Owning your own business can be the most rewarding thing you ever embark on. Most of us want to make a difference, and to leave a legacy. But sometimes our businesses grow to a place where they stabilize and then just plateau somewhere between start up and profit. Today I’d like to talk to you about 5 common business growth stumbling blocks.
Sometimes it may be out of our control because of market conditions but here are 5 things that might be stopping you from growing your business.
In business, your customer is king/queen. You need to treat them like that. Heraclitus, Greek Philospher said “The only thing that is constant is change” and you will realize as the world continues to evolve and change, that markets will also change, as do customers and their needs.
As a business-owner you have to stay up-to-date with the advances and trends in your industry and adapt your offerings accordingly.
A great example of this is when Kodak didn’t take the digital camera as a serious threat to their film business. They lost their positioning and lots of their market share because there was now an alternative substitute to printing photos.
Tip: Change is as good as a holiday, so ride the waves of change. Offer your customers services and products they want.
Many people underestimate the power of the customer experience. Once you have happy customers, they will always share their experience with others and continue to come back to you and buy your products as they continuously gain value.
Unless you’re super lucky, you will also have some difficult customers. It might actually pay off to be nice to your difficult clients because they are usually the ones who complain about their experience. On the flip-side – if they are happy, they will also get their friends to use your services.
Tip: Take the time and map out your customer experience – happy customers mean more stability and $$$ for your business.
Whether you’re a one-woman show or a small team, when it comes to up leveling your business, you might eventually need to hire some people, whether it’s on a permanent, contract or freelance basis.
You need to hire the right kind of people. A “bad egg” can impact on the team, and that can communicate your brand negatively. Also, its a lot cheaper to take time to hire the right person than to continuously have to hire people throughout the year.
Let’s do some math: (Hypothetically)
Hire several time a year: Imagine if you had to do it 3 to 4 times, it would take you 45-60 hours of your year spent away from generating revenue.
We still haven’t started to add the time it takes it to train someone on how things are done.
Think of hiring a team like finding your partner for a marriage. It doesn’t just happen – it requires constant work and communication. Your team needs to be passionate and truly understand and care about your clients- yet passion without the other necessary business skills is not enough.
The benefits of outsourcing are huge. You can have a happy successful business with an unstoppable marketing dynamo or a business were you are dealing with fire fighting to fix problems. Sometimes the cheapest options are not the cheapest after all, if you start to add the cost of time.
Tip: Invest in your team by doing frequent team-building exercises and encouraging communication. Get to know about their personal life and how this work contributes to what they want to achieve in this world.
Just like you need more money if you have growing kids, growing companies require investment to improve – be it investment in technology, more contractors or employees, larger office space, or inventory that’s needed.
- Find Cash: You might need to find the cash, perhaps from an investor, or from your savings
- Small Changes: We recommend getting to know your customers’ needs and work slowly towards fixing one thing at a time. For example if all your customers are complaining because of 3-4 consistent problems, find out which is the bigger issue. Work towards changing that issue first instead of trying to tackle them all at the same time.
- Soft Sell: A trending option is to start selling an unfinished product and get to know what the customer wants and include that in the product. Many successful creative use crowd-sourcing campaigns as a channel for pre-selling.
Tip: Identify the several areas where you need to improve and prioritize and think of how creative ways to get it done. You would be surprised at how often you don’t need so much to do the job.
Marketing has a lot to do with creation of a brand strategy that sets you apart from the competition. It also has to do with understanding your customer and the reason why they want your solution.
Once you understand that, it’s about how you communicate to your customer, how you reach out to them, and what kind of experience you give them. In your small business, you (the business owner/partner) is the main driving force behind the marketing, with the success or failure of the business hinging on your knowledge.
Tip: You might want to read our Build Your Brand Strategy article, look into hiring a brand strategist, work with a coach or educate yourself on the foundations of marketing.
- Don’t rush to grow your business too quickly. Rather focus on generating internal strength through automated processes, increasing the bottom line and building a formidable team and perfecting your product or service first. Growth will be a natural expansion from that.
- Remember that you’re running a business. Many start-ups employ friends or family, which can be problematic. It’s important to be fair, yet strict when it comes to performance evaluations.