According to the latest ONS figures, 24% of businesses, that are currently trading, reported that their turnover had decreased between May and June 2022. Only 13% reported that it had increased.
Owning and running a small business is a dream for many. Getting up and running is hard work that requires grit and determination. However, once it is up and running, many owners wonder how to grow and develop it further.
By following these tips, you can help grow your business and see it thrive into the future.
Engage with Old and Attract New CustomersMany businesses have lists of old customers and contacts that they are no longer in contact with. These leads are immensely valuable, as you have already done the difficult part of getting them to engage with your brand. Google Ads has a great feature that allows you to deliver targeted ads to people and companies that have previously visited your site.
Alternatively, the more traditional methods of email campaigns and social media are effective ways to allow you to re-establish connections with old contacts.
If you are looking to grow your business, one of the most effective (and intuitively obvious) ways to do so is by attracting new customers. Here are some tips on how to do that:
1. Make sure your products or services are easy to find online. If they aren't, you could be losing out on potential customers who might never find their way back to your website.
2. Ensure your website is reliable, fast, and mobile-friendly. This way it will be easy to navigate the website for any potential customers, ensuring they have a much more positive experience with your company.
3. Use social media sites to build relationships with potential customers before they become actual buyers who purchase from you regularly. This will help you create trust with them over time as they get to know who you are and what makes you worth doing business with in the first place.
4. Developing new products or services and open up new markets and growth opportunities, and you can use your existing customer base to trial them to make them easier to then sell into new markets.
5. Don’t overlook potential new customers – for example, the government is committed to procuring a significant percentage of its products and services from small businesses.
Retain Existing CustomersIt is easier to keep a customer than to find a new one. And it's cheaper.
When you think about it, that makes sense: the more you do business with someone, the better you know them, and the greater your chances are for providing exactly what they want at a competitive price. The opposite is true as well — if you don't know your customers as well as you should, you are more likely to lose them.
SMEs need to understand how important it is to retain their existing customers and how much money it can save them in the long run. Here are some key reasons why:
• You have existing relationships with customers — both personal and professional — which make it easier to grow new business together.
• It costs more money (and time) to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one happy and coming back for more.
• Your existing customers will be more willing to refer others to you if they had a positive experience doing business with you in the past.
There are several ways to ensure this, whether by offering loyalty bonuses to long-time customers, or offering great service with your products to ensure your customers have a great experience.
Connect with Other BusinessesIf you own a small or medium sized enterprise, working with trusted third parties can help you grow and expand. Working with third party partners can open up doors to bigger markets, provide new opportunities, supply more skills and resources, as well as enhance and build upon your existing business model. Asking the right questions and making sure you find the right partner is crucial if you want to lead your company into the future.
There are a number of ways in which SMEs can connect with other businesses online, like our B2B Members’ Community. One of the most popular is through networking events. These can be formal or informal and are often hosted by local chambers of commerce, business associations and networking groups. Alternatively, small businesses can choose to host them as well. Events like these provide an opportunity for business owners to get out and meet new people, expand their networks, share experiences and learn from each other.
For further information about the benefits of business collaboration see our page about why collaborating can be good for your business health.
Securing Access to Additional FinanceIf you are a SME, securing access to finance is one of the biggest challenges you will face. Not only can it be difficult to obtain funding, but it can also be tricky to find the right product at the right price. According to the Small Business Finance Markets 2021/22 report (available at https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/research/small-business-finance-markets-report-2022/), only 37% of small businesses would be willing to use external finance to grow.
There are many different types of finance so, before making any decisions about what type and how much, you should make a forecast to decide how much you may need. This is vital as lenders will need to see a clear plan for how the funds will be used and to assess how likely they are to be repaid. Make sure that any repayments are covered adequately – falling behind in your debt repayment schedule is immensely stressful and potentially damaging to your business.
But why is securing finance important?
In short, it helps you grow your business and stay competitive in a rapidly changing market. Without additional funding, you may be unable to make sales or invest in new technology that will help your business thrive. This could mean missing out on new opportunities and losing sales to competitors who do have access to funds.