If you’re a business owner, you’ve likely wondered about the most effective ways to grow your business. You’re ready to move ahead and do more with your company, but every time you try things seem to fall flat. Does this mean that there’s just no way to grow your business? Of course not.
You can learn how to grow your business just like you can learn anything else – it just takes time and effort.Instead of throwing ideas at a wall and hoping something sticks, take a deliberate approach. Growing your business requires an innate understanding of exactly what it (and you!) stand for – and why.
What you will get from this article:
Learn how to identify your company’s story and your own
Understand how to identify where your business is at, and where you want it to be
Learn 10 ways you can grow your business
YOUR BUSINESS HAS A STORY
Everyone has a chronological timeline of events that comprise our personal histories, a type of narrative detailing our experiences and the value and meaning we inherently assign to those experiences. One of my core philosophies is that the stories we tell ourselves define us.
Growing your business puts you in a position of opportunity. The series of events leading to this point is subject to your narrative, as are current and even future events. Since your inner dialogue influences every decision, including your business decisions, it is critical that you master the art of framing your experiences so that they enhance your state instead of dampening it.
Apply this manner of thinking to your business. A series of events led to its “birth” and current stage of growth. Those events are subject to interpretation by your narrative, so you must work diligently to frame your business’ life cycle in a way that creates effective business growth strategies.
Creating a business map provides a narrative – an interactive version of your business’ timeline while clarifying the purpose and goals of the business. Your business map will tell a story that defines your business. Make sure it is one of authenticity, purpose and drive. Delve deeply into processes, inputs and workflows, as well as what impact you want to have on the community.
Once you have your map, update it constantly as you explore new ways to grow your business. Because we are in an environment that is continuously changing, you have to adjust your map accordingly to match your company’s strategic innovation efforts and stay ahead of the game.
HOW TO MAKE A BUSINESS MAP
When making a business map to help you learn how to grow your business, you must start with answering a series of questions. The more honest you are about where you are currently, the better able you’ll be to end up at your desired result: business growth strategies that work. Below is an example of a business map so that you can start mapping out your own process.
HOW TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
Whether you’re a one-person operation or you already have a handful of employees, learning how to grow a business is a natural way to build on your achievements. But you’re not going to get very far if you don’t know where to start. Follow these 10 steps for healthy, profitable growth.
1. UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS YOU DO
Who are you in your business, and whom are you serving? For example, what business is Starbucks in? You might say coffee. But ask Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and you’ll likely get the story of his trip to Italy. There he saw people eagerly meeting in cafés before and after work. The promise of a transitional meeting place between home and work was the seed that grew into Starbucks.
He knew his business was about creating a consistent experience, not just delivering coffee. Grasping the deeper meaning that is infused with your company is a huge part of helping your business grow. Revisit your core company values and determine whether you’re current product and service line-up aligns with the company you want to be. For example, you may be in the business of selling tires, but you can also stand for helping the homeless if this is your core value and you donate a certain amount of profit each month to local shelters.
2. KEEP AN EYE ON THE STATE OF YOUR INDUSTRY
If you understand what your business really is, you can anticipate changes in the market and continue to find ways to grow your business. You’ll see the possible opportunities and threats that you otherwise might overlook and prevent disruption from competitors who are adept at anticipating change.
3. EVALUATE YOUR EMPLOYEES
Who do you have now as part of your team? Are they on board with your company values? Do you have effective recruitment strategies to find the kind of people you need? Is there anyone who isn’t a good fit anymore?
Take stock of the assets you have, the assets you lack and what’s holding you back. Again, you can’t learn how to grow a business without a full, accurate picture of your current position.
4. REMEMBER THE CLIENT COMES FIRST
I'm talking about creating “fans”; these are clients that stick with you and really appreciate your brand, not just the item or service you’re selling. Learning how to grow your business means also learning how to attract and retain these types of loyal customers.
Drill down into who your ideal client is. Develop empathy for them. What do they need? What are their pain points, and what do their lives look like? Everything your company provides – whether it’s a product or service – must be aimed at making your customer’s life easier.
5. KNOW WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
What makes you talkably different from your competitors? Think about where you stand in the grander scheme of things. Are you in an aging industry and need to get out? Are you the clear incumbent or are you charting completely new territory?
No matter where you are, you have two choices: you can grow or you can die. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. It’s easy to say “I want to understand how to grow a small business,” but then what? If your why is strong enough, your how will come.
And good news: You just laid out your why. You’ve just figured out what business you’re really in and why, what your clients need and why. So now it’s time to figure out the how of business growth, which is the key to mastering business growth strategies.
6. KEEP ADDING VALUE
Once you understand how to consistently offer more value than anyone else in your market, you’re in a better position to identify where you are now. You’ll also clearly see what it will take to get to where you want to be.
You’ll have more certainty about what your business needs to do to grow now, and you’ll be better able to steer your organization in accordance with that vision. Most importantly, you’ll understand what business you need to be in to become the dominant force in your market.
7. TAKE ONLINE BUSINESS COURSES
You don’t have to get your MBA to learn how to grow your business, but it never hurts to further your education. There are hundreds of accredited online business courses that can teach you everything from marketing skills to general business growth principles to specialized techniques for finding your niche.
You can do most of them from the comfort of your home and on your own time.
8. WORK WITH A BUSINESS COACH
No man is an island, and this is especially true for entrepreneurs who are trying to learn how to grow a small business. Working with a professional business coach can take you from a “wantrepreneur” to a true force in the business world. A coach can help you develop your business map and problem-solve everything from time management issues to building a team that works.
9. REACH OUT TO MENTORS
You’re not the only one trying to learn how to grow your business. Many have walked this same road before and are eager to help you – or even share your path. A good network of mentors consisting of those who are in your same boat and those who have already achieved success is the perfect way to get new ideas and perspectives. When you expose yourself to others’ ways of thinking and solving problems, you stay flexible and are better prepared to face the changes that inevitably come with running a company.
10. STAY FLEXIBLE
One of my tenets of peak performance is flexibility. Growing your business means change – and it won’t always be comfortable. You may realize the night before a launch that a product needs a complete redesign. Go with it: Pull the product from the market and make it right rather than send out something that might be defective. Your marketing team might come up with an outrageous plan to spread the word across social media. Be flexible and try new things.
Understand that change is necessary for any kind of growth. So long as you’re staying true to your company’s core values and developing products and services your customers want and that you believe in, these rough patches will pass.
You’ve put a lot of work into your business: Now’s the time to let it pay you back. With solid core values and strategies, a strong plan and support from peers and coaches, you can learn how to grow your business and achieve financial and personal freedom.
READY TO ELEVATE YOUR BUSINESS TO NEW HEIGHTS?
Discover effective growth strategies and develop a business plan that will project your company towards next-level success with Dominik Stone’ 7 Steps of Business free content series - DISCOVER MY DRIVING FORCE.