Three practical tips to grow your business

A lack of growth can be one of the most frustrating issues small and medium business (SMB) owners will face. While the start-up phase of a business is often full of exciting progress, many SMB owners find it difficult taking their business to the next level when this early growth starts to plateau.

Through our partnership with AusIndustry to deliver the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme, we have worked with over 1500 SMBs since 2015 via a network of skilled business advisors and facilitators operating around the country.

Below are some insights and tips on how to take your business to the next level when growth starts to slow down.

1. Update your technology

 

We all know how quickly technology changes, and can potentially impact or disrupt the way we work. All SMBs that use some form of technology should regularly test, assess and measure the extent that their software and technology supports their business. When looking for growth, it might even be time to change technology platforms altogether.

Growth vs. tech capabilities. Does your current technology align to your growth aspirations? SMBs need to be prepared for tomorrow, not just today. Business owners should ensure their IT infrastructure and digital capabilities are able to underpin future growth aspirations. You should always keep one eye on the road – what’s on the horizon in terms of my business, industry and market?

Price matters. Not all technology needs to be expensive. There are many financially accessible options in the market for businesses of all sizes. This might mean you use a new system or platform that’s “off the shelf” as opposed to applying expensive changes or adjustments. Outsourcing technology services is another way businesses can cut costs. There are many local or international providers that can quickly and efficiently deliver your IT needs, freeing up your time to focus on building your business and working with your clients.

 

2. ‘Corporate’ Social Responsibility

Don’t let the word corporate fool you – CSR is not a practice reserved for multinational corporations. In such an ethically conscious society, demonstrating positive CSR can be a powerful stepping stone to take your small business up a notch.

Customers nowadays care about where their money is going, and business motivations and ethics. The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey highlighted that people – and in particular millennials – are starting to lose faith in business. Many young workers are eager for businesses to be proactive about making a positive impact on society – and be responsive to staff and community needs. This growing sentiment highlights the importance of all businesses – regardless of size – to demonstrate positive CSR across all that they do.

Not only can CSR lead to more sales (at a higher price), it is also a fantastic way to build trust – customers will feel a strong emotional connection to your business if they know you’re doing your bit for society.

Size doesn’t matter. No one is expecting you to change the world – little efforts can make a huge difference. One idea is to make a small donation to a charity of choice. No matter the size of the donation, supporting a cause will reap significant benefits for the reputation of your business.

Don’t expect an immediate ROI. Many SMBs are scared off by CSR as it does not provide an immediate, tangible return on investment. Don’t fall into this trap – greater levels of trust, stronger customer relationships and an enhanced reputation over the long term will provide far greater growth than a quick cash injection.

3. Be careful what you wish for

Growth is the goal, but too much too fast can spell disaster for small businesses. Don’t be tempted by the short term ‘sugar hit’ that can come from taking on as many new projects as possible. While doing this may lead to sky high short term growth, it is often unsustainable.

The key here is to stick to your guns and not lose sight of what you’re good at. Focus on your original product or service offering to ensure it continuously improves – this gradual growth will give your business the best chance of being a market leader over the long term. Concentrating instead on rapid expansion in the short term will likely lead to a situation where your business is merely mediocre at a lot of different things.


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