Bill Gates said, “There will be only two kinds of businesses, those with an internet presence, and those with no business at all.” Many business owners don’t really want their baby to grow too quickly into a wayward and lanky adolescent – in other words, one that’s too big, too rowdy and too difficult to control. Most simply want better, not necessarily bigger. Additionally, growth, in whatever form it comes, needs to come when you’re ready for it, and able to move forward with it.
Below, I’m going to go over four important steps to take in growing your small business. Each of them is essential to moving your business forward, in a manageable and structured way. 4 big steps.
Marketing: The Power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
How right Mr. Gates was (undoubtedly, not for the first time). No internet presence, no presence at all. That’s the way the world works now. In the past, if there was something we needed to know, we went to a telephone directory or an encyclopaedia or even phoned a friend. Not anymore. We ask the world. And the answers aren’t listed alphabetically anymore.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of our core services here at Red Door Studios, and, as mentioned earlier, your ranking with Google isn’t everything. That said, it does help, to put it mildly. Yes, a cool-looking website is all well and good, but if Google puts you on results page 46 when people type in “Boston plumbers” and you’re a plumber in Boston, not many people are going to know you even exist, however quick and professional you are at fixing a leak. It really is basic marketing, and it needs to be done well.
SEO is pivotal in getting your website ranked higher on search results, whatever the search engine. The best advice? Seriously, hire someone to do all the optimization for you. And I’m not just saying that. It really is the easiest way. If your budget or financial resources don’t extend to that, it’s DIY-time. Two words, think local. Local SEO is a great tool for driving local business. Learn more with Local SEO Generator. Additionally, there are some great SEO websites around (ours included), offering free tips, advice, reports, and much more.
Customer Relations: Treat Customers like Family
Apart from the people I employ (the business’s biggest asset – mine, yours), no-one is more important than the client. No-one. One thing the “big boys” of business have over the small ones is this: customer relations. However, being small and local gives you a little edge, so make the most of it.
Every single customer, every single member of your customer base should be treated like they’re part of the family, part of your business family. Being able to maintain your customer’s satisfaction on a more personal basis can be a big step in them becoming a loyal, repeat customer, and worth their weight in gold (figuratively speaking, of course).
Don’t stop there. Reward such loyalty and repeat business with personalized notebooks for your best customers, or give them special offers or discounts; both will surely enhance that customer relationship even further.
Financial: Investing Profit Elsewhere
Ploughing your profits back into your business has always been regarded as simple good advice. However, it’s not always the case, and doesn’t make good business sense every single time. There will be occasions when it is much more advantageous to you to invest your profit elsewhere, into something other than your own business. Sound a little off-the-wall, a little crazy? Well, it’s an option for you, one that some business owners never consider, ever.
Consider this scenario. You require X amount of capital to invest into a particular project inside your business. However, your accountant is telling you that X is a little high and you actually only have Y, a little short of X. It may then make perfect business sense to put what you do have (Y) into another type of investment, outside of your business. A famous quote from a certain Warren Buffett: “I’m a better investor because I’m a businessman, and I’m a better businessman because I’m an investor.”
Employees: Your Biggest Asset
Lastly, and definitely not least of all, never forget your most important business asset: your employees. They require investment, through professional development, just as much as other areas of the operation, and failure to do so will leave your small business with the will to grow, but not the key resources required. Invest in them, reward them every single time they excel, and listen to them. You may learn something.
4 Big Steps
These steps – marketing: the power of SEO, customer relations: treat customers like family, financial: invest profits elsewhere, and employees: your biggest asset – will, if incorporated into the very heart of your business, just like the company culture you continue to instil, ensure the strong and steady growth your business craves.
What advice or tips would you give to a small business? A different take on one of those above, or something completely different? Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas and experience with a comment below.
Think karma. What you give always comes back. Finally, don’t forget yourself in all of this. You need investment too. Learn as much as you can, as well as you can, and as quickly as you can. Always strive yourself to be better than you were yesterday.