Top tips for growing your small business

Getting a small business off the ground can be extremely hard work, often with so much to learn. Once you’re established, you might find that you quickly become entrenched in the day to day, switching between your many hats of accountant, sales director, operations manager, secretary, marketer and so on.

Even if you have others in the business who share those responsibilities with you, do you ever take time out to sit and think about growth?

What do we mean by business growth?

The first thing to establish is what growth even looks like to you. It could be a simple case of increased profits, or increased sales, or maybe it means reaching new audiences, launching a new product or breaking into new markets – which may initially come at a cost.

Your ambitions will depend very much on your long-term business goals (read more about setting business goals and visions here).

Perhaps you’re planning to sell your business, in which case growth might be about increasing the value of what you have to offer in readiness for that day.

Or maybe you’ve only recently taken over a company and your growth plans are more about developing new products or breaking into new territories.

Here are some tips to help you achieve growth in your small business.
  1. Think about growth. The first and most important step is to make sure you’re taking time to actually think about growth. Whether this means setting a day aside ahead of each financial year or taking part in workshops, away days or growth clubs, clearing the diary and getting out of the office to strategise can be hugely beneficial.
  2. Analyse your current performance. It’s important to take stock of where you are before you can decide where you want to go. Think about what the sales figures are like, where the sales are coming from, what’s working and what isn’t and so on.
  3. Shop around. It can also help to regularly review your suppliers and your outgoings to make sure you’re getting the best deals possible and whether any efficiency savings may be made. Any money saved could potentially be invested elsewhere in the business.
  4. Similarly, it’s also worth looking at your key processes to see if there’s any way they can be done quicker. For example, if you’ve been doing your own accounts for years, perhaps it’s time to look at software systems that can help reduce the impact on your time.
  5. Have you ever thought about outsourcing? Are there aspects of the business which are potentially stifling growth by taking up too much time? Perhaps you’re lacking in a particular skill set needed to achieve growth, so you might consider hiring a freelancer or consultant to help train your workforce.
  6. Check out the competition. It’s always worth keeping an eye on the competition to see what they are doing, where they seem to be doing well and whether there are any gaps you could be filling.
  7. Ask the customers. Your customers are a useful asset, ask them what they like/don’t like and would like to see more of.
  8. Have you embraced the digital age? It’s surprising how many small businesses have yet to get listed on Google, build a mobile responsive website, set up social media profiles and mailing lists. While it can be time consuming, if someone is in the market for your service, their likely first port of call will be to search the internet. If you don’t have an online presence, you’re not going to be in the running for the business. Google My Business is a good place to start.
  9. Focus on your strengths. You can also use feedback from customers to find out what you excel at and what you should be focusing on further. It often pays to develop a niche and become known for that, rather than trying to do too many things at once.
  10. Customer service. Providing good customer service is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to grow your business. Customers always appreciate a high level of service and are more likely to offer repeat custom and recommend you to others if they’ve had a good experience.

Sometimes it can be hard to see the wood for the trees when you’re trying to objectively review your own business. ActionCOACH has a number of business support programmes to help you identify and achieve your ambitions, from tailored one-to-one support to growth and planning clubs. Get in touch with Juliette Ryley ActionCOACH for more help with growing your business.