11 strategies to grow your business

August 26, 2023 | 9 minute read

Steve Strauss

Written by
Steve Strauss

The senior small business columnist for USA Today, Steve is also a brand ambassador with 20 years of experience and the author of 18 books, including his latest, Your Small Business Boom.

Once a business gets past the startup phase, it enters what is commonly considered the growth phase. Afterall, business is in fact about growth, and growth is most achievable and sustainable once the “growing pains” of the startup phase are over.


Consequently, mature businesses are always looking for ways to improve and grow. Here are strategies to consider as you plan for your business’s growth.


1. Hire the right people

Hiring the right employees offers advantages to a growing business. For starters, you find people who know (or who can learn) how to do the job right. That alone is good for productivity, customer relations, your brand, and more.


In addition, when you bring on the right people, they bring to the table new skills and ideas that often can help drive innovation and growth. Additionally, good hires can aid in fostering a positive work environment and create a healthy company culture, which can help improve morale and reduce turnover.


The secret is to hire exceptional employees by offering a great compensation and benefits package with an equally great place to work. That way, you can be assured that when you post a job listing, top talent will apply.


2. Reduce risk

Risk is an inherent part of entrepreneurship and running a business. Taking out a loan, launching an expensive media campaign, hiring and firing – all involve risk to some degree.


Great businesses take risks, but they are generally calculated, smart risks. In fact, the best businesses look to reduce risk as much as possible because they know that, left unchecked, risk can hinder growth. As a business expands and takes on new challenges, the potential for unexpected problems and setbacks also increases. By reducing risk, your business can mitigate potential threats and minimize the impact of any unforeseen events.


There are several ways to reduce business risk:


1. Be adequately insured.  Your insurance may protect you from property loss, data breaches, theft of intellectual property, etc. Speak with your broker for more information.

2. Legally protect your intellectual property. Which includes website content, secret recipes, or the prototype of a new product. Meet with your lawyer to discuss.

3. Diversify your revenue streams.  By having multiple profit centers, you reduce reliance on any one product line, service offering, or big customer.


3. Build a sales funnel

A sales funnel starts with many potential leads at the top that filter to a smaller number of customers at the bottom.


A sales funnel process helps ensure growth because it works to turn those prospects at the top into buying customers at the bottom. For example, someone ends up on your website and looks at a product you sell but doesn’t buy. You could use retargeting ads that make sure prospects see your product and ads on other sites they visit. Or maybe they see the ad somewhere with a discount offered. The key is to move them from prospect to customer. Doing so is essential to growing a business.


Here are some steps that a business can take to build a sales funnel:


1. Define your market: Conducting market research to understand your ideal customer is the first step in building a sales funnel. This will help you know who to target and how to target them.

2. Attract new leads: Attracting potential customers to your funnel involves creating awareness of your brand and products. This can be done through different marketing efforts such as pay-per-click ads, content marketing, follow-up phone calls and emails, and social media marketing.

3. Convert those leads into customers: This can be done by learning about the prospect and their needs and working to help them – not sell them. Show them the benefits of their choice and offer incentives such as discounts.


4. Increase the customer experience

To better understand the meaning of “increasing the customer experience,” consider the difference between shopping at Nordstrom versus a run-of-the-mill retailer. Nordstrom empowers and encourages their employees to go above and beyond for their customers. Whether it’s keen attention to detail or fast service, the brand’s unwavering commitment to delighting customers is regarded as an industry benchmark for building long-lasting customer relationships and increasing customer satisfaction.


As such, if you want to grow your business, increasing your customer’s experience can really help because it not only fosters customer loyalty, but it can also directly lead to increased and repeat business. Moreover, satisfied customers are more likely to recommend a business to others, leading to new customers and increased revenue.


Here are some steps your business can take to increase the customer experience:


1. Listen to customer feedback: Regularly gathering and analyzing customer feedback is key to understanding their needs and wants.

2. Personalize the experience: Personalizing the customer experience can make customers feel valued and increase their overall satisfaction. This can be done by remembering customer preferences, or recommending products or services based on past purchases.

3. Provide excellent customer service: Providing truly excellent customer service can help build strong relationships with customers and increase customer loyalty. This can include responding promptly to customer inquiries, addressing concerns or complaints, and going above and beyond, exceeding customer expectations.


5. Extend to new markets

New markets mean new people become aware of your business. And that in turn, means new customers and more sales. So, how do you extend into new markets? Whether the market is offline or online, the process and considerations are similar:


1. Is the new market something that your business and team have expertise in, or can learn? New markets require time, money, and resources, so ensure the target market is one that you can excel in and one that will pay off.

2. Is the market conducive? That is, is there a market for what you want to sell? How much competition is there? Will it hurt or help your present business?

3. How much will it cost to enter this new market? The costs of entering a new market may look similar to your initial startup costs. Some potential considerations are incremental licensing and permitting fees, payroll for hiring new talent, new equipment and supplies, market research to know your new audience and budget to execute marketing strategies.


6. Expand your customer reach

Like expanding your sales funnel, expanding customer reach means increasing the number of potential customers that a business can reach through its marketing and sales efforts. This really is a matter of finding new customers who can enter your sales funnel.


Expanding customer reach can help a business increase its revenue by creating a new potential pool of customers. It can also help mitigate the impact of losing customers and economic downturns by diversifying the customer base.


There are several strategies your business can use to expand its customer reach, including:


1. Digital marketing: Use digital marketing tools such as social media, email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) to find and reach new potential customers.

2. Partnerships and collaborations: Partner with other businesses or organizations to reach different customers and access new markets. One option to consider here could be corporate sponsorship.

3. International expansion: Expanding into new international markets allows you to reach new customers and diversify your customer base. This is especially easy and affordable to do online.


7. Analyze your competitors

Analyzing your competitors is crucial for a growing business because it allows you to gain potentially crucial insights into both the overall market and the competition. This can help your business make informed decisions about its growth strategies, market positioning and target market. In addition, by analyzing and better understanding the competition, a business can identify its own strengths and weaknesses and tailor its approach accordingly.


Begin by visiting your competitors’ websites and social channels to help answer these questions.


  • Who are they? What are they offering that is different, special, better even?
  • What is their product line like?
  • What is included in their About page?
  • What do online reviews say about their products or services?


Also, be sure to observe the competition directly, for example by visiting their stores, attending events, or speaking with customers.


8. Attend / host networking events

For the growing business, networking offers a plethora of possibilities:


  • It expands your reach to potential new customers
  • It gives you opportunities to meet potential strategic or joint venture partners
  • It results in more people learning about your business, thereby building your brand


And that, in turn, can generate more sales.


Networking can happen both in the virtual world as well as in the physical world. Virtually, groups related to your industry can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, on industry websites and other similar places. MeetUp is also another good choice.


Offline, check with networking groups like Le Tip and chambers of commerce. Participation can include attending, speaking at and hosting events.


9. Sustainability

Showing your commitment to worthy causes can go a long way to creating a bond of loyalty with your customer base. Implementing sustainable business practices is your way of both sharing your values with the community and showing what you do to promote those values. For a company in the growth stage, it is a valuable way to increase your customers’ commitment to your business.


Sustainability can look many ways. You could donate a portion of your profits to causes you support. You could sponsor local events or teams. You could promote diversity and inclusion in your hiring practices. And you can enlist your employees by creating an internal sustainability committee to find ways to help the company grow market share and save money.


10. Invest in systems

Investing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like Salesforce, accounting systems like QuickBooks, and automated payroll is important for a growing business because it helps improve efficiency and effectiveness. Automated, often cloud-based, systems can help a growing small business better manage its finances, employees, inventory and more.


By investing in these systems, a growing business can gain a competitive advantage and lay the foundation for long-term success. Indeed, adopting effective systems helps promote stability and scaling.


11. Strategic planning for the future

A growing business must look to the future, and plan for it. This is where strategic planning fits in. It is like creating a playbook for your company’s growth.


One way to do so is to incorporate what are known as SMART goals into your planning process. They help turn good ideas into concrete plans. SMART goals are:


1. Specific: clearly defined and specific goals allow a business to understand exactly what it wants to achieve.

2. Measurable: quantifiable goals make it easier to track progress and measure success.

3. Achievable: realistic and achievable goals take into consideration the resources and limitations of the business.

4. Relevant: goals that are in line with the overall vision and direction of the business.

5. Time-bound: Finally, goals with a defined deadline provide a sense of urgency and accountability.


Bottom line

Growing a business is a challenge, yes, but a very doable one. The trick is to find and adopt ideas that align with your business and purpose to ensure its continued growth.

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