It’s the dream scenario: grow your business without having to pour more money in. But is this ever possible?
The short answer is yes – but only by ensuring that every aspect of your organisation is geared towards promoting and supporting expansion. We take a look at seven measures that can help you achieve this:
1. Hiring a skilled and diverse workforce
Effective people are the key to any successful business, so it’s vital that you have a clear view of everyone’s role and skill set. Before you go to the expense of recruiting new people, assess your needs and look in-house first. Dedicated HR software can help you do this via detailed list functions that outline positions, as well as previous experience/recent training. You may be able to cut costs by engaging specialist freelancers for some projects, too. Whenever you are recruiting, keep your long-term goals in mind and look to secure people willing and able to step in to help you achieve these goals.
2. Opting for the cloud
Running your business from the cloud offers flexibility and cost efficiencies. With software, access and secure storage all available as and when required, this is an excellent option for companies who want the ability to scale without the burden of having to commit to costly new hardware or software. Running a cloud-based infrastructure will also help reduce your employees’ reliance on office-based systems and provide opportunities for working on the go.
3. Using the right business management software
Software is key to growth because it offers you an all-encompassing view of your business – from the financials and stock levels to customer behaviour. Opting for Software as a Service (SaaS) ensures you have the right tools in place without incurring the usual expense. Make sure that any software you use can scale with you and is operating at optimum efficiency by automating as many processes as you can – introduce automatic billing, for example, and regular reporting. Review your use of software solutions such as your accounting, Payroll or Customer Relationship Management software to ensure that your business is getting the most from it. You can assess your business with a few simple questions to see how you could become more efficient.
4. Boosting cashflow
It’s the bane of businesses both big and small – the world over. Keeping the cash flowing is vital to the wellbeing of any business, but when you’re looking to scale it’s also a potential resource that will save you having to apply for additional funds elsewhere.
Maximising your reporting functions will give you a clear picture of the financials – highlighting any late invoicing or late payers, as well as identifying where resources are being tied up in stock management. Cashflow-boosting measures to consider include early bird discounts for customers who pay invoices before the due date. The right business software solution can bring everything together, your accounts, better cash flow and easier ways of working.
5. Good planning
Left unchecked, growth can easily have a detrimental effect on a business – with your current infrastructure simply unable to meet this new demand. This could put you in the very risky position of disappointing existing customers in favour of the new. It’s vital then that any expansion is recognised and carefully monitored – this is no time for a ‘let’s see where it takes us’ mentality. Update your business plan to ensure that you have a good grasp of the effect a booming product could have and account for it. Understand where you want to be in the long term and put together a decisive roadmap to get you there. This includes a regular review of market trends to highlight the relevant opportunities for your business.
6. Talking with customers
Your customers are in a unique position to be able to give you the feedback needed to grow your business – so make sure you continue the conversation with them. Build ‘touch points’ into your marketing and online presence and make giving feedback quick and easy for them. This kind of conversation will not only provide you with some crucial pointers on how well you’re doing, but boost their confidence in your commitment to them and encourage referrals. Consider putting together a referral email/testimonial that satisfied customers are able to pass on with very little effort. Don’t make it a one-way street either: wherever appropriate, refer your own customers – it will strengthen the relationship. Attend our free webinar to get some top tips.
7. Getting online
Chances are you’ve already got the website and mobile technology in place, but are you harnessing it to full effect? Done properly, content management is an excellent way of updating customers about products and reaching out to new ones. Explore what could work for your business and devise an appropriate strategy. This could include having a regular ‘surgery’ for customers to post questions to your company experts, as well as product alerts and targeted discounts. Embrace the negative whenever necessary and use it as a way of repairing relationships and impressing upon potential customers that you will listen. Whatever platforms you go with, make sure you jump in with both feet. If there’s one thing web users are able to sniff out in the space of a page impression, it’s a half-hearted post.
If you’re looking to grow, avoid growing pains by getting the right solution in place to allow you to prepare for growth and scale up. We have a range of solutions designed for that next step.
Victoria Ferrer, Marketing Manager at Sage UKI
Victoria Ferrer manages campaign activity in the Customer for Life marketing team for Sage UK and Ireland’s small to medium size business segment.