No entrepreneur launches a startup and hopes that the business will progress at a snail’s pace. For most new business owners, rapid growth and market recognition are at the top of the list of goals for their fledgling venture. But immediate success has always been the exception, not the rule — and even at that, nothing truly happens overnight.
While there’s no “magic bullet” solution that guarantees instant results, there are a few things you can do to boost your sales and brand image as quickly as possible. Small business experts and leaders shared their secrets for accelerating your company’s growth.
Hire the right people. Before you can even think about your company’s growth trajectory, you need to ensure that you have a solid staff that can help you achieve it.
“Hiring the absolute best people you can is a surefire way to ensure fast growth,” said Christian Lanng, CEO of business software provider Tradeshift. “It’s all about having the right team.”
“With a small business looking to grow it’s important to have the right players at the table,” added AprilDavis, founder of online dating service Cupid’s Cronies. “They need to be people who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves. The words, ‘That’s not my job,’ do not exist in their vocabulary. They have to be dedicated to the mission.”
Reduce your risks. Risk is an inevitable part of starting and growing a business. It’s impossible to control everything, but there are plenty of ways to limit internal and external threats to your company and its growth. One important resource to help you accomplish this is your business insurance provider.
“Small businesses need to manage their growth to avert disruptions that can bring business to a grinding halt,” said Mike DeHetre, vice president of product development at Travelers, a small business insurance provider. “For example … the theft of employee data, customer records and product designs can destroy a small business, generating significant costs and eroding customer confidence and loyalty. Not every business owner’s policy covers data breaches or other cyber losses. Small businesses should be prepared by seeking insurance products that help them recover, including those that cover the cost of remediation and lawsuits.”
As small businesses grow, they may add space or equipment, create new products or services, or increase their operating and distribution footprint, so DeHetre advised periodically reviewing your policy to ensure you have the right coverage.
“It’s easy to forget this step amid rapid expansion, but you don’t want to find out that you’ve outgrown your coverage just when you need it the most,” DeHetre said.
Be adaptable. One trait that successful startups often have in common is the ability to switch directions quickly in response to changes in the market. Lanng noted that an agile approach to development, both in terms of your product and your company, will help you grow more quickly.
“By allowing yourself to adapt and change quickly, you’re able to test different approaches to business and find out what works best,” Lanng told Business News Daily. “It allows you to fail, pick yourself back up and keep going.”
Focus on your customer experience. Customers’ perceptions of your business can really make or break you. Do a good job, and they’ll quickly sing your praises on social media; mess it up, and they’ll tell the world even faster. Fast growth depends on making your current and potential customers happy with their experience.
“Compared with large companies, small businesses are nimble, and often better able to see, anticipate and respond to their customers’ needs,” DeHetre said. “The most successful small businesses exploit this advantage, by bringing new and innovative products and services to market more quickly and developing and nurturing long-term customer relationships.”
Dennis Tanjeloff, president and CEO of Astro Gallery of Gems, agreed, and said that listening to your customers and giving them what they want is of utmost importance.
“Diversify your offerings so you can best cater to the customers’ changing tastes,” Tanjeloff said. “Remember, you are here to serve the customer — it’s why you are open for business.”
Invest in yourself. In the early stages of your business, you’ll likely see a very lean profit margin (or no profit at all), so any money you do make should go directly toward helping you grow.
“A startup’s ability to invest in itself [helps] accelerate growth,” Lanng said. “In those early years, it’s critical to make sure that you’re redirecting any revenues back into the company. It’s vital to invest early and heavily in order to grow quickly.”
Always think ahead. While agility is an important quality for a startup, you can’t fly by the seat of your pants when you’re running a business. Planning your next step, even if that means anticipating all possible scenarios, is the best way to stay grounded and secure as your business evolves.
“Set the foundation in place, water it and watch it grow,” Davis said. “If you do the foundational work, when you experience growth, it won’t be that difficult to adjust since the hard part is already done.”