Starting a business is no walk in the park. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 20 percent of small businesses fail their very first year, around 50 percent fail by their fifth year and 66 percent have failed by their tenth year. Why is that?
There are many reasons. But to help prevent you from becoming part of the statistics, here's a list of 10 habits that successful small businesses utilize. You can implement these right away to set yourself up for success, whether you operate an LLC or other type of company.
1. Use Money to Make Money
One of the best ways to grow your business is to use money to make money. I’m sure you’ve been told to save your money — protect it, don’t waste it. While that is true to an extent, if you want to have one of the most successful small businesses in your area, you need to use the available money in your business to help it grow.
Look for things you can use your money for that will bring you the best returns. This could be advertising or marketing, or perhaps hiring a new employee. The idea is to spend X amount of dollars on something with the expectation that it will allow you to bring in many multiples of that number.
Money is meant to be transacted — use it to your advantage as you create a successful small business.
2. Focus on Your Strengths and Outsource the Rest
How much time do you spend in your business diving into uncharted waters? It’s as if you’re floating in the middle of the ocean just trying to find your way to land with nothing in sight. But truly, working where you're not proficient is time-consuming and not efficient. You should be focusing on the areas of your business that you are highly skilled at and outsourcing the rest.
For instance, if sales isn't your thing but you're one heck of a marketer, spend your time on marketing and hire someone to run the sales side of your business. If your salesperson can generate more revenue than what it costs to pay them, the expense is well worth it. If you don’t want to bring on a sales team, consider utilizing a broker that you pay a commission for any sales or new business they bring you. Focus on your strengths and use others to work in alternate areas of your business.
There are plenty of ways to use online services to outsource as well. If you don’t want to be bothered by the piles of letters and notices you receive in the mail, you can outsource through Incfile and use them as your Registered Agent. This is one way you can stay focused on valuable areas of your business as you manage your company to help it grow.
3. Leverage Social Media Marketing
Why do I love social media so much? It’s FREE. There aren’t many things you can say you don’t need to pay for in life, but social media is one of them — and it's a great way to grow your business. Start a business page on various platforms and use them as leverage to get your business in front of your consumers.
Post about new products, sales, and anything you feel would be important to let your audience know about. The main goal is to build a community surrounding your business. You want people to engage with you and look forward to your next posts. Bring them value, and they will most definitely support you and your successful small businesses.
You can also use paid ads on many of the social media platforms. I personally believe these are currently underpriced — so if you find Facebook or Instagram ads are working for you, double down and make ads a main focus to help drive traffic and sales for your business.
4. Form Strategic Partnerships
What are some of the other successful small businesses in your area? Are there any in a similar channel where you can form a strategic partnership to potentially cross-promote your businesses and help each other grow? For example, if you are a gym owner, is there a juice bar or supplement store nearby you can work with?
You'll find that successful small businesses often work with other local businesses to target the same customers and demographics. It makes sense: If the gym can drive sales to the juice bar to improve its member's health and recovery, then it's also adding value for members by introducing them to the juice bar. Likewise, if someone is very health-conscious and frequents the juice bar for a nutritious smoothie, it would be advantageous for them to be introduced to the gym where they can exercise and further improve their health.
Strategic partnerships are a win-win for all parties, and getting in the habit of cultivating these relationships is recommended if you are trying to figure out how to grow your business.
5. Build Your Email List
Building an email list allows you to reach out and touch your consumers whenever you have something to share. This could be a product launch, a big sale, or other news surrounding your business or value you are trying to add. Successful small businesses leverage their email list to stay fresh in the minds of customers while not coming across as salesy or spammy.
Look at your business and customers and figure out how often you need to reach out to them via email. Do you always have sales running? For instance, DSW (shoe retailer) emails every single day to let customers know about current sales. If you have a construction business, emailing every day would be overwhelming — it wouldn’t bring much value, and the unsubscribe rate would increase (you’d lose people on your list).
6. Use a CMS
If you are trying to figure out how to grow your business, you should definitely look into a CMS, or customer management system. Remembering a handful of customers or prospects is fairly easy. But if you 10x or 100x that number, it quickly becomes impossible to remember that many people and all their information.
A CMS allows you to keep notes on your customers and the prospects you reached out to. You can insert order history, the last time you called them, and notes based on information they may have told you about why they weren’t ready to purchase yet.
Successful small businesses need to pay very close attention to customers and retention. To keep your customers, you need tracking software in place to manage sales and follow up. This also helps build brand loyalty, as it can help you follow up with customers to ensure they're enjoying their purchase or ask if they have any questions.
7. Create a Loyalty Program
One thing successful small businesses all have in common is repeat sales. So how do you continue to bring people into your business to purchase? Create a loyalty program. The more loyal customers are with your brand, the more you should support them by giving back through a loyalty program.
Create a program where every dollar spent equals a certain number of points. At a certain threshold, customers can redeem those points for free items or discounts. Many restaurants are utilizing this already, and even apparel retailers are tossing their hat into the ring. It’s a brilliant strategy to implement when trying to figure out how to grow your business.
8. Set Daily Goals
When running a business, you need to be working toward something. If you go through your day without something to strive for, you may find you’re spinning your wheels without making any real progress. Successful small businesses utilize goals like a pin placed on a map: How can you go from point A (your starting point) to point B (your end goal)?
With sales or revenue goals each day/week/month, you have something to work toward. Set realistic goals that are measurable, and then analyze how you did. Did you hit your goal, exceed it or miss it? Why and how? Do some analysis to figure out a strategy to continuously make improvements.
9. Create Content That Shows You’re an Expert
Content is king these days, and people like engaging with content that brings them value. Your job is to figure out what questions your audience and customers have, and then answer them in the form of content. This can be blog posts, YouTube videos or a podcast — maybe you write one piece and then record yourself reading it for another medium.
This will give you several ways to connect with your audience by creating only one piece of valuable content. Your goal should be to become an authoritative brand in your industry where people look to you as an expert.
10. Network With Everyone
Successful small businesses are always networking; you should constantly be looking to connect with like-minded business owners, even if they aren’t in your industry. Why is this? It’s simple: You never know who that person knows. You could be talking to a pizza shop owner who has a good friend looking to join a gym. Good news! You have a gym.
Networking is all about who you know and what value you can bring to them. Don’t think you can just sit back while everyone else sends you leads and customers — you need to be sending business to those you network with, so they will see you’re helping them grow their business and are more willing to reciprocate.