Your business may have started out small, but there’s no reason it has to stay that way. In fact, as entrepreneurs and CEOs alike realize, a lack of steady growth can be harmful to a business. By remaining static or growing only at an incremental pace, a business can lose customers and momentum and never regain them.
Why not think big instead? At our Catapult Mastermind Group in Las Vegas, we encourage members to engage in what’s called “exponential thinking”—visualizing a future that looks decades ahead into the future and anticipates advances in technology that specifically benefit the industries they are in.
This is the kind of thinking large corporations regularly engage in. With a few modifications, you can do the same for your own small business.
Big Company Growth Strategies for Your Small Business
Here are some thoughts on how to get into the “big company growth strategy” mindset as you consider the future of your business.
Build to sell.
Selling your business may be the last thing on your mind at the present time, but ideally, it should always be near the top of your priority list. When a company is built to sell, it becomes more attractive to outside investors. Even without actively considering a sale—if, for example, your intent is to pass the business on to the next generation—a “build to sell” model increases the value of your company.
Re-examine your capital strategy.
If your business is frequently “capital constrained,” it’s very difficult to take a significant step forward. Look at ways to re-examine your capital strategy so your business isn’t continuously saddled with an insufficient profit margin. All good things—hiring the right people, buying the best equipment, engaging in research and development—come from profit.
Leverage your knowledge about your target market.
A key element of business growth is a thorough understanding your core customers’ needs and pain points. Growth won’t last long if you stretch your operations too thin and overlook the changing needs and expectations of your target market.
“The biggest problem of most small businesses is that they try to serve too large a market,” notes business author Rhonda Abrams. When you identify a niche, take ownership of it, she adds. By attempting to reach “too many customers—or types of customers—you spread your resources too thin and your message gets fuzzy.”
Explore opportunities for partnership.
Large companies are constantly looking out for businesses with which they might forge a profitable partnership. A strategic partnership with a business whose products or services complement your own can prove enormously beneficial for everyone involved. Think of the potential new markets you can explore if you and a potential partner actively share efforts related to branding and marketing, new product development, technology purchases, and so on.
To succeed, of course, such partnerships must be based on trust. Don’t rush into a joint venture. Take time to look at opportunities within your professional network, then move carefully step by step to achieve a lucrative and transparent association.
Broaden the range of your products or services.
It’s tempting to “rest on your laurels” once you achieve a certain plateau of success with your company offerings. But new markets (and new customer needs) are always emerging. There are potentially dramatic growth opportunities available through product diversification and expansion.
Diversification enables your business “to protect your existing customer base and create multiple income streams” that boost sales and profit margins, notes business writer David William. Some of the most common forms of diversification “include importing or exporting their own or other people’s products, selling complementary services or starting consulting services.”
These efforts can also result in greatly increased awareness of your brand.
Harness the power of social media.
Speaking of brand awareness, how much effort are you putting into growing your business through online platforms favored by your customer base? These days, businesses are making significant strategic investments in time and resources devoted to social media. These efforts include:
- Posting news about their business
- Building a strong community of followers (who may also double as customers)
- Generating value-added content on their social media platforms
- Offering special discounts and exclusive offers to followers
- Promoting an “employee friendly” workplace to boost recruitment efforts
Your current customers are actively involved in social media, as are many prospective customers. Remember, if you’re not committed to a strong social media presence, chances are, your competitors are filling that gap for you.
Ask for referrals.
In addition to marketing and advertising, new customer acquisition often comes from simply asking a satisfied customer for referrals. Making the mistake of “just assuming that your customers are passing the word about your business isn’t going to do much to increase your customer base,” notes business expert Susan Ward. At the time of every sale, “ask your satisfied customer if he knows anyone else who would be interested in your products or services.”
You might just land your next big customer this way.
Grow your business by becoming a better leader.
Business growth may be hindered by a leader’s conviction that he or she knows all they need to know about leadership. In fact, many entrepreneurs who become owners or CEOs lack some leadership skills and/or an overall knowledge of market forces. In other words, they often don’t know what they don’t know.
The way to gain new knowledge and a fresh perspective on your business is by taking time out of the hectic pace of day-to-day business operations to work on your business, rather than in your business. And the best way to do this is by joining a peer advisory group such as Catapult Groups.
Every business leader brings different talents and experiences to the table, but everyone benefits from a spirited, no-holds-barred examination of business challenges and opportunities. In a peer advisory group, you leave your in-house “yes people” behind. Instead, you get honest feedback that can only come from someone who’s walked a mile in the same shoes.
Don’t think “small” just because you run a small business. Thinking “big” about your small business can lead you in new, surprising and profitable directions.