Unless you are quite happy just ticking over, it is likely that you will be looking for ways to develop and grow your business. These 7 steps can set you off in the right direction
Regular assessment of your business plan enables you to measure your progress and test your development strategy. Are you achieving your goals? Are you using your strengths to make the most of your opportunities? Reconsider where you want to be this time next year and decide how you’ll get there. If you have employees, involve them. Set new objectives and growth strategies, if necessary.
Are your products/services still as attractive as they were? How could you enhance them? Perhaps your competitors are leaving you behind. Conduct fresh market research. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. Simply chatting to customers can reveal much valuable information. It might also be time to reassess your prices. Maybe you could even put them up.
Solid finances underpin healthy growth, so examine your cash flow projections for the year ahead. Are there any potential problems that could hinder your ambitions or threaten your survival. You need measures in place to cope with any likely cash flow problems. If you haven’t done any cash flow projections – why?
Try to sell more to existing customers: it’s cheaper and easier than selling to new ones. Could you extend your product range or sell bundled goods. Your customers buy from you because they recognise the value you provide, so the hard work is already done. Ask them how your business could better meet their needs. Add value to the relationship. Always try to ‘upsell’ – but subtly is advised.
Sounds obvious, right? But too many businesses rely too heavily on a few loyal customers, which is dangerous. The more punters, the less the risk. Each year, some of your customers will drop off. Think about which new customers you should target and how. Set monthly new sales targets and track your progress. Learn which marketing methods work and those that don’t. Tactics such as introductory offers can help to attract new customers, but ensuring they remain loyal is a massive challenge.
Most businesses focus on one or two sales channels, but using others could make all the difference. You could start selling online, if you’re not already. Figures from the Centre of Retail Research and Retailmenot showed that UK consumers spent £44.97bn online in 2014 – a year-on-year growth of 15.8%. Using online methods could enable you to reach consumers in other areas of the UK or start selling to overseas customers. Maybe you could turn your business into a franchise or licence your products to other businesses.
Even if you can’t sell online, you can still market your business online. Make sure your website represents your business effectively. If not, think about getting a new one done. Social media marketing is one of the best ways to promote many businesses. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites could help you to attract, engage with and retain customers.