Once the fundamentals of your small business are firmly in place—a fantastic team, a great working space, and a robust slate of clients, to name a few—you’re poised for growth. But what kind of growth is best for your company? When should you step on the gas, and for how long?
Here are eight tips to help you navigate these exciting next steps for your organization.
1. Know your numbers
The key to smart growth is a solid foundation, and that begins with a strong grasp of your financials right out of the gate. Keep a close eye on basic business accounting principles, including cash flow, gross margins, profit and loss, fixed and variable expenses, and double-entry accounting. Also closely watch your business credit rating, particularly if you plan to take out loans or arrange for other financing.
Make sure to keep audited records starting in year one. The more work you do up front, the more prepared you’ll be to predict the future.
2. Wear your passion on your sleeve
All the management skills in the world don’t matter if you aren’t truly committed to your mission. The deeper your devotion, the more worthwhile your success will be, both for you and your staff. If you’re in the game just for the glory and no larger purpose, that success will have little meaning once the thrill is gone.
The numbers bear this out: more than half of all shoppers look at a company’s values when deciding to support them, including seven in 10 millennials and four in 10 boomers.
3. Put the customer first
Consumers now have more choices of products and services than ever before. With competitors popping up every day and no industry immune to disruption, a potential customer can jump to another business, be it online or brick-and-mortar, if they’re not happy with yours.
Price is no longer the key to success; experience plays a much bigger role in attracting and keeping patrons. In fact, experience is on track to overtake price when making a sale with 86 percent of customers willing to pay more for better service.
And if an experience doesn’t go well, a customer can tell the world on social media with just a few taps on their phone. But that also swings the other way—give them an amazing experience, and they’ll sing your praises.
4. Bring your best customers back
Encourage your best customers to bring their friends. Give them both online and offline tools that let them easily share their excitement for your brand. Whenever they do visit, they leave behind something even more valuable than their money: their data. This lets you craft a unique experience based on what they’ve already demonstrated they’re excited to buy. It also helps you tailor loyalty programs to their specific purchase history.
From The North Face to Starbucks, Sephora to Amazon, legacy brands have harnessed this data to great success.
5. Find your niche and conquer it
Before you dip your toe into the big pond, make sure you dominate the small pond. Whether it’s window shades, lawn maintenance, or artisanal vegan donuts, make your company the gold standard and a larger audience will soon be pounding down the door.
6. Get good advice
Your vision is what drives the business. It’s why everyone on staff gets up in the morning and stays late to get the job done. But even the most inspiring idea needs outside expertise to fine-tune it and filter out unconscious biases. Surround yourself with an advisory board of people who are experts in things that fall outside of your wheelhouse and won’t sugarcoat their opinions. Treat them like shareholders and report to them regularly.
7. Ask for help
You can’t do everything yourself, even though you may have the drive to do so. Burnout is inevitable and delegation is the key to avoid it. Whether it’s in-house staff or outside contractors, the more they can take off your plate, the more mental capacity you’ll have to stay focused on the big picture.
8. Modernize your POS
A modern payment solution is the last, and perhaps most important, piece in the expansion puzzle. All your hard work pays off when customers show up ready to pay. Poynt’s fully connected terminals, software, and app marketplace will give your business the tools it needs to expand and thrive in the years to come.