Embrace Growth, No Matter How Demanding

With the Great Resignation in forward motion as 65% of Americans are looking for new jobs, I’m reminded of my job searching days and the sometimes dreaded “How’s the job search going?”

As a small business owner, it doesn’t matter if it’s a business event or a social event, people ask “How’s business?” It’s great to truthfully answer, “It’s great, we’re growing. Do you know anyone looking?”  

Sometimes, growing pains are evident as things slip through the cracks, maybe it takes an extra day to return a call, follow-up on a proposal, or even worse, deliver something late. 

It’s time to improve your resource situation. Whether that’s adding people to your team, hiring an outside vendor/agency/consultant, or outsourcing an area of your business (hello bookkeepers), letting go of some of your day-to-day responsibilities frees you up to work on other projects within your business, such as strategic growth initiatives. As a marketer, of course I’m biased and will tell you marketing is a key part of your growth plan.

Remember when you hired your first person that wasn’t family? There are many unknowns (or maybe that’s true of family too). You made it through that hurdle and now that you are ready for change, you may be asking, “How can marketing help my business grow?” Here are 10 marketing strategies to help your small business grow.

1.  Get back to basics. Know your why.

Remember when you started your company, you were on a mission. Your passion and excitement was backed by your expertise and determination. Simon Sinek talks about the importance of your why saying “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Why did you start your company? Has your mission or vision changed? People are interested in your why, whether they know you personally or not. Share your why. You may find you get reinvigorated yourself.

2.  Explore your core values.

You may have done a core values exercise when you first started. Have your core values changed since Day 1? It’s okay if they have, but it’s important to explore the core values you see in action today. Look around your company and catch your team in action as they bring core values to life. See how your customers react to your core values. Identify any ideal state core values, and develop a plan to bring those to life in your business.

3.  Focus on your Ideal Customers – there’s a reason I refer to them this way

Everyone is not your customer. Let’s say you were selling fresh air. There are people that need to be on oxygen tanks that may not care as much about fresh air. Look at your data, see who your customers are, and know which ones are profitable. The 80/20 rule is likely alive and well in your business. Focus your marketing to attract your ideal customers, the ones you enjoy working with, who also happen to be profitable. You don’t have to turn away customers if you don’t want to. If you are selling a house, how many hours does it take to sell a $400k home vs. a $1.4MM home? 

4.  Know Your Audience. 

Your audience is more than your customers and prospects, it’s important to create connections with vendors, suppliers, Board members, employees, and more. Each segment is looking for something different from your company. Understand their needs and deliver.

5.  Rely on others. 

It’s okay to ask for help. You may be a one-person shop, but you have fans, believers, happy customers, and more that spread the word about your business. If you have full-time or part-time employees, or if you outsource work, utilize these amazing resources. Hire for expertise and you may find insights that you can include in your marketing strategies and tactics. Consider your core values when hiring, yes, even for contractors, vendors, and partners. You’ll find longer relationships with people/companies that are aligned with your core values.

6.  Understand enough to be in control while you delegate.

Before you pass responsibilities to others, it’s important to understand the purpose, standards, measurements and outcomes of a task, project, or role. Communication is critical to stay informed on these areas of your business. For example, a bookkeeper and CPA may have monthly or quarterly reviews with their clients to share what’s happening in their clients’ financial statements, as well as any industry-related updates. Communication is important to your clients and prospects as well. Help them understand what your brand offers, and help them feel in control while they are on their customer journey.

7.  Establish Process. 

Having Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) defined is helpful to everyone involved. The person now responsible for an activity can document the process to keep everyone aligned. It doesn’t matter if this person is part of your internal team, or an external consultant/vendor. An established process provides an opportunity for expectations to be managed. While customer journeys may be different for everyone, established processes can play a big part in helping the customer experience be as smooth as possible. For example, e-commerce that not only has a confirmation page, but also a confirmation email. That’s an example of an automated process in action.

8.  Manage customer expectations. 

As you step away from the day-to-day, it can prove challenging, even if you didn’t like the tasks before. As a solopreneur, it’s key to remember you don’t have to do it solo. When it was just you, doing everything, you didn’t have to have meetings with yourself to update or discuss issues. Now that you can rely on others, expectations need to be set on both sides. Be sure to review goals, responsibilities, timing, decision making, and other details upfront so there are no surprises for either of you. The same goes for your customers. Expanding on our e-commerce example, kudos to companies that share fulfillment and shipping information with their customers, especially in today’s distribution challenges. Instead of customers wondering where their package is, they now have insight and their expectations are managed.

9.  Refocus your time and watch your energy refuel.

Once you have offloaded an activity or two, you’ll notice you have less on your plate which allows you to focus your time on strategic growth initiatives. You are still in touch with your customers and your team, but you can tackle those growth initiatives and see how marketing can help bring them to life.

10.  Get back to your expertise and do what you love doing.

When you are engaged in your business, people take notice. Remember #1: Know your why. You’ll be connected to your business and your purpose. Now that you have a team with intention, focused on your business growth, that has your back, you can get back to what you love doing and you will show up for your customers, focused and intentional on helping ease their challenges.

Small business owners are strong, invigorating, and truly the backbone of our communities and our economy. There are times when it’s overwhelming and it may seem easier to work for someone else. Those are the times you need to harness the opportunity for growth, get the right resources and team together, and get ready for an exciting ride. Keep marketing top of mind when you face growth. It’s the foundation of your business and a great guide for not only your customers, but also your partners, employees, vendors, and suppliers.

-Written by Alexis Rago, the co-Creator of the Work On Your Business Retreat, and the Big Kahuna at Marketing Mana LLC. Alexis enjoys life as an entrepreneur, while also managing the role of mom to two kids and one fur baby, as well as being a wife, daughter, friend, and volunteer.

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