Category: Uncategorized

How To Grow Your Business. Part 9

Do you want to grow your business? This second series of articles went beyond the basic ‘sell more / charge more’ advice to explore your options for business growth. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series has been the result.

Conclusion

Over the last few weeks, we’ve talked about the most important areas any business owner should consider when looking to grow their business. We’ve looked at diversification, adding locations, franchising, partnerships, sales growth, networking, and mobile commerce. If you’ve missed any of the parts, here’s a handy set of links to the whole series:

 

Intro

Diversification

Adding A Second Location

Start A Franchise

Strategic Partnerships

Grow Your Sales To Grow Your Business

How Networking Can Grow Your Business

Get Into The Mobile Space

 

If you found the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.

How To Grow Your Business. Part 8

Do you want to grow your business? This second series of articles goes beyond the basic ‘sell more / charge more’ advice to explore your options for business growth. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. Today’s blog looks at the importance of the mobile space.

Get Into The Mobile Space

According to recent research, many consumers now begin their purchasing decision via their smartphone, even if they go on to make the final purchase via desktop, telephone or in person. If you’re not in the mobile space, those same consumers will start their journey to purchase with a rival – and be more likely to end up with them, too.

The ideal solution could be to develop your own app, packed with information, content, product details and even a mobile commerce solution. You’ll need a developer to create a solution for each of the different platforms, including Windows Mobile, Android and Apple’s iOS. An added benefit is that people might find your business through app stores as well as web searches, but will they want to download and install an app to find out more?

If you don’t want to go the whole hog, then a responsive website is a good compromise. It can display all the same information that is on your desktop site, but presented in a way that reads well on a handheld device. Consumers appreciate the effort you’ll have made and the easier you make it for them to view your content, the more likely they are to stay with you – and the more likely they will be to make a purchase.

At the bare minimum, ensure that your website is viewable on the most common mobile platforms. Flash websites can be very, well… flash, but they won’t display on the Apple operating system, ruling out every single iPhone user as a mobile customer. And you know how ubiquitous they’ve become…

As smartphones and tablets become more powerful, sales of desktop PCs are in decline, meaning that your potential customers are increasingly likely to access your content in the mobile space. As this market grows, mobile commerce looks set to overtake ecommerce as the main revenue stream in the years to come. If you don’t have a mobile strategy in place already, maybe it’s time you started to think about it…

 

Next: Conclusion

 

If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.

How To Grow Your Business. Part 7

Do you want to grow your business? This second series of articles goes beyond the basic ‘sell more / charge more’ advice to explore your options for business growth. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. Today’s blog looks at how networking could help grow your business.

Networking

Ask any business mentor for a single tip to grow any business and they’re likely to suggest networking. Good contacts are essential for any company, but business owners often overlook cultivating them because time is too short.

Any business can only grow if it is built upon reliable people. And that doesn’t just mean the people you employ – you need to be able to rely upon third parties like your business partners and suppliers to enable your business to function flawlessly. Having contacts in different sectors, professions, and geographic locations is simply invaluable.

Business experts consistently recommend networking as the best form of acquiring new clients and contacts. But many business owners struggle to find the time to network effectively. Successful entrepreneurs spend their whole careers meeting and befriending other business owners, forging enduring relationships and trading favours. You should be no different. Networking is the one business tool that money can’t buy – it’s completely down to you, your attitude, and your pitch.

Take the time to prepare what you want to say and you’ll feel more confident networking. And your new contacts are more likely to want to do business with someone who is confident. Understand what makes you or your business unique and how you can explain that as succinctly as possible. Rehearse your pitch and keep to the point. You can always expand at a later date, when you follow up.

 

Next: Get Into The Mobile Space

 

If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.

How To Grow Your Business. Part 6

Do you want to grow your business? This second series of articles goes beyond the basic ‘sell more / charge more’ advice to explore your options for business growth. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. The obvious advice for business growth is either to sell more or charge more per transaction, but that isn’t terribly helpful. Today’s blog looks at a few practical ways you could boost your sales.

Grow Your Sales To Grow Your Business

OK, so the default advice for any business targeting growth is either to ‘sell more units’ or charge more per transaction. Easier said than done, right? That advice is so obvious it’s useless and yet ‘business gurus’ make entire livings out of dressing this truism up as insight. Let’s dig a little deeper and look at a few ways you could make that happen.

Any kind of business growth is best done from a position of strength, whether you’re looking for investment, a business loan or a flotation. Regardless of your industry, this usually means good sales figures and a healthy profit margin. But if your numbers aren’t strong enough to support the growth you hope for right now, how do you improve them? The art of sales is a huge topic, with a lot of different approaches and more blogs, websites, forums and books than stars in the sky. Some are proven, many are aspirational and most are self-serving. If anything has a subtitle that reads anywhere near ‘get rich quick’, leave it on the shelf or in your spam folder – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

I’ve worked closely with many sales people who vary from the real world version of Del Boy to Rupert Murdoch reincarnate and Richard Branson without the branding. James Caan still won’t return my calls, though. Over the years, I’ve picked their brains for just a few ways they might suggest improving your sales figures.

You could always expand your sales team, but more bodies doesn’t always mean more sales. You may see a more immediate uplift in sales by provide training for your existing team to improve their performance. A good combination of product training – so they really know WHAT they’re selling – and sales technique training – so they know HOW to sell it – could pay dividends.

The best sales strategies are nearly always based on a solid needs analysis and how your business can offer a solution to that need. In other words, work out who needs to buy what you’re selling and why. The why is important, because explaining that is how you convert them from a prospect into a client. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, but just remember on your next sales call to stop talking and start listening.

Invest in marketing. I know it’s a difficult department to quantify, but the potential for return is massive. Even if your brand isn’t a household name, how much easier would your sales team’s job be if their prospects were already aware of your company before they even started the pitch? Exactly. Look at ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ strategies to determine what would work for your business.

Old-fashioned marketing consists of display adverts, but new techniques include content marketing that sees your brand offer content of value to your customers. Here’s a peek behind the curtain – this blog is content marketing. I don’t write these for fun (although I enjoy doing them); they exist to get your attention. The fact that you’re reading these words proves it works as a 21st century marketing technique. If they’re useful and contain information of benefit to you, I hope you’ll remember that guy – what was his name? Steve Takle? How do you even say his last name? – and maybe tell your friends/colleagues/contacts about the article. Maybe when you want to do your own content marketing, you’ll remember the impression he made on you and book him for your own campaign. That’s probably enough third-person for one article, but if my flyer came across your desk tomorrow, or I called your marketing director looking for work, you’d be more inclined to listen to what I have to offer as a result. That’s how it works and that’s why many of the world’s biggest brands are investing heavily in this area.

The other growth area for marketing is social media. It’s the new hot ticket, but it’s so easy to get it wrong. Interact with your customers and prospects in a way that positively impacts their lives and you are golden. Hit them up with yet another sales message and bye-bye goodwill. The simple truth is that Twitter, LinkedIn and FaceBook can drive sales. The right activity will not only raise brand awareness, but can also encourage prospects to take advantage of promotions, sales or targeted discounts. So make sure that your social media strategy is working to its full effect. Get in touch if you want to find out more about how social media could boost your business, whatever your size.

The final area to look at is ecommerce. I expect that any successful business already has an established web presence, but the ability to complete – or at least initiate – online sales is a huge area for potential growth. Having a fully functional ecommerce website gives your customers the chance to buy your product around the clock, every day of the week. So your business can still make sales – even when the sales force has gone home for the day. At the very least, it can generate new leads for when your sales force hits the phones the next morning. And in a double-whammy of goodness, your website also enables you to increase sales by knowing more about your web visitors. Who they are, where they came from, what they viewed and for how long. All this information means that you can spot missed conversion opportunities and perhaps adjust your product, service or offering in response.

 

Next: Networking

 

If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.

How To Grow Your Business. Part 5

Do you want to grow your business? This second series of articles goes beyond the basic ‘sell more / charge more’ advice to explore your options for business growth. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. Today’s blog looks at strategic partnerships.

Strategic Partnerships

There are any number of ways that strategic partnerships can help your business grow, depending on the partner, but the basic idea is the same. Each party agrees to help the other where possible. This could be passing on prospects, giving referrals or exchanging goods or services.

You should try to find another business operating in the same industry or with crossover appeal – but not a competitor, for obvious reasons! It’s essential for any partnership to function that both parties are working for their mutual benefit. Everybody needs to come out of it with a ‘win’.

Let’s say you run a painting and decorating firm. Wouldn’t it be great to hear from a local tradesman when someone in your area needs a room painted? How about if a local plasterer left your business card with each client as he finishes his job, ready for you to step in? And of course, you return the favour by leaving his card with anyone who talks to you about a new extension. That’s a strategic partnership.

The variations are endless, depending on your business, what you can offer and what you need. The important thing is to think strategically about how another business can help yours – and how you can help them. The partnership could be as simple as swapping web links, or as involved as you like.

As a freelance copywriter, I have strategic partnerships with a select few graphic designers, web developers and branding agencies. These are all areas that I have some knowledge of, but don’t feel comfortable that the quality of work I could deliver to paying customers in these areas matches the same high standard I expect of myself in content marketing. Instead, I prefer to refer my clients to individuals and businesses that I know well and trust to deliver their best work on my behalf. Similarly, they have worked with me on many projects and know the value that I deliver to their customer base, so they are happy to refer their valued customers to me. I’ve built a network of trusted, respected strategic partners and everyone benefits by their involvement with new business flowing in both directions – and I recommend you do the same.

Whatever you do, do NOT pick an ad out of a directory and suggest a partnership. Sure, they’ll agree soon enough – what business owner wouldn’t turn down free advertising – but if the service is anything less than you would expect of yourself, then it could reflect badly on your own business. Every referral you make is a reflection of you as a professional. It just isn’t worth the risk.

It’s important that you don’t expect results straight off the bat – your strategic partner is unlikely to devote time or resources to marketing your business on your behalf (that’s your job). Think of it as a slow-burn, free form of marketing. You might not see immediate benefits, but the partnership may sow seeds that will ripen with time. That said, it’s important to monitor the effect that any partnership has on your business growth. If you don’t realise any benefit, but you know that you have passed a lot of business onto your strategic partner, it may be time to renegotiate for a percentage of the value of each referral, or call an end to the partnership. Don’t be afraid to move on if the relationship isn’t of benefit to your business – that’s the whole point, after all!

And remember that unless you both agree otherwise, they are free to refer their customers to the partner they feel is best suited to each job. I will refer a client to a different designer, depending on whether they need a company logo, print advert or website. That doesn’t mean that I don’t value the other’s talent or ability, simply that I expect my strategic partners to play to their strengths, just as I do. I want the best for my customers. And if your strategic partners aren’t comfortable with that, maybe they aren’t right for you.

When you manage your strategic partnerships well, they can be an invaluable source of additional revenue. Any business relies upon marketing to succeed and what’s better than a professional recommendation from a company whose customer already values their work and opinion? You can’t buy that kind of exposure. In fact, that’s the beauty of strategic partnerships as a marketing strategy – they don’t cost a penny.

 

Next: Grow Your Sales To Grow Your Business

 

If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.

How To Grow Your Business. Part 4

Do you want to grow your business? This second series of articles goes beyond the basic ‘sell more / charge more’ advice to explore your options for business growth. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. Today’s blog looks at how starting a franchise could be a low risk option.

Starting A Franchise

If you have an established business that could be scalable across more than one site, then offering a franchise is a lower risk alternative to opening another location yourself. Franchising your business could enable your brand to expand more quickly, benefit from the franchisees’ motivation and fresh energy, while spreading the financial risk across your franchisees.

Usually, they will pay you an initial fee, plus a percentage of their profits in return for the use of your company name and logo. Many franchise deals also include guidance and advice – or restrictions – to help the new franchise succeed with the benefit of your experience. This is the most popular franchise model, as it offers the franchisor additional income without relinquishing control of the brand they have worked so hard to build.

But this route isn’t suitable for people who like total control over every aspect of ‘their’ business – because it isn’t truly theirs anymore. Even though the franchisee must adhere to contractual obligations, they will be their own boss and they may make decisions that you won’t like. And if the new franchise fails, or offers poor service, that could reflect badly on your existing business.

That’s why it’s critical to find the right person to take on as a franchisee and decide how involved you want to be with the new site before you set pen to paper.

 

Next: Strategic Partnerships

 

If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.

How To Grow Your Business. Part 3

Do you want to grow your business? This second series of articles goes beyond the basic ‘sell more / charge more’ advice to explore your options for business growth. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. Today’s blog looks at whether adding a second location is your best option.

Adding A Second Location

If your business is location based – like a retail store – and it’s well established, then it’s possible that there isn’t much room for growth from that site. You could expand your product range, or invest in marketing, but another option is to repeat the success in another location.

Of course, the big benefit is that you will immediately reach a new set of potential customers with the ultimate goal of doubling your profit over time. And if that goes well, then you could be on your way to opening a chain of locations – and big money. By adding a second location, you’ll hope to be selling twice as much product, so you’ll need to order twice as much, so now’s the perfect time to renegotiate a better price from your supplier – good news for your existing site’s profit margin!

But you must be realistic about the costs involved both in the initial set-up of a second site and supporting it until it reaches break-even point. That could drain funds from your first location and the one thing you won’t want to do is jeopardise your existing business by overextending during an expansion phase.

Adding a location is an exciting prospect, but not one to leap into. You really need to dissect the books from your existing site to be certain that it can sustain both businesses in the short term. Even if you aren’t looking to secure investment to fund this growth, you should revisit your original business plan and revise it to reflect your latest plans. This will help to focus your thinking.

You could run each location as a separate business, but most likely, you’ll find that one will be a base of operations, with the other a satellite location. If that’s the case, then you need to plan how you intend to scale your administrative systems and management team to accommodate both sites.

Another consideration to factor in is the location itself. While you want the second site to be near enough to easily manage, while leveraging consumer goodwill in the area that you have built up with your first site, you need to make sure that the catchment areas don’t overlap, or your two locations run the risk of poaching each other’s trade.

But adding a location isn’t your only option for expanding your brand into another area. The next article looks at a lower risk alternative to adding a location: starting a franchise.

 

Next: Start A Franchise

 

If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.

How To Grow Your Business. Part 2

Do you want to grow your business? This second series of articles goes beyond the basic ‘sell more / charge more’ advice to explore your options for business growth. In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. Today’s blog looks at diversification.

Diversification

Diversification is perhaps the lowest risk method of growing your business. By offering complementary products or services, you not only extend your customers’ options, but you also add revenue streams without negatively impacting upon your existing business model. These revenue streams can boost your bottom line year-round, or they could offset quiet periods in existing revenue – whether seasonal or market driven – providing a more stable revenue year round.

By offering more products or services, you unlock the potential for effective cross-selling – or even upselling – to maximise the profit potential of existing customers. It could also bring in new prospects who are looking specifically for your new offering.

The principle is simple: if you sell someone a coffee cup, offer them coffee to put in it. And a kettle to boil the water, too. The most effective diversification makes full use of your existing infrastructure – whether that’s marketing, distribution, retail premises or more – to deliver new revenue opportunities for your business with the minimum outlay. Of course, the way that you can diversify depends on the nature of your business, so you’ll need to take a look at your business, then work out what kind of additional offering your customers might be interested in.

The benefit to your customer base is an improved service, the benefit to your business is increased revenue. Done well, diversification sees everybody win. If you’re concerned about diluting your core offering, the key is to view diversification as good customer service, rather than purely as an opportunity to wring more cash from your customer base. As long as the additional product or service is relevant and of genuine interest to your customers or prospects, then they may well be grateful that you can offer it to them.

As a professional copywriter, I’ll never be able to retire on fees earned from writing social media updates, but I know that many of my customers value the additional service. I might prefer higher value and more stimulating commissions such as writing a press release or devising a content strategy, but I pride myself on providing a complete service to my clients and they appreciate having one ‘content guy’ they can trust for everything.

Modern customers are busy people and value convenience – alongside value – so by offering them the coffee and kettle to go with their new coffee cup (or in my case, the Tweets to go with their new press release), you have made their lives easier. And for that, they will thank you.

 

Next: Adding A Second Location To Your Business

 

If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.

How To Grow Your Business. Part 1

Do you want to grow your business? This series of articles goes beyond the basic ‘sell more / charge more’ advice to explore your options for business growth.

Introduction

Last year, I published a series of articles explaining the world of the business start-up, “How To Start Your Own Business”. It proved to be very popular, so thanks to everyone that read it, enjoyed it and shared it via social media. I love you all.

During the course of that series, I’ve received several requests for similar plain-English, jargon-free advice exploring business growth for established SMEs – and I’m more than happy to oblige! The result is this nine-part series, “How To Grow Your Business”. It’s a concise, basic guide to your options for business growth that goes beyond the obvious advice to sell more or charge more.

In my role as Editor for The Business Show and Business Startup, I have talked with literally thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs about what they really need to know, not what a business guru thinks they need to know. This series is the result. Each article covers a different topic that every business owner targeting growth should know, from diversification to exploiting new technology. Some will be relevant to you, some might not, but I hope they all offer some inspiration or insight for new, innovative ways that you might grow your business.

 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at:

  • Diversification
  • Additional locations
  • Franchises
  • Strategic Partnerships
  • Growing Your Sales
  • Networking
  • The Mobile Space

 

Next: Diversification

 

If you find the series – or any of the articles in it – useful, please share them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. I’d really appreciate it, thanks. If you need professional copywriting for anything from your new web copy to marketing collateral and press releases, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today to find out how I could help your business.

How To Start Your Own Business. The End. Or Just The Beginning?

My sincere thanks to everyone who has favourited, followed – or even contacted me directly about – my recent series about how to start your own business. It’s great to know that so many entrepreneurs enjoyed it / found it useful.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, but I didn’t want to leave the last Friday before Christmas lacking an update from yours truly – I know you’d miss me!

I’m happy to tell you that I’m preparing a new series ready for the new year that should follow on nicely… any ideas what it could be about?