Do you have a steady core of regular customers that keep your sales going at a consistent level? If that’s all you have, your business is headed for a slow and painful death, because without growth, even the most profitable business will eventually wither and die.
While regular customers are an excellent starting point for business growth, the reality is that over time, you will lose them. They may move, no longer be able to afford your services, go out of business themselves or simply stop liking what you sell. Without new customers and growth, those losses will eventually cripple your business. So how can you plan for business growth in 2016? Here are our top tips:
Have a plan. Hopefully, after reading this article you take the time to sit down and prepare a well thought out plan for expansion that incorporates the other suggestions below into a structure that you and your business can follow. In addition to a plan for 2016, you should also prepare plans for 3-10 years into the future so that your short-term plans align with your more distant goals.
Consider all your options. Even if your core business is incredibly successful now, it might not always be in demand (Kodak once held a dominant worldwide position in camera and photographic film sales and technology, but filed for bankruptcy in 2013 due to the transition to digital imaging – which was ironically an initiative of Kodak’s that they failed to pursue!). In considering your options, you should look at expansion opportunities into existing markets (either new products and services or new locations) as well as emerging markets (such as new technologies). By making your business less reliant on one product or service, you greatly reduce the risk of obsolescence for your business.
Build a digital footprint. As the world becomes more and more connected digitally, businesses that rely on traditional media or word of mouth will only hasten their demise. Ideally you can sell products or services online directly, but even if that isn’t a viable option (which will be the case for most services) you should have a website that creates brand recognition and allows people to find you through an online search. Social media is also available, but if you are inexperienced, you may be better served sticking to your website.
Don’t forget your existing customers. While this article promotes business expansion, it certainly shouldn’t come at the expense of your existing customers as happy customers make great advocates!
By Jennifer Lowe