Many entrepreneurs struggle with how to start a small business. However, growing a small business is even harder than the actual startup phase.
Often times, small business owners don’t know where to begin in growing their product or service offering, expanding their customer base, and reaching new markets. This can be overwhelming without the right framework.
Here are five things you can do to ensure your business scales quickly from initial startup to a sustainable business with long-term potential:1. Find your “blue ocean.” The first step is to identify open segments of your target market to go after. This results in less competition and higher margins. For example, is there an opportunity to provide a higher quality or bundled product offering at a higher price than your competition? Or perhaps a niche specialty product not currently offered by others? There are a number of ways to create these “blue oceans” of little to no competition by reaching new customers.
2. Provide your customers with options. It’s rare that a single product or service will meet the needs of all of your customers, so it is important to provide various options. For example, auto companies typically have entry-level models for cost-sensitive buyers, with options all the way up to high-end alternatives with more features. This allows them to provide more alternatives, appeal to more customers, and offer customers the ability to move up to higher-end options over time.
3. Find the right balance between focus and breadth. While providing alternatives is good, it is also important to stay focused. You don’t want to limit options to reach more customers, but you also don’t want to provide so many options that your business loses sight of what it’s best at. This can be a difficult balancing act, so you will want to test different product mixes over time and stick with the ones that seem to resonate best with your customers.
4. Keep your business simple. It can be easy to keep adding new products and ways of doing business in your quest to secure more customers, so it’s important to also remain simple along the way. Everything from your internal processes to how you acquire and service customers should be as simple as possible. Most importantly, it should be very simple for customers to do business with you. Be sure to watch for unintended barriers to doing business with you.
5. Use the internet to sell your products or services. The proliferation of the internet and social media has provided a very effective and low-cost way to reach additional customers. Be sure to consider all your alternatives, such as your web-site, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. You probably won’t have the resources to pursue all of these different channels on the internet early on, so you’ll want to focus on just a handful that will best reach your potential customers at the lowest cost.
These are just a few ways to convert a small business idea into a scalable and sustainable business. We teach our students the steps to do this in more detail. Click here to learn more about our small business training programs and to see if it might help you start and grows a successful small business.