can stunt a company’s growth so it’s important to have these established to build credibility, carried out by a team that can successfully deliver.
It is equally important to ensure that your team has the necessary tools and resources to perform their roles to the best of their abilities. Offering a learning budget or courses for your team can show the investment you have in their success. Without a knowledgeable team armed with hard and soft skills, your product or service is more likely to fail.
What is the fastest way to grow a business?
There is no singular fastest way to grow your business. It’s best to pick a few of the tactics outlined and tackle them simultaneously. The beginning of your business journey will likely be trying many things to see what works, so you don’t want to limit yourself to just one method of growth.
Having a line of credit to fund these initiatives will be critical to getting your business off the ground. The Capital on Tap Business Credit Card offers limits up to £150,000 with free uncapped 1% cashback. Spend just 2 minutes filling out an application to jumpstart your small business growth.