If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either a) a business owner or a b) an aspiring business owner who’s wondering how to grow your business.
Let’s examine how to grow your business using both verbal and non-verbal methods.
Know Your Customer
For as long as there have been businesses, there have been customers. Before there were websites, there were shop-floor warriors who interacted with customers as they shopped. In the digital age, this relationship has become more intimate; we’re no longer just buying from a digital salesman, we’re purchasing products and services from people we know and trust.
Knowing your customer doesn’t necessarily mean you have to know all of their intimate details. It simply means you need to understand what they want and need so that you can present them with the best possible service. For example, if you’re a hair dresser, you might know that hair-dryers are their kryptonite. If your product is bespoke cakes, you might know that your best chance of selling these to well-known figures is if they can taste them first. In a word, niche. Knowing your customer is all about understanding their ‘pain’ point and then using this to your advantage.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen startups with amazing products fail because they weren’t scary enough, didn’t understand the marketplace they were entering or lacked the financial resources to fight for a place in the market. If you want to succeed in business, you need to be scary.
I’m not suggesting you become a sociopath or even go near that territory, but you should be aware of how your customers and potential customers see you. Your team, your product, your services, your pricing, and your culture should be all parts of a terrifying puzzle that makes your potential customers say ‘no thank you, I’m good’.
Understand Your Competition
If you’re starting a business, the last thing you need is to be bogged down by unnecessary anxiety. You have enough to worry about already! So whether you decide to go it alone or hire some help, you need to understand who your competition is and what you’re doing to stand out from the crowd.
Take a good look at your competitors and understand what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what makes your product special. You can use this information to either give you an advantage or prove to your customers that they shouldn’t even consider purchasing from your competitors.
Measure, Measure, Measure
You need to understand what’s working and what isn’t so you can make the right adjustments and improvements. Whether you have a clear path to growth or you’re still treading water, measuring the results of your activity will give you a good indication of whether or not you’re headed in the right direction. In the grand scheme of things, this is called Business Analytics and it’s a vital part of any business.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. So, take the time to measure the performance of every aspect of your business before you change anything, add anything or remove anything. You’ll be surprised at how much more you can achieve once you have all the right numbers. Don’t be afraid to be creative in your measurements as long as you can back up your conclusions with solid evidence.
If you’re starting a business in today’s world, you need to be thinking globally. No, I don’t mean you need to be setting up a branch office in Tokyo; I mean you need to be considering the international ramifications of your business plans and the impact these will have on your bottom line. If your plan is to sell your product or service worldwide, you need to understand how to approach this from a financial point of view. This means being able to supply your product to other continents (and other planets, for that matter!) and keeping track of all the different currencies and taxes you’ll need to pay. If you want to do this on a tight budget, you might need to outsource some of these tasks or hire someone to help you navigate the tricky world of international commerce.
Put Everything In Writing
If you’re starting a business, you need to put everything in writing. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen business owners write a 10-page business plan as part of a pitch, only to discover that, in the end, it was totally unnecessary. There are endless possibilities for paperwork in business, and, at times, these can be the things that hold you back.
Things like contracts, legal agreements, and business policies should all be examined and put in writing so that everyone involved knows exactly what their responsibilities are. If you’re looking for a job, make sure you have all the relevant paperwork in order, including a resume, references, and, of course, the business plan. No one is going to give you the job unless you can prove to them that you can do the job, and, as the old saying goes, ‘paper is paper’.
You’re never going to get anywhere in life unless you’re willing to take the risk. Being brave means understanding that there are going to be ups and downs, successes and failures, but, in the end, you’re going to be better for it all together. In business, being brave means recognizing that you’re entering a new and risky world, committing to change and improvement, and being ready to embrace the consequences of these actions. If you want to succeed, be brave.