|Placing your customer at the heart of everything you do|
Now it’s time to start looking further ahead and think about the next challenge of how to grow your business. And here’s a chance to get some tips from someone who has advised and guided many small business owners with their business development strategies.
Louise’s tenacity, her focus on product quality and exceptional customer service over the last five years has resulted in 27 franchises across Australia and New Zealand, as well as additional distribution centres opening in capital cities across Australia with more than 253,000 bouquets purchased in 2012. Louise will be expanding her business into the US in 2014!
i) Building strong relationships with your staff and customers.
Happy and loyal staff will go out of their way to help you grow the business, and will go the extra mile when the going gets tough. Customers who are happy with the service you provide become champions for your business, referring new customers and building your reputation via word of mouth.
ii) Solid market research
Every entrepreneur should start by asking themselves is there a need for my product/service? Never underestimate the value of good market research. Too many amazing products fail because businesses don’t seek enough customer input as part of their new product/service development and marketing. Market research should be ongoing and provide feedback into how to continuously improve the business.
iii) Segmentation of the market for entry
The world is not your market. Even if your product/service is applicable to everyone (coffins or funeral plots, for example – after all, we’re all going to die one day!), don’t make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Instead, you should be aiming to target your most profitable prospective client base as effectively and economically as possible. Good market research will help you develop a profile of your ideal customer, from their age and gender to their professional background, their income bracket and purchasing power.
ii) Know your weaknesses, and bring in the experts to fill the gaps in your own professional expertise. I contract or employ people who are the best of the best in their fields. It’s an investment in the future of the business.
iii) Fake it til you make it – exuding confidence is one of the keys to building your client base.
iv) Making mistakes is a given, but it’s how you recover from a mistake that counts. Get up, learn from it and keep moving.
v) Build a network of like-minded business people to bounce ideas off and learn from.
vi) Stay open to learning new things, to having your ideas challenged and to doing things differently.
vii) Take time out of working in the business to work on the business – plan for the future.
And the very final tip to entrepreneurs would be to trust your instincts. Go with your gut. By that, I don’t mean completely ignore the numbers – what I do mean is that if you’ve done all the analysis and it all seems to add up right – and yet never-the-less it still doesn’t feel quite right in the pit of your stomach - then walk away! And don't look back.
Thanks for your time Natalie - you've shared many great tips on growing a small business..... Let me add that running and growing a business can be tremendously satisfying and rewarding. But there will also be times of discouragement when it seems your plans just don't seem to be working out - and perhaps even times when you hang your head in despair and feel like giving up. This is when you will need to search within and re-connect with your inspiration that can give you the faith and drive to persevere.
Also, on this topic of business growth - readers might like to look at Marketing Tips for Small Business
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development, a management training company in Melbourne, Australia. He is a qualified psychologist, experienced management coach and an engaging presenter, with a passion for helping people develop their full capabilities.