Keep up the growth efforts! Here is Chapter 3 of our business insights series. Read the insight below for some helpful guidance from a number of experts across industries. Make sure to read the next articles in this series for more success tips.
Wondering where you will be communicating with your clients in 2021? Look no further than your cell phone. Emails are overdone. Social media has too many notifications. Sending text messages directly to the client’s cell phone will become the ideal method of communication going forward. Apps like community.com are making it easier to share your number with your network and communicate with large groups of people, even sending personalized messages and acknowledging special occasions based upon the information they submit during sign up. This method of communication will become popular because it will give your clients the feeling that they have direct access with you which email and social media do not offer.
– LaKesha Womack, Leadership Development Specialist at womackcg.com
Working “On” Your Business
For entrepreneurs and business owners who want to grow, it is so important to follow the advice of working “on” your business more than “in” your business. It is so easy to get swept away by the day to day tasks. My advice is this: Whatever you decide to do in 2021 to grow your business, be intentional about setting aside blocks of time that are dedicated to work on those things that are for the future of your business and not the present tasks. Protect these time slots and commit to them. Don’t get distracted or let other things get in the way. This time is for creating a vision of the future for your business and then only working on the most important things that will make that vision a reality.
– Erik Wright, Owner of New Horizon Home Buyers
Boost SEO Efforts
Small businesses can grow their organizations by increasing their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts in 2021. Since the cost of digital advertising is continuing to rise, SEO is a cost-effective solution that can provide high-quality leads. While it can take 6-12 months to see growth with SEO, it is essentially a free way to increase traffic to your website which will ultimately lead to an increase in leads/sales.
The thought of taking this new project on can be overwhelming but as companies continue to evolve and restructure during and after the pandemic, this role can be integrated into businesses, even if only part-time. Outsourcing this task can be expensive but there are so many people that share their SEO expertise online for free that you can easily find answers to your questions. Countless guides on how to get started can be found with a simple google search. We live in the Information Age, use it to your advantage.
– Jake Irving, Owner of Willamette Life Insurance
Evolving in 2021
After what 2020 dealt us, an entrepreneur’s ability to adapt and evolve is essential in 2021. To best ensure that your community evolves with you during times of change, you must build strong connections with them. I suggest exploring storytelling. Because of storytelling, our community knows where my business came from, why it is here, and what building it has looked like along the way. Overly curated marketing has exhausted many consumers and their response to our method has been tremendous. Here are my top 3 tips that you can implement today to begin building a more personal relationship with your consumers:
- Share your real story. How did you originally come across the need that your product or service meets? Did you face hardship or a specific lesson that helped you develop the skills that bring you success now?
- Show face. Show your founder, show your teams. People maintain relationships when they feel that they know you and this also helps to develop the trust that will keep them loyal and returning.
- Remind your clients of their integral role in your business. What additional value do they bring? Is it Inspiration, feedback, organic marketing through shares or testimonies? Everyone wants to know that they matter and your clients are no exception.
I am confident that the level of trust that we’ve built beyond traditional sales marketing is the reason that we have retained, and will continue to retain and increase, our community regardless of external circumstances.
– Ashlee Dozier, Owner of Anuket Luxury Apothecary
Get Quoted in the Media
I speak internationally to entrepreneurs and executives of small and medium sized businesses across industries and I can tell you from speaking to thousands of them in dozens of cities and several countries that 80 percent of small business owners and execs are absolutely unaware of the many free opportunities there are daily to be quoted in media, to build up their profile as experts in their field or as the best in the business, to elevate themselves and differentiate themselves from the competition and build their customer base. Consider this : What stories can you tell your community through your local TV, radio, newspaper. Then prepare your pitch taking care to ensure that it is editorial — of value to the newsroom and their readers — and not advertorial — something better sent to the ad department along with a cheque. Perfect your pitch so it speaks to the knowledge you have to share, suggest a few segment or show or article ideas. Find podcasts you can share your expertise on, write articles for Medium — each of these are building blocks that create a bigger and bigger media presence for you for the win! Happy 2021!
– Tracy Lamourie, Founder, Managing Director, Senior Publicist at Lamourie Media
Marketing Strategies in 2021
- Start an email newsletter and cultivate a community of prospects
- Create content and grow your audience on social media
- Run google ads to catch people who are looking for your services
- Employ a personalized approach to identify and engage with prospects
- Become a source for journalists and get mentioned in articles
- Reach out to influencers to create content and endorse your products and services
– Rick Koletavitoglu, CEO at 150birds
Systematic Approach to Documents
Your team should all be on the same page and producing the same high quality documents (either in house or external facing). A good way to start is make sure all important documents have templates. Invest in these looking good, particularly as they get closer to the sale. Meaning, don’t just get a graphic designer to design your billboards but also get your documents designed too. All your templates should sit in a good file structure that is available to all staff. This way when they need to make a particular document, they find the template easily and use it. Templates will save your staff time. They also ensure consistency across all your documents. It also helps to have a checklist for each document for staff to go over at the end. Things like: making sure images are high quality and licensed, hyperlinks are clickable, spell check done. This check will make sure your documents are top quality. By having these systems in place, you are more easily able to grow as you leverage the templates by hiring more staff to meet more customer demand. Without systemising your documents, the work will not be as quick and easy or repeatable so will slow your rate of growth.
– Kassandra Marsh, Document Designer and Owner of Lakazdi Business and Marketing Document Design
Three Strategies for Expansion
- Business rivalry awareness. It is not recommended to follow what your competitors are doing. It is advisable to have a thorough research about your rivals. That way, you can determine what products they don’t offer to come out with a product that will stand out in the market.
- Believe in what you can contribute to customers. It is one of the keys to business growth that offers additional customers’ value. Think about your target market and pinpoint what products you can offer to them. This way, it will help you develop a closer connection and loyalty between you and your customers.
- Offer business services options. Business services like pickup and deliveries are the best options preferred by customers. Set these options through business shopping platforms and your business website to work. It is an extraordinary way to set yourself apart from other small businesses.
– Michelle Devani, Founder of lovedevani
Two Growth Tips
2020 was a very devastating year for every entrepreneur like me. Consumer behaviors changed resulting in a lowering down of our sales. However, it is not the end of the world yet and since 2021 is just starting, there is nothing wrong if we hope for a better year and a regain of everything we lost last year. To achieve this goal, we still need to work hard so we could reap all the fruits of our hard-work and make our business grow. Here are some tips on how business can grow this 2021:
- Update your current technology. This might be a little expensive but it will surely give you positive outputs in the long run. As you can see, businesses have seen the importance of making their businesses available online and operating with the help of different software available, especially during the lockdown season. Some companies that already have the technology were able to continue their operations despite being in a lockdown.
- Take advantage of the power of social media for marketing. It is very seldom to know a person nowadays who doesn’t have a social media account. May it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even LinkedIn, everyone surely owns one which makes it a very powerful tool to introduce your products and services. However, you just need to identify which platform will work best for your brand so that no efforts will be put into waste.
– Chris Muktar, Founder of WikiJob.co.uk
Business Gains for 2021
In the past year, everyone has encountered difficulty with their own businesses. This year I plan to focus on expanding my business to recover from the opportunities lost. Using my downtime to focus on improvements that can help attract more customers will help my business grow its network faster. With a growing network, I intend to prioritize quality customer service and asking for feedback to address the concerns of customers. As technology continuously innovated I extended my business virtually to widen the range of my services to the community and market my company better while cost-saving.
– Jacob J. Sapochnick, Founder at Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick
Get Featured in the Right Channels
As a small business, it is even more important to be featured in the right channels. The world is becoming increasingly digital and networked through the Internet. One neglected way to get growth for smaller businesses is Search Engine Optimization. We still see a surprising number of companies that do not pay attention to this at all.
Being featured on search engines like Google gives you a huge advantage as you can get your website and your product or service visible to the exact audience you want. Google values authority, so make your website a reliable authority in your particular field. The top-3 positions on Google get almost 60% of all clicks on a given search result on average. Becoming an authority will help you get closer to the top-3 and increase your traffic significantly.
With SEO, you can still stand out from the others, but it will certainly become more difficult in the future as the world becomes more digital. But If one hasn’t started yet, now is the time. SEO is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools that anyone can use. It doesn’t tie up capital or require big investments, but when it works well, it can be groundbreaking for a small business.
– Toni Halonen, CEO of Bojoko
Get Recognized and Earn Supporters
I think the hardest part of doing something is starting and that is especially true when it comes to business. As a founder of a website, I consider my website’s first few years to be the most challenging. With lots of competition out there, I had to work really hard to get recognized and earn supporters. But with continuous hard work and the right strategies, I was able to successfully grow my small website.
When it comes to growing a small business, my best tip is to know your customers. You have to know your customers and understand their needs well so you can fulfill them. You always have to keep a keen eye on how your audience’s needs or preferences change. This is so you will know where to make adjustments or changes in order to improve. Customers are one of the most important things to any business and that is why it is important to make sure that we get to satisfy their needs.
– April Maccario, Founder of Ask April
Tell Your Unique Story
Small businesses have always faced strong competition from larger, more established brands. In 2021, with so many small businesses moving their operations online, they face competition from corporate giants like Amazon and Walmart. However, small businesses have one important advantage that’s often overlooked.
The one thing small businesses have that the corporate brands don’t is their unique story. Consumers make a conscious choice to shop at small businesses because they love their story.
Take the time to define your brand story. Who are the people behind your business? What are your core values? Why does your business exist? How do you interact with your customers? Tell your story in a way that resonates with your target customers, in a way that they will think, “They really get it.”
Now you have found your story, share it in all your communications, let it inform every customer interaction you have. Your customer experiences should reflect your brand story, so that your customers will be delighted and inspired to share your story with others.
– Matt Bertram, CEO & SEO Strategist at EWR Digital
Cater to Your Current Customer Base
In 2021 a lot remains uncertain about how the pandemic will continue to unfold. A strategy we focused on in 2020 that allowed us to grow, even though we are a travel brand, was lessening our efforts on new customer acquisition and increasing our efforts on catering to our current customer base. This meant increased communication, developing and releasing new products more quickly (with a focus on work from home “WFH”) and efforts to cross sell and upsell on our checkout experience. Our big lifeline through it all was we are an ‘e-commerce only’ brand. We sell only direct-to-customer without any wholesale. As the year ahead remains a mystery, this strategy is what we plan on continuing to explore. By focusing on our current customer base, we are spending less on marketing and more on product development. We’ve noticed growth in sales and lifetime value of our customer base and our marketing spend has dropped. Deepening our direct-to-customer relationship was the name of the game in 2020 and until the world starts opening up again, it will remain our growth strategy in 2021.
– Dan Demsky, Founder of Unbound Merino
Offer Different Products and Services
It’s more profitable to sell a new product/service to an existing customer than it is to sell an existing product/service to a new customer. Customer acquisition is expensive. Instead, focus on increasing the lifetime value of your customers (how much they spend with you over a course of a lifetime). For example, I own a hiking company and while we traditionally add new tours each year that didn’t make sense this year due to the pandemic so we looked for related products that our clients would be interested in and decided to create hiking journals and focused more on selling hiking gear through affiliate partnerships. Both of these initiatives were done in just a few short days, and then we could start selling them to our existing clients. It’s important to look for related products that your existing clients will be interested in and focus on increasing the lifetime value of your clients rather than always searching for new ones. Another good idea is to survey your customers. Ask them what they want from you. Their answers may surprise you and during difficult times your best customers want to support you, so make it easy for them to do so.
– Laurel Robbins, Founder of Monkeys and Mountains
Amp Up Internal Communications
I recommend investing more in terms of investing in internal communications in the company. I’ve made it necessary that my managers spend time with their team members and make sure they understand what is going on in the company, especially during these challenging period. We also communicate what is expected of them in terms of etiquette and responsibilities now that they are on remote setup. I also make it a habit to join team meetings and to arrange one-on-one consultations to get to know how they’re coping with the new arrangement and the changes brought about by the “new normal.”
– Matt Satell, CEO of Prime Mailboxes
To grow your business, especially in 2021, follow the C&E strategy. That stands for cut and excel. Many business owners are chasing too many opportunities in too many markets and their core competency suffers as a result.
So instead of looking at it as ‘we want to be the best marketing agency, you should rephrase that to being the best marketing agency for software companies or fitness brands.” This strategy has been followed time and again by entrepreneurs looking to break into tough markets.
ConvertKit positioned itself as the best email marketing application for bloggers but started with a subset of bloggers. Today, it earns more than $20 million a year.
Look at your most profitable product or customer segment and see if there’s more room to grow. If there is, cut the least profitable products and customer segments then channel the resources into the areas you’ve identified that have the most potential.
– Daniel Ndukwu, CoFounder and CMO of UsefulPDF
Cost Reduction Strategies
One thing that can help SMBs this year is managing their cost reduction strategies in light of the effects of the pandemic. In our firm, for instance, we aim to introduce cost reduction and tax analysis strategies to determine quickly and accurately how to increase our clients’ cash flow and reduce expenses. This pandemic has influenced us to make huge adjustments in our business model to better introduce cost reduction and tax analysis strategies and help determine quickly and accurately how to increase our clients’ cash flow and reduce expenses.
– Michael Hamelburger, CEO of The Bottom Line Group
Hire the Right Talent
A successful company or business is always built on its employees. Although your business’s basis is your unique idea, building a great team is vital in your journey of growth. Consider your personal experience of encountering a store where you have to deal with an under-trained employee, and your experience as a user is disappointing. You probably won’t head back to that store again. Similarly, hiring employees motivated to boost your business’ performance and willing to go the extra mile for your company is crucial for success. Businesses can take a hard hit because of one poor employee, which can cost them big time.
Employees are the most important prospect of any business. Hence you must treat them right and show that you care. While it is important to conduct extensive and smart interviews, you need to attract competent individuals to apply to your company. Offering extra benefits and promoting employee health as your preference is crucial in convincing new employees to join your business. Your existing employees and their satisfaction with the company portray a perfect example of your work environment. They can be the source of spreading word of mouth and attract new job applicants. Thinking beyond limits to hire the ideal employees for your company will return in the form of substantial business growth.
– Bradley Stevens, CEO at LLC Formations
Have a Good Pulse on Operations
The first year of growth is about setting the right foundation for your company. It’s important to have a good pulse on your customers and their feedback about your product. Getting involved with everything in the first few months to get a good grip on every aspect of your operations. This will help to identify weak points and hire the right people in every category as the company grows. If you have a good pulse on every aspect of your company’s operations you can identify and help your team solve issues faster. Failing fast and small is the best strategy. Be open to testing different ideas to help the company. As long as you fail fast and correct yourself, you will find some big wins which can help your company adapt faster to an ever-changing landscape in the new era of social commerce.
– Ashwin Sokke, Co-founder of WOW Skin Science