Whether you’re a sole trader or a sprawling international company, there’s a strong possibility ‘business growth’ is on the to-do list, or, at the very least, on the ‘to think about’ list.
But, when you sit down to start your business growth mind-map where should you start?
I’m going suggest the first word onto that blank page should be ‘tech’ – and I’d like to explain to you how certain types of tech could create the conditions you need for exponential growth…
You’d probably be surprised to find out how many businesses operate with a basic spreadsheet as their sole means of keeping track of their potential and current customers.
If this is the case for you, there’s a strong possibility that you don’t have a process in place to make sure those customers are being contacted and supported as they should be – and it’s almost guaranteed that you’re not maximising your opportunities with new customers.
Increasing your conversion rates is an amazing way to grow your business without the need for additional staff – as essentially, you’re doing the same amount of work but for a greater reward. However, to do so you’ll almost certainly need some kind of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
A CRM system takes the least organised sales or support person and makes them the most efficient – by scheduling calls, mapping out processes, recording communications and much more. Have a look at systems like SalesForce, ZoHo to give you an idea of what’s possible and how you could grow with minimal additional resources.
If you’re running a business in 2018 you’re highly likely to already be using some element of cloud computing – even if that’s the most basic functions; usually software subscriptions, email provision or remotely accessing files.
While these basics are useful – there’s a world of more in-depth cloud-based possibilities that could accelerate your business growth.
Imagine being able to place a member of your staff team with a client at a moment’s notice – but still keeping them as a fully functional part of your IT network. Or better still, being agile enough to set up a new office or temporary workplace anywhere in the world – with just days notice.
Not ready to expand your physical operations yet? No problem, with virtual, cloud-based working space the next staff member you hire could be on the other side of the planet – but with full access to all your systems.
Where expanding your Wider Area Network (WAN) to harness this growth was once time consuming and expensive, a new generation of Software Defined WAN (SD WAN) solutions are making growing your business with cloud computing more accessible than ever before.
Find international talent
If bringing highly skilled staff on board could be the factor your business growth plans need to gain traction, then the job market is shaping up in your favour.
When you think ‘freelancer’ you might be thinking of writers, designers and other creative types who ply their trade from their local coffee shop – but actually, this image of the freelancer is something that needs to be left right back in 2014.
While creative staff are still available, so now are high end consultants, accountants and other accredited professionals from a huge range of industries. Need to delivery cutting edge training that you can only source from the other side of the Atlantic? No problem. Want to put together a marketing think-tank with some of the best professionals available? Again, no problem.
Whether you want to find the seeds of growth, or the team who’ll implement your plans, you now have the ability to source these people from any part of the world – and video calling, file sharing, project management tools and much more can be synchronised just as easily as if the person was at the desk next to yours.
Harness social media
If you’re still of the mindset that social media is the preserve of youngsters then you’re missing an exceptionally large piece of the marketing pie – and thus, a large piece of the monetary growth pie.
It’s estimated that around 2.75 billion people use social media frequently, that’s more than 1/3rd of the world’s population that could be at the receiving end of your marketing material.
Now, even with big growth plans, you probably don’t need those audience numbers! However, it’s a massive figure that hopefully illustrates the sheer variety of people who are using the various platforms that are out there.
It’s important that we get a feel for the landscape that social media has created: There are brands which now have massive international footholds that have done so exclusively through Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and the likes – and here’s the thing; you can do it too.
You may or may not have the skills to do it in-house, but with the right strategies and content, your brand, however modest, could have an international following in a very short space of time. Sound like it could inspire the growth you need? Why not embrace the last tip and reach out to find someone who could take you into the stratosphere?
While some of the solutions we’ve talked about here represent a reduced cost versus their previous, no tech-enabled counterparts, that’s not to say they can be done with no money in the bank.
So, why not use tech to your advantage again, by finding methods to raise capital online?
In the last few years, crowding funding finance platforms have gone from strength to strength, with around £2 billion being raised through the mainstream services since 2008.
Now clearly, you’ve got to have an attractive proposal or product to secure funding from any source – but crowdfunding also offers a variety of other benefits too, not least the fact that you’re floating your proposal before tens of thousands of potential customers – so your market research phase can be bolstered too.
What’s more, crowd funding doesn’t require that you offer equity as part of the investment deal – so the money that your growth will secure is kept in house – with cost services or products exchanged for investment.