Planning for business growth is hard to do. Actually growing your business is even more difficult. How do successful companies navigate one of the most challenging junctures of business? John Oechsle, president and CEO of Swiftpage, which was recently named the number three fastest growing company in Denver, has some growth-related tips for entrepreneurs.
DO plan for growth from the conception of the idea for a business. Ask yourself all the important questions. At what run rate can you handle more products, create an online sales site, or move into a building? All of these questions need to be considered prior to starting a business and there should be points in the plan where you can choose a new path for growth. Once this plan is in place, work on different scenarios for next steps based on demand and client response. DO NOT delay plans for growth until after you have your business up and running.
DO hire employees that value company growth. Employees can and should make a huge impact on a company’s growth plans. Choosing the right employees means that you can lead without the feeling that you have to handle everything. In order to grow, you want to put together a team of employees that want to be part of your growth. Establishing a class-A team will allow you to rest comfortably knowing that your customers are being serviced by employees who care. It is important that they are part of your long term growth plan and that they are invested in your growth. It feels more like a movement than a job when everyone is on board and growth is a shared goal. DO NOT be callous with your employees.
DO keep up with current trends and social media. Keeping up with the “Social Jones’” has never been more important. You should take note of successful campaigns and trending marketing techniques. This is the social media era and it is one to take advantage of, for it is saving businesses a substantial amount of advertising dollars. Not only is social media budget-friendly, but you can also manage it in-house. Blog or post something interesting on your profiles at least once a week. Consider posting an article you read, a thought-provoking question, or a new resource you have developed. Post items that add value to your followers, and they will begin to see you as a valuable source of information. DO NOT be inconsistent with your social outreach. It is important to keep on top of your posts and more importantly, your replies to customer comments and questions.
DO ask for referrals – A 2014 Gallop poll found that 21 percent of small business owners reported attracting customers, targeting business opportunities and finding new business as their top challenges. Natural business growth comes from referrals, and your most satisfied customers will often serve as willing advocates for your company. Ask your favorite customers for social referrals. DO NOT underestimate the power of word-of mouth.
DO keep organized with all customers – past, present and future – Addresses, phone numbers, job titles, status, emails and other important contact information change. It is imperative that the contact information you keep on file for your customers is frequently verified and updated. An inability to properly manage your customer contact information will undoubtedly translate to losing business when you find yourself unable to connect with them and meet their needs. This also goes for past customers, who are often excellent candidates to target for a future return, and other leads, who could one day be your customers. DO NOT assume that customers will contact you if there is a change to their information.
DO keep your finger on the pulse of what customers will want tomorrow – You should always stay one step ahead of your customers. This can be accomplished with good customer communication, close observation of current trends and patterns in your industry and continuous research. Listen to your customers and the feedback they offer you. Keep your team working to improve products and systems before customers realize improvement is necessary or even possible. DO NOT plateau with the quality of your offerings and never stop working to understand what your customers will need next.