You’ve established your small business, and now you’re thinking about expanding.
You’re not alone. Four of every five small-business owners are either currently experiencing growth or are expecting it this year, according to the National Small Business Association’s 2017 year-end report.
But each business is different, and your idea of growth — and how to get there — may not be the same as the Joneses down the road. Achieving growth can come from a number of efforts, from forming strategic alliances to trying new advertising and marketing tactics to hiring more people. So, which initiative should you carry out to ensure sustainable business growth? Here are three things our Windstream Small Business team thinks you should consider.
1. Know your brand and build it.
Your brand is your overall customer experience. It’s not enough to just have great merchandise. You also have to connect with the right people in the right places at the right times. Don’t know where to start? Forbes has a small business marketing 101 tutorial.
Need a simple refresher? Group your target audiences based on what you know about their similarities. Pull out the data and research you have on each of those groups, and you’ll find that each will likely have distinct ways of how they would like to be reached and how often they should be reached. Now, use that data to navigate your own course in communicating with them, not only about your products but your company as a whole.
2. Embrace technology.
We are living in the Digital Age, and that means it’s high time you have a mobile-friendly website and use all the free tools — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. — to expand your business’ reach. Do you need all of them? No. But start with Facebook, the platform on which 1.65 billion users in 2016 spent an average of 50 minutes a day. And as you’re learning more about your target audiences, find out what online platforms they’re using and reach out to them there.
Social media accounts give you a chance to interact with customers and customer leads about your products and services. Small businesses have the edge over larger corporations when interacting with consumers on the online platforms because they have a more personalized touch.
But it doesn’t end there.
Look at automating or moving some of your daily work — such as accounting services, customer-relationship management systems or even marketing services — to “the cloud.” Windstream’s OfficeSuite offers a cloud-based phone service with features that allow callers to ring an employee’s mobile and office line at once, let employees make and receive calls from anywhere with an internet connection and connect with Salesforce, a customer-relationship management platform.
Remember that as you move more applications to the cloud, you may have to acquire faster internet speeds to keep pace with the increased pressure on your broadband network. Making those moves with updated technology can make your business more efficient by allowing your employees to focus on your business goals rather than the day-to-day minutiae.
3. Use local resources.
Local groups, like economic development organizations, are in the business of seeing your business flourish. State economic development organizations, colleges and universities and other local business incubators can help you along your journey, whether you’re looking for training opportunities, consulting or market research and analysis.
Now that you’ve chartered your course to growth, remember to augment the technologies that make your business run smoothly, too. Windstream Small Business can help support your company with phone, high-speed internet and cloud-based services that are designed to meet the needs of the ever-changing business environment.
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