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Growth Strategies

Three Ways to Grow a Business

Imagine this scenario: Sarah Lowe, the owner of Elite Marketing Strategies, Inc., was forced to close her business rather suddenly when her two biggest clients terminated their contracts. Just like that, she lost her livelihood and faced financial ruin.

In this protracted, poor economy this scenario is probably more common than anyone wants to think. Some small and non-employee businesses are particularly vulnerable to collapse because they do not have the resources to weather financial storms. These business owners might also be handling many (if not all) business functions. From clerical tasks to bookkeeping to sales and marketing to service delivery, the list of responsibilities can seem endless. With so many tasks to manage, it is easy to overlook some things or put them on the back burner.

Growing the business, however, should always be a priority. Listed below are three ways to grow a business.

  1. Diversify your business.

Diversification allows you to create multiple streams of revenue. If one slows down or dries up completely, other revenue streams could help the business stay afloat. Some ways to diversify include the following:

Enter new markets.

Concentrate on niche markets.

Businessdictionary.com describes a niche market as:

"…a small but specific and well defined segment of the population. Niches do not 'exist' but are 'created' by identifying needs, wants, and requirements that are being addressed poorly or not at all by other firms, and developing and delivering goods or services to satisfy them. As a strategy, niche marketing is aimed at being a big fish in a small pond instead of being a small fish in a big pond."

For example, a cosmetologist could open a beauty salon that serves cancer survivors. Given the harsh impact that cancer treatment has on hair, this population would benefit from specialized hair care. The cosmetologist could narrow the niche even further such as targeting only women or children.

  1. Become an expert.

Experts are highly regarded and sought after for their knowledge, experience, and problem solving abilities. This role can generate great publicity, create networking opportunities, and provide another source of revenue. Ways to become an expert are listed below.

Publish books and other materials.

Writing books that provide helpful information about topics important to your target market(s) can give you credibility, help you acquire new customers, and generate revenue.

You can also write articles, case studies, white papers, and other materials and publish them on your web site and other sites.

Teach courses or conduct workshops.

Teaching others has the following advantages: (a) helps you stay abreast of industry trends and innovations, (b) provides networking opportunities, and (c) allows you to promote your business.

Obtain speaking engagements.

Speaking at conferences, community forums, and other events provides opportunities to (a) generate publicity, (b) strengthen your reputation as an expert, and (c) promote your products and/or services to captive audiences.

  1. Create an online presence.

In today's technology-driven world, having an online presence is essential for connecting with your target market. A well-structured web site, for example, that caters to your target market's needs and provides valuable resources (such as how-to articles, trial offers, free products, and no-cost consultations) can help you attract new customers and retain existing ones. Social media like YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can also help you promote your business and build relationships with customers. It is important to understand how the social medium works and who it attracts. This will help you determine if it is a good fit for your business and provides access to your target market.

For the best results, online marketing activities should be well-organized so the business's brand is consistent across platforms and promotions are coordinated and consistent.

Owning a business is a challenging endeavor. Tax laws, government regulations, competition, business downturns, volatile economic conditions, and other uncontrollable factors can contribute to business instability. Generating more income will help you protect your business from inevitable difficulties and setbacks.

The first step is to choose the best growth strategy for your business. Factors to consider include the following:

Carefully weighing the pros and cons of each method and developing a well-structured plan will help ensure that your business expansion will be successful.


Businessdictionary.com. Niche Marketing. http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/niche-marketing.html

Mike Michalowicz, "Make Your Small Business Look Bigger Than it Really Is," American Express Open Forum, http://www.openforum.com/articles/make-your-small-business-look-bigger-than-it-really-is

SBA, "Ideas for Growing Your Business," http://www.sba.gov/content/ideas-growing-your-business

Wall Street Journal, PODCAST Insights for starting and running a small business. Tuesdays, http://online.wsj.com/public/page/news-small-business-marketing.html?refresh=on, (December 20, 2011)