Growing your business is the natural goal of any entrepreneur. You want to plant the seed of your company, cultivate it, and do what you can to help it sprout and expand. However, you don’t want to try and grow too large too quickly. One of the fastest ways to kill a business is to try and force it into something it isn’t yet ready to become. But what’s the best way to scale your business, and how should you go about assisting in the growth of your company? Here are nine tips from successful entrepreneurs on how to best scale your business.
“The most important phase is your pre-work: surveying your audience to understand what they’re most interested in, and then running a pilot to test demand and ensure you’re providing information that’s relevant and important to them.”
Just everyone will tell you the more work you do in the “Pre” phase the better off your business will be. If you’re a movie fan, have you ever noticed movies are in “pre-production” for years before ever going in front of the camera? This is because movies can cost hundreds of millions of dollars and the team behind these movies want to remove as many unnecessary expenses and problems as possible.
Now, chances are your business will not cost hundreds of millions of dollars right out of the gate. However, by putting in the pre-work you’ll avoid the expensive mistakes later down the line. You’ll iron out potential problems and increase your success rate. Yes, it may potentially push back the launch date of your company, but it’s better to get it right and put in the effort beforehand, then to try and fix all the expensive mistakes down the line.
“You don’t have to appeal to every single person, but if there is somebody or a small group of people that really believe in the content you’re sharing and they find value in it, if you’re actually serving the aspirations that they have, then they will share that with others, they will make that a part of their life. And eventually, having that personal platform allows you to accomplish not only the things that you want for yourself and your family but ultimately the legacy you want to leave in this world.”
One of the more common mistakes new business owners make in an attempt to scale their business is to try and sell to everyone. That doesn’t work because not everyone wants what you have to offer. By attempting to market to everyone your business will stretch itself thin. One of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time came out in the early 2000s with the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” Apple commercials. In these commercials, Apple didn’t try to go after everyone. It pointed out what it could do and who would likely want its product.
The fact of the matter is few products will ever connect with all demographics. This is especially true in the current marketplace as target audiences become smaller and more fragmented. It is up to you to identify the small groups of people that believe in your product and go from there.
“You’re not supposed to market and get people to understand the value of what you have. You market so that people understand that you know how they feel. The best way to market is for people to feel you understand them, not trying to get them to understand your product and its value.”
Customers don’t want to feel dumb. They want to see a product that addresses their own issues. Think of yourself when making a purchase. Do you want something that feels like it is made just for you, or do you want to be hit over the head with information on how you should understand the product?
Yes, you need to educate customers on what sets your product apart, but instead of trying to educate someone on what your product is, instead, show how your product relates to the customer.
“Start with 1 or 2 main channels of communication and publishing where you can be sending people. Experiment with other touch points that you know people are using. Those might be doing Facebook Lives, Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and layering on other ways of reaching new audiences such as Facebook ads, guest interviews, and strategic partnerships. Keep it simple and always be sending people back to the main channels.”
This is a case of don’t try to expand yourself too quickly. Social media is a fantastic way to connect with your target audience. But when you’re starting out do you really have the time and resources to utilize a dozen different platforms?
Chances are the answer is no. So don’t focus on building up a dozen channels. Instead, know your target audience and what social media platforms they are using. From there, create and maintain these one or two platforms. Whether it is Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, or another platform altogether.
As your business scales up you’ll be able to add additional platforms. You may even be able to pay a social media manager to handle these tasks for you.
“Ask more questions, always. Assess whether “the one method” people are telling you is the only way to go, even makes sense for you and your topic or audience.”
As you and your business begin you’ll receive advice from a number of individuals. This includes current business owners, former business owners, and even just random people putting in their two cents. When you receive this information ask as many questions as possible. There’s no such thing as a dumb question here because it can ultimately save you money and help grow your business faster.
With the information you receive look at your own business and plug the answers in. You may find not all the answers are perfectly suited for your business. If you’re opening a restaurant and someone who runs a high-end French restaurant gave you advice, will 100% of the advice work if you’re business is a dive-bar pizza joint? Likely you’ll need to tweak the advice to better fit your business specifics.
Don’t be afraid to take the answers to questions you had and then bend the answers to better fit your business.
“We’re not in this business to just get people to buy our stuff. We want them to see the change and the impact and create the success stories.”
People buying your products is great. But you want to build products that will change their lives (even if in the smallest of ways). When you create something that helps your customer they will tell others about you and they will return for more. It’s far better to create quality material that brings them back then to make a one-off sale.
Just remember, a sale is one thing, but selling success takes it to an entirely different level.
“It’s incredibly important that you have some kind of a mechanism to turn the attention that you’re getting through your media interviews into leads and sales.”
People love to support local businesses. At least they like the idea of it (most people like the idea of a Mom & Pop store, although they’ll end up a Wal-Mart for the lower prices). So you need to educate the local community of your new, locally owned business. Most of the community will have your back, and some of them will begin shopping at your store. You just need to let the community know you’re there.
So how do you do that? Yes, social media and localized SEO is great. But there are other ways to make a splash. This is done through a press release in the local paper/news website and through news channels.
In fact, you can do this for free. Just contact the local paper/news channel and tell them about a soft opening, what your business is and the local jobs it’s creating. You may be surprised how much traction this kind of free exposure generates.
“Nobody is ever really perfect. You have to at some point decide this is what I’m going to roll with, and then tweak based on feedback. You don’t want to wait until you’re perfect because other people are launching. You want to launch, and you get that initial feedback, and you change and you tweak.”
If you want to obtain perfection you’ll never open. You need to accept mistakes will be made. So put in the research and iron out the wrinkles that you can. Then as you run your business correct and evolve as you go along.
“I do not subscribe to the theory of build it and they will come. I want to know what they want, and that’s what I’m going to build.”
Few companies can mandate what their consumers buy. Outside of two or three businesses in the world, this just doesn’t work. So instead of building something because you want to build it, learn what your customers want and then build that. It’ll be far more successful and your business will scale far faster this way.
Growing your business is all about your understanding of what consumers are interested in. The stronger your bond with your target audience the more likely they will return to make future purchases and stay with you for the long haul. Scaling your business isn’t always going to be easy. You’ll put in long hours and often large sums of money. But in the end, you’ll discover it’s all worth it as you watch your business take off and grow.