How do you find or create the time to grow and develop your business when you have reached the limits of your capacity?
If you have been in business for a while, you can learn from this experience. Every business has peaks and troughs in terms of how busy they are. For example, your business may be quieter during the summer months or if you run a retail business, sales may typically dip in February (after the traditional January sales). It can be during these quieter periods, when you are afforded a little breathing space. This is the time to consider some ways in which you can grow your business.
Here are my top tips for doing just that:
Remember it is always easier to gain sales from these, than it is to attract new ones. The answer here is to look after them. After all, on average it costs 10 times more money to generate new customers than it does to retain existing ones. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Send an email (or write a letter!) to existing clients to say that you have had a contract postpone and ask if they have any new work that you can take on
- Contact your customers to let them know about a new product/service
- Plan a promotion to run during this time and make sure you include this on your social media platforms
- Send out a newsletter with a quick update on anything new in your business
- Send out an exclusive discount offer to your most loyal customers for use during this down time
Research New Customers
No matter how busy you are, you need to prioritise the importance of finding new customers. There are several ways you can do this:
- Attend business networking meetings. I know what you’re thinking; you don’t have time to go to lots of meetings, drink coffee for no result. However, many of these are held early morning or evening, leaving your working day free. You might have to attend a few of these to discover which ones are potentially fruitful
- Referrals. Are any of your most loyal and trusted clients in a position to refer any other business that could potentially benefit from you? Would they be willing to introduce them to you?
- Look at your business sector’s trade journals and publications, local newspapers and social media with a view promoting your product, service or business
The key point here is that unless people know about you, they cannot buy from you. So, set aside some of your valuable time for making contact with potentially new customers.
Hopefully, because you’ve been so busy, business has been good. In which case, you may have set aside some funds or built up a modest cash reserve. Now might be the time to invest in your business with the aim of being able to work smarter (not just harder) while being more effective at the same time.
Do you need to buy that new computer that you’ve been putting off for ages? Could your website and/or promotional literature do with a revamp? Do your retail premises need sprucing up?
By investing in this way, your business could become leaner, meaner, fitter, stronger and ultimately more effective. You will create more time for you to work on the business rather than just in it.
Develop Your Staff
If you have any staff, how are you able to develop them while at the same time relieving some of your burden? This is all to do with delegating (not abdicating!) certain responsibilities to them, so that you can focus your time and energy on what you do best. This is a win-win situation. They will feel that they are gaining further career development (particularly if there is the additional incentive of some training and development qualification involved) and you will feel that you can concentrate on more of your priorities.
The prices of your product or service are coming under pressure because your competitors are lowering theirs. Remember, customers rarely buy on price alone. They buy i) emotionally i.e. how something makes them feel and ii) rationally.
- When was the last time you increased your prices?
- How often do you check the market rate?
- How can you add value?
- Can you specialise?
- Can you improve service?
- Can you create customer loyalty?
Increasing your prices, or profit margin, will help to alleviate the additional pressure of running your business. This in turn will give you the time, space and energy to grow and develop your business in previously unknown ways.