Growing And Nurturing Your Bussiness

One of the first things that you are made aware of when you start a business is just how many of them fail in the first two years. Whilst the failure rate may be high, rather than seeing this as the sword of Damocles waiting to put an end to your dreams, use this knowledge to ensure that you are forewarned of potential business traps.

All businesses experience times when they are struggling, particularly during economic downturns. The ones that make it through and go on to grow are the ones that are able to adapt to trading situation as they change.

To not only survive in business but also grow, your business boils down to three simple things. (i) Knowing how to increase the number of customers you have; (ii) knowing how to increase how many units of your product or service you sell and (iii) lastly, knowing how to increase how often your customers buy your products.

Keeping and Increasing your customer base

Attracting and keeping customers is a business’s life blood. Without customers there are no sales and if there are no sales you don’t have a viable business. One of the first lessons to learn is that customers are interested in meeting their needs and will always have an eye out for a better deal. Therefore it is  important that your small, friendly business appeal to them, and live up to their expectations.

You will also need to set yourself apart from other businesses in your niche by developing your USP (unique selling points) and put in place strategies and systems that allow you to grow. You keep existing customers buy building strong relationships with them. This means finding out what they think of your products and services and positioning your company so that you are regarded by your customers as trustworthy, approachable and on their side. When customers know like and trust you they will naturally talk about you to their friends. Customers who are raving fans of your service and priceless in terms of the free promotion and advertising they provide..

Increasing the number of customers you have means reaching new customers. In order to do this you may have to create new products and services that are of interest to a wider market. Things to consider are:

  1. Who has a real need for what you are offering to the market. If you create a great product and no one wants or needs it you will not be able to sell it. Business occurs when you are able to bring something of value to market and the market exchanges that value through the medium of money. A good question to ask is does my product or service either saves money or provides additional value?
  2. It is also vital to know how much, if anything, people are currently spending to meet the need that your product or service address. With whom and are they satisfied. This will help you identify any gaps in the market that you could sell into.
  3. Finally you should know many potential, new customers there are, whether this figure is growing or declining and critically how can they be reached?

The best way to get comprehensive answers to these questions is to carry out proper market research. Although it might be tempting to skip this stage because it seems time consuming, no serious entrepreneur would bypass this step. Market research give the entrepreneur a great deal of information about what they will need to know in order to reach new customers, i.e. what to say, how to say it and to whom.

Increase how often your customers buy your products

If you can make it easy and simple for your customers to do business with you over and over again, it follows that will buy form you more often. In essence this is what a loyalty programme is. Customers are rewarded for repeat purchases and they are incentivised to buy again and again by being offered additional value.

For example supermarkets who offer petrol price discounts if you purchase shopping to a certain values. Shoppers are encouraged to spend more in order to qualify for the additional value and the petrol station to redeem the discount is also owned by the supermarket.

Loyalty programmes also have the physiological effect of making customers feel like they belong and therefore experience feeling of loyalty to the group or in this case you as the service provider. Other ways of creating a feel of belonging and loyalty are:

  • Making sure that your responsiveness to customer requests, calls, emails etc meet their expectations and are as good if not far superior to other businesses in your niche
  • Providing easy access to person who is your customers’ primary contact. This may mean that you have to provide a voice at the end of a phone line –just think how frustration you have found it when you have a problem and the only means of contact is via email
  • Making sure that the standard of your goods or services of good quality is consistently high.

While these may seem customer loyalty 101 to some, these things are often overlooked. How many businesses have you given a wide birth because they got these things wrong and therefore were too difficult to do business with. By keeping your attention on these details you can prevent yourself from becoming a business like this to your customers.

Increase how many units of your product or service you sell

The knock on effect of increasing the number of units sold is increasing the number of clients and frequency of purchase. However you can also increase the number of units sold by understanding how to add value to your product/service. If you want to sell more products or bill more hours, providing a value-add benefit or solution will begin to strengthen your customer relationship. If you are to consistently add-value to the customer relationship, you need to fully understand how your customers interpret, define, and quantify the value they receive from your products and services.

Finally, remember, to see real results, you must start with what you already know about your customers. Market research and the customer knowledge you already have, is literally a hidden goldmine that can grow your business and increase your company’s top line.

 

About Ola Agbaimoni

Known as "The Business Detective" due to her "Sherlock Holmes" like problem solving abilities, Ola works in partnership with her sister Carole Pyke, The Business Bard. Together they run Eélan Media, a new type of Business growth agency offering a forensic approach to business and a creative approach to marketing. As well as being an expert in business planning, training and development, Ola is also a certified coach, NLP practitioner; an accomplished author, speaker and presenter.

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