Running your own business takes everything you’ve got. On top of the actual work you do for your customers, you’re also the one doing everything else: Marketing, customer service, back office admin – if there’s a hat, you’re wearing it.
With so much on your plate, the idea of growing your business can feel out of reach. But with the right mindset and careful planning, growing your business of one is very achievable if you want it. Here are some ways to get you started (or get you further ahead) on that journey.
1. Foster a growth mindset
First off, get in the right frame of mind. Those who are afraid to try new strategies for fear of failure have a fixed mindset. They can’t do (fill in the blank) because they don’t know how, and might fail if they try.
A growth mindset means you’re not afraid of failure, but realize it’s part of the plan. Learning what doesn’t work is just as valuable as learning what does. The next time you try a new idea, you’ll be one step closer to success.
2. Nurture your existing customers
It may seem counterintuitive to focus on existing customers when you’re trying to attract new ones. However, nurturing them will better your chances of growing your business. You’ve gained their trust, and if they’re satisfied with your work, they’re more likely to recommend your business to friends and family.
One simple way to strengthen those relationships is via social media. Make sure you’re on the social media channels they’re
on. Use these to reply to questions and comments and to share updates and promotions. Give shout-outs to your most loyal customers, provide useful tips that are geared toward their needs, and run a contest to get them more involved with your brand.
3. Take the time to build your brand
Quality and consistent branding, even as a one-person business, can grow your credibility by helping you look trustworthy and professional. Think about your brand not just in terms of a logo, but as a personality. What’s the voice or tone of your brand? What does your brand stand for? Develop some guidelines that you can follow in everything you do – from talking to a customer to creating a Facebook ad. Put special emphasis on differentiating yourself from larger companies. You are unique and your branding should take advantage of that.
4. Be present in your local community
The fact that you are a small, local business is something people truly value, especially as big franchises continue to take over. You can highlight that by ramping up your connection to the community. Get out there and meet people. Get to know them by name. Take part in events like Small Business Saturday, and offer a discount to each customer who buys or books a service that day. Try holding fundraisers for local charities that align with your business. If you run a dog grooming business, offer to give a portion of sales to the local animal shelter. When customers know their money will benefit a good cause as part of doing business with you, they’re more likely to try your services.
5. Partner up and collaborate
Consider kicking off a few cross-promotions with complimentary businesses. For example, a plumbing business could collaborate with a septic tank cleaning business. They could share each other’s promotions via social media or offer discounts for plumbing when customers purchase a septic cleaning and vice versa.
6. Think outside the box
Intimidating as it may seem, try to come up with an idea that no one else in your industry has done before. It’s riskier than the tried and true strategies, but if it works, it may put your business on the map. But you won’t know until you try. Step out on a limb, and be willing to take some risks, and get people talking about you.
7. Set up shop in another location
If you have a brick and mortar business such as a barber shop or café, consider adding another location to reach a new customer base. Though this can be a boost in growing your business, it’s not a decision to take lightly. Keep these things in mind:
- Is your current business healthy? If you’re making steady profits, have more customers than you can handle, are regularly running out of inventory, or are short on staff, these are good signs of growth and your first green light to open a new location.
- Do you have enough funding? Even if your current location is profitable, you may not have the extra funds to open a new shop yet. A new location will mean more rent, more equipment, more staff, etc. If you have a good relationship with a lender, a business loan could open a door for you.
- Have you done market research? Your geographical location may be a key factor in your current business’s success. Is there another location that’s a perfect fit? You’ll need to provide value to your new customer base, so research what the locals are buying and what they want more of.
If the time isn’t right for another location, consider hosting a “pop up” location for a limited time only. This allows you to not only reach new audiences in new areas, but also to test new concepts or locations without a big commitment.
8. Diversify your product or service offering
Your success may be focused on one service or product, but consider adding something new. Are there products or services that would complement your current offerings? Could you sell other business’s products for a commission? Could you offer a course around your area of expertise?
There are many ways to diversify so you have multiple streams of income. Another benefit – this additional cash flow can help maintain profits during slow seasons. The important thing here is to not switch gears to something totally different than what you’re known for. Keep your original vision but always be pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and you’ll soon find new ways to take your business to the next level.