Is your business primed for growth? If you are like most small businesses, that answer isn't always clear. Planning an actionable growth strategy can mean the difference between developing a sustainable brand or becoming just another statistic.
Here are five pillar pieces to any growth plan and what we focus on when working with our customers.
1. Establish your value proposition
Why do people choose to buy your product or service? What makes you relevant, different, credible? By answering these questions, you can more clearly articulate that to your customers. This clarity is critical in an environment filled with noise and low attention spans.
Great value propositions are clear, communicate benefits to the customer and highlights how your company is different.
“We are the only website service that provides evergreen websites to small business owners at an affordable price.”
2. Who is your perfect customer?
You can probably conjure up that one client who is your raving fan. Not your best friend or your mom (who will just be nice to you regardless of what you are selling). You want the perfect stranger who becomes your best customer. Think about who they are. Why did they purchase from you? What did you deliver that made them fall in love with your company? How do they buy? What customer pain point did you eliminate?
Knowing these answers will help you build a customer profile and help you to market to that perfect client. You will have an idea of where they spend time, how they buy etc.
For example, if your idea customer is a small business owner-operator who runs a service business in a small town, chances are they don't spend hours in the middle of the day cruising through a Twitter feed. They might not even know what Twitter is or have an account. If that is your ideal customer then reading up on the latest Twitter marketing angle is probably not the best strategy.
Through clearly identifying your customer you can meet them (and more people like them) where they already are. If you target to stay at home moms, then you might check out Facebook groups. If you target pen enthusiasts, then you might write a guest post on for a site like Nock.co. You get the idea.
3. Define key indicators
All this effort you put forth needs to be measured somehow. You have to know if what you are doing is working. By knowing which key indicators are affecting your growth can ensure that you put more effort towards those and tweak what isn't working. These key indicators need to be well-defined and quantifiable. "Lot's more" is not quantifiable.
There are many different key indicators, below are a few to get your gears spinning:
Number of customers - how many have you gained or lost? This key indicator will help you better understand if what you are doing is solving customer's pain.
Profit - More profit, less profit, margins, etc. Look at all these things. This one is kind of a given but worth pointing out. Make sure to tie profit indicators to marketing actions.
Employee Turnover Rate - Plenty of businesses struggle with this. Examine your day to day culture, employment packages, and overall environment. For those of you who don't know how to come up with this, you can take the number of employees who have left and divide it by the total number of employees.
Customer support tickets - Using tools like ZenDesk and the like can provide you with stats on new tickets, the number of unresolved tickets, time frames to solving tickets, time of day the most tickets come in or what day of the week you might get the most tickets. These indicators can help you adapt your business strategy for better growth.
4. Revenue streams
Know what your core revenue streams look like and how to make the most of them. Also, look for additional revenue streams that might have been overlooked. We'll go back to the pen enthusiast example for a moment. If their core product offering is pen cases then why not try out selling little notebooks, pens and dare I say, pencils.
5. Focus on what makes you... you.
You know your strengths. Play to them. If you can do one thing well, then focus on that and what opportunities surround that.
Your growth plan needs to nimble and unique to your business. When looking for growth, begin with these five things as the fundamentals of any growth strategy. Your growth strategy should focus on continual improvements instead of epic shifts.