As we draw to the end of Q1, now is a good time to take on a longer-term view of what you want to accomplish with your business, if you haven't done so already. Not everyone is at the same stage in their growth plans nor will they have the same approach. But I still regularly advise some overriding tactics that are designed to help any business.
Here are six suggestions that you can implement.
1. Delight the user.
No matter where you are in the development process for your product or service, consider making a list of the ways that it could excite and delight the end user. This can work for B2B and B2C companies. Doing so can help you win customers and turn them into ambassadors who may go to work talking about what you offer and convincing others to buy it.
To create this list, find out directly from your prospects about what they most desire in a brand experience from within your industry or niche. Many social media platforms offer tools that allow you to conduct polls and surveys that include geolocations and specific parameters related to the type of audience member that may value what you are creating. You can learn more about what they really want and what gets them excited.
This feedback can also help direct your marketing efforts as well as direct the developments in your product or service.
2. Surround yourself with talent.
Talent is the engine for growth—it's the people who work on developing and innovating what you are creating for your audience. They create the engaging marketing campaigns and face the customer to provide the best experience possible. And it helps to seek out this talent even if you are just starting out.
You can go straight to freelance developers and content writers who are willing to work on projects and are eager to grow with you. Since freelancers have other clients, you can tap their talent as your budget allows and begin to offer them more as you expand.
When you work with freelancers, it helps to treat them like an employee. You can do this by including them and letting them know where the company is headed. Also, consider having them provide ideas that may help with growth efforts.
You can find freelancers online through freelance marketplaces or even within your own network of business owners who are willing to share their talented team.
3. Stay focused on cash flow.
Often, I see business owners pay attention to how much they grow, but forget to continually watch their outgoing expenses and overall cash flow.
It's critical to look at every expense and see what's really necessary. Consider using tools that help remind those who haven't paid you that it's time. This way, your cash flow can remain steady so you can add new team members or make the other necessary investments that enable the growth you seek.
You can also use apps and tools that provide a simple, straightforward way to handle accounting and bookkeeping needs, like Sage or Quickbooks. Even if you don't have accounting knowledge, these platforms will walk you through handling these tasks, automate processes and provide a cloud-based system so you can check in on cash flow from any device anywhere in the world.
4. Seek guidance.
Every day, I see the benefits of business owners reaching out for external opinions.
Mentors, advisers and fellow entrepreneurs are often able to see what you may not because you have been too engrossed in what you're doing. These external opinions can point to new directions that a manager may not have seen. Or they may help to overcome a specific fear that has stopped forward movement within the business.
You can create relationships with fellow business owners and mentors in networking groups and organizations. Advisers can be found through marketplaces, online advisory services and through recommendations from within your network.
5. Invest in low-cost, innovative marketing tactics.
There are still business owners out there who believe they have to spend a lot on marketing. In actuality, some of the most effective online marketing methods are free, including Facebook Live and Instagram Stories.
These channels incorporate video and provide an outlet to showcase what you offer in a way your audience prefers to get their content. Additionally, you can seek out brand ambassadors who are willing to spread the word because they believe in what you are doing.
You can also find ways to recycle old content into other types of newer content to get additional value. For example, take a group of blog posts and package them into a white paper or research report. Use data that you have accumulated to report new findings in your industry and share across channels. What you save on marketing can be reinvested in other areas while the more innovative marketing tactics can help attract more customers.
6. Pay more attention to SEO.
While it may seem less important because it has been around for so long, it helps to focus on search engine optimization (SEO) and expand your strategy to include things like hashtags and keywords for visuals, subtitles and video file names. These tweaks can help propel your brand farther up the search chain. It's primarily a job that requires time and focus, rather than cost, so your sweat equity may end up delivering for you.
You can go online and seek out SEO tutorials that provide new tips and approaches to help accelerate your SEO strategy in 2018.
The year is well underway and time is speeding along. Don't let the year get away from you without thinking about your company's plans for growth. Each of these strategies is low-cost and results-oriented, and could change the game for your company.
Peter Daisyme is a special adviser to Calendar, a technology solution that helps business owners and teams improve their time management and productivity. He is also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).
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