The best business growth advice you’re not taking

Once your business moves out of the difficult start-up phase, you’ll face new challenges, like expanding your product offering and branching into new markets.

But most businesses try to do too much at once. The result? Inefficiency and misaligned teams. Growth should be a slow, calculated process. Focus on one thing at a time and get it close to perfect before moving on to the next. Baby steps still move you forward.

Here are three strategies to get you started.

  1. Rebrand

Your DIY logo served you well in the start-up years but it’s time to bring in the professionals.

Find a brand identity expert who understands everything from the psychology of colour to the smaller nuances of design. They can inject new life into your original design while maintaining the essence of your brand, and can assist with everything from web design, to business cards and stationery, to correctly sized images for your social media pages.

You might also want to consult with a copywriter to add some flair to your marketing message. They can help you get to the essence of what you do and how you solve customers’ problems, and work that into your slogan and web copy.

Don’t be scared of change. Big brands do it all the time (think Absa and Vodacom) to stay relevant in the age of digital disruption. Shaking things up now and then shows your customers that you’re agile and open to new thinking.

Top tip: Keep your design simple and think about the message that the colours, images, and words convey to your customers.

  1. Delight your customers

Did you know that it costs five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one? Your existing customers are your biggest source of income. And, if you treat them well and consistently deliver excellent experiences, they’ll also be a secret weapon in your marketing strategy.

But turning customers into authentic brand advocates, who are willing to sing your praises and write positive reviews on public platforms, takes a lot of hard work on your part. Customers are quick to complain when they get bad service but will only talk about great service if it’s exactly that – great. Not average, which we expect of all brands – but unexpected, personalised, and delightful.

How do you do that? By truly understanding your customers’ challenges and how you can help solve them better and faster than the competition. Next time your customer sees a public post from someone looking for appliance repair referrals, they won’t think twice about mentioning your name, along with praises like ‘excellent service, great quality, reasonable price’. Word-of-mouth is more powerful that the most elaborate marketing campaign.

Top tip: Get the referral ball rolling by creating a loyalty programme for your regular customers. Thank them for their repeat business with discounts and reward them with vouchers or free products when they refer a friend.

  1. Find a mentor

There’s an army of entrepreneurs out there who have been in your position and have great advice on how to navigate any small business challenge. In an age of hyper-connectedness, you don’t have to try – and fail – at every strategy. You can fast-track your success by adopting the strategies of successful business owners.

The flip side is that everyone has well-meaning advice but not all of it will be applicable to your business. Find someone who is in a similar industry and who can help you see the bigger picture by asking the hard questions, pointing out inefficiencies, and helping you to map the way forward.

If you feel like you’re in a business rut, getting an outsider’s perspective could be just what you need to kick-start your motivation again. If you don’t know anyone, tap into global expert knowledge. There’s no shortage of books, TED talks, and podcasts packed with free business advice from those who have been there before.

Top tip: As much as you’re growing your business, you’re also developing yourself personally. Find a mentor who can teach you a new skill or who is knowledgeable in an area you know little about.

Growing pains are a real thing. But if you keep things simple and focus on one strategy at a time, you won’t lose focus on your long-term goals or your customers, which are essential to your success.

Tips to grow your business:

 Open a branch in another area or offer your business as a franchise.

  • Merge with or acquire complementary businesses.
  • Be clear about what makes you different from your competitors and focus on getting better at it.
  • License your product or service and earn passive income through royalties.
  • Build your online presence to drive more traffic to your website.
  • Boost sales through promotions and limited-time offers.
  • Bundle your products or services.
  • Use technology like Sage One to automate business processes like payroll, accounting, and HR and buy back time to focus on more important things.