The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinions, policies, or positions of StreetShares or any of its affiliates.
Congratulations! You have taken the plunge into the world that many dream of but few make the leap; you are a small business owner. You are on your way to being a staple in American culture. Did you know that 2 out of every 3 new jobs in the U.S are created by small businesses? After the initial rush of launching the business, telling friends and family about your new venture, and getting everything just so, you realize that your business cannot thrive on adrenaline alone. You need customers. You need growth. While there are a plethora of ideas floating around out there, you need to mindful of your time and efficiency. After all, you are running a business! Here are some ways to begin seeing marked growth with your new small business:
One of the most significant ways you will grow your business is through word of mouth. Everyone you cross paths with whether face-to-face or virtually should know that you have your own business. Direct them to where they can go for more information, like your store location or web address.
More from Adriana Clifford: How to Network (Even if You Hate it)
Know Your Customer Base
Your customer may be defined for you as someone who you physically see walking into your store, or they may be someone you never see because your business is entirely online. Either way, you need to know what they want and like. You may have started your business out of deep love or passion, which is fantastic- but you need to be able to view your business through the eyes of your customers. An excellent way to do this is to engage with your customers. Get them talking or sending messages about what brought them in and what their needs are.
Get Your Product Out There
Depending on the type of business you own, this will vary, but the idea is still the same. You want your customers to have exposure to your product or service in small doses so that they come back for more. For those of you physically making products, think of places you could sell or give free samples of what you are all about within your community; street fairs, farmers market, events at your store. If your business is virtual, consider ways your customers can get a small sample of what you offer to determine their feelings about this. Remember, at these early stages you are not a brand. People need to be able to build their trust and you need to build your credibility within the market space you occupy. This is a way to do that that costs your customers nothing and you very little.
Get the Word Out
Two words for you- social media. While certain platforms are industry staples, you need to evaluate what your business offers and where the best place is to showcase that. Can you photograph your inventory? Consider gravitating towards Instagram and Pinterest, which are highly visual. Those of you looking to say more should consider Facebook or Twitter. You should consider having a presence on all social media platforms that make sense for your product and audience. If you’re unfamiliar with how the inner workings and analytics of any of these sites operate, take a class via LinkedIn Learning or Udemy.
Help A Reporter Out! HARO is a website that will allow you to begin to be known as a business owner in your area. They allow you to have access to a database of journalists that are waiting to be fed tips and news about what is new within their reporting communities.
Actively Seek Referrals
We already know that word of mouth (or word of text these days) is incredibly powerful. Consider asking your current customers if they know of anyone who would benefit from being a customer of your business. You can take it a step further and provide an incentive for those who bring you referrals such as a percentage off a good or service.
Set Goals for Yourself and Your Business
Make sure that the goals you set are realistic but challenging at the same time. I’ve found that new small business owners do not like to set goals for themselves because of the feeling of guilt for not hitting them. Without the use of goals, you have no way to measure whether you or your business is growing or are remaining stagnant.
Focus on a Niche Market
Have you ever been to a job interview and been asked “why should I hire you over the other applicants?” Or has anyone ever posed the question to you in your personal life “what makes you, you?” The same thought process goes into running your small business. Think about the big picture of the industry you are a member of and then work backwards from there. Keep going until you get to a point where it is blatantly apparent where your focus is.
If Cash is a Problem
Consider putting yourself on a crowd-funding platform like Kiva where you can obtain loans with no interest attached. This platform works well for those who do not have a deadline as money is raised, it is not guaranteed. If a small business loan is needed, you’ve come to the right blog! Street Shares offers veteran-owned businesses term loans, lines of credit and contract financing.
Not only is giving back to those less fortunate good for the human condition, it is a fantastic way to connect with people in your community. Develop relationship and a rapport with those in your community to help your business flourish.
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This communication is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be an advertisement, a solicitation, or constitute professional advice, including legal, financial, or tax advice, nor is StreetShares providing advice on any particular situation.