So, you’ve taken the leap and turned your passion project into a fledgling business. Great! Every company starts small – even Apple was launched from a garage – but what helps them succeed is ambition and a carefully-planned business growth strategy.
Around 20% of new businesses go bust in the first year, whilst a staggering 50% don’t make it past the five-year mark1, so getting your business growth strategy correct is key. Here’s how to do just that.
The following strategies – which we will explore in more detail in this article – will help you grow your small business. Notepad at the ready!
It represents the actionable steps a business takes to progress from one stage to another. Each business’s growth strategy should be tailored depending on its specific goal(s) – whether that’s opening in a new market, improving its products, and/or increasing sales and revenue.
On the journey to success and prosperity, most small businesses will go through five different stages of growth.
This is the very early stage of your business idea. You’re probably spending most of your time doing market research and exploring whether there’s enough demand for your product/service to make it a viable source of income.
The exciting part – your business is officially open and beginning to attract customers! You’re having to learn quickly to overcome challenges like cash flow or within day-to-day operations. Adaptability is the key to survival.
By now, you may be generating a steady income and a loyal customer base. Breaking even is the main focus; to do that may require strategic hires, investing in new technologies, or improving efficiencies.
You may also consider partnering with bigger brands during this phase, a strategy which will give you access to a larger pool of customers, as well as invaluable support and guidance from trusted advisors.
At this point in your trajectory, your business is hopefully profitable. Hurrah! With this stability, it’s a good time to explore growth opportunities, such as developing new products or expanding into new markets. Tread carefully though – ensure goals are in line with your resources.
With several successful years of the business behind you, you may be thinking about selling it. Or – if the entrepreneurial spirit in you is still thriving – introducing new expansion goals. Onwards and upwards!
This business growth strategy involves looking at your main competitors’ offerings to see where you can fill a gap in the market. It might mean selling your products at a cheaper price point than them, or introducing new products and services that aren't already out there. You can also learn best practices to market and sell more effectively – crucial when you’re gearing up for growth. Our free competitor analysis template will help you get started.
Before throwing lots of money at new product development, it’s worth reviewing your existing product portfolio to find where refreshes could be made instead.
Look at your lowest-selling items and ask some key questions:
Together these insights will help you determine what improvements can be made – or which products might need to be retired altogether.
This strategy involves entering a new market that your business doesn’t currently operate in, and creating a new product for that market.
For this, research is key!
It’s all about finding the golden gap in the market!
As a small business, it can be hard to compete with the giants like Amazon and Etsy, but a market segmentation strategy can help you by filtering a broader audience group into smaller groups that you can target with personalized campaigns.
You will have to invest some time to really understand which market segments are most likely to buy each of your products. Website analytics and purchase history will help here. You can then tailor your marketing per segment, for better conversion rates. It’s essentially a way of leveraging your customer data to expand your existing market penetration.
These days, consumers’ online footprints are vast and varied. They might browse for products on social media, compare prices on marketplaces, and then finalize their purchase on a brand’s e-commerce website. All of these platforms present sales opportunities for your business. Some top tips:
A great way for a small business to expand its market penetration is to team up with another brand. Let’s say you run a candle business. You could, for example, partner with a local spa to offer their visitors a discount for your website with every treatment they buy.
The partner shouldn’t be a direct competitor (i.e., another candle brand); rather one that has an overlapping audience with yours. You’ll both benefit from exposure amongst the other’s existing customers, which can boost sales for everyone.
Think about what your customers would like and reach out to some exciting brands. You’ve got nothing to lose!
A key part of your business growth strategy should be a marketing calendar filled with important dates for you to cash in on throughout the year – like Black Friday and the Christmas holidays. Each of these events can introduce your business to a new customer base which you can then retarget in the future – key to growing your business.
Feeling inspired to take your business to the next level? Don’t forget to speak to DHL. As experts in international logistics, we can help your business find and sell to new markets seamlessly. Sign up for a DHL Express Business Account today – who knows where it will take you!