So, you’ve survived the start-up phase of your business. Now it’s time to grow. Whether you’re looking to expand by diversifying your product or service offering, or by entering new markets, you’ll need a few strategies to help you along the way.
By Viresh Harduth, vice-president: new customer acquisition (small and medium businesses) for Sage Africa & Middle East
Here, I unpack three such strategies and suggest a few ways to shake up your growing business. Whichever you decide to experiment with, the Golden Rule is this: take it slow and have a plan. Expanding too quickly could result in growing pains and allow inefficiency to creep into your processes. Slow and steady wins the race (and the customers).
Shaking up your brand’s identity shows your target market that you’re adaptive to change. Even big brands regularly refresh their corporate identities to stay relevant and to keep up with digital disruption and changing consumer needs and expectations – much like what Vodacom and Absa recently did with their rebranding.
As you grow your business and diversify into new products, services and markets, you might find that your current identity no longer serves you. A brand revitalisation will better reflect the needs and values of your bigger business, as well as the innovation you offer and how you are different from the competition.
Rebranding is great way to keep existing customers coming back to see what’s new and can help to attract new customers and talent.
Growing tip: When rebranding, always aim for simplicity in your design and your marketing message and focus on your customer’s challenges. For example, if you’re in distribution, advise customers through your branding on how you can save them time with faster delivery.
Reward your customers to keep them coming back
Existing customers are one of the best sources of additional revenue for your growing business. Studies put the cost of acquiring a new customer at five to 25 times higher than retaining an existing customer.
Your customers are also your greatest advocates and their referrals and testimonials can go a long way to attracting new customers.
But to get them to take the time to write a glowing review requires a lot of effort on your part. Customers are more willing to talk about you if you offer consistently excellent service, exceptional experiences, superior support and personalised attention.
Make the time and effort to really listen to your customers, understand their needs and challenges, and then figure out where you fit in.
- How can you meet their needs faster than anyone else?
- How can you solve their challenges with minimal effort?
When you show that you genuinely care about your customers, they’re compelled to share their experiences with others – and word-of-mouth is more powerful than any other marketing tactic.
Growing tip: Consider offering a customer loyalty and referral programme with great benefits and rewards for repeat business. Most retailers already offer successful loyalty programmes. Add another layer by offering existing customers discount vouchers or free products when they refer a friend.
Find a mentor – or hire a business coach
Whatever business growth challenge you’re facing, chances are someone else has been there and survived to tell the tale – and has great advice on how to overcome those challenges quickly.
Few things are as important in business as a supportive network. Whomever you choose to work with, your mentor should be someone who has walked the same path and who can help you think about the bigger picture. They’ll ask the right questions, scrutinise what you’re doing and offer suggestions and strategies to help you move forward.
If you can’t find a mentor with suitable experience, consider hiring a business coach who specialises in your industry and can teach you proven strategies to help you grow.
Having someone to bounce ideas off of and who can offer an outsider’s perspective into your business could be just the motivation you need to take the next step. If they can’t help you, they probably have an extensive network of their own that they can tap into and from which you can benefit.
Growing tip: Find a mentor or business coach who can guide you in your own personal development, not just your business’. Nobody ever regretted learning a new skill. The more knowledge you have, the better businessperson you’ll become. If you offer payroll services, for example, why not learn more about HR and add that to your offerings?
With growth comes complexity. Whatever you do today to grow your business, keep it simple. Simplicity makes it easier to stay engaged with customers and drives efficiency, which is crucial for any growing business.