Understanding why growth matters and what it looks like is one thing but how to get there is the most difficult question to answer for most SMEs. Unfortunately, there is unlikely to be many quick wins or easy answers if you are scaling a business.
Like most things in life, scaling a business takes time, consistency and resilience.
It is rarely easy and there are likely to be setbacks but if you are working in a small or medium sized business you truly believe in, it will be worth it. If you really want to see the benefit of the work you are doing try not to get caught up in the short-term results, instead focus on bigger picture goals and how day to day work is helping you get there.
Similar to developing your business plan when you started your business, create a written SME growth strategy containing SMART goals that you can measure progress against.
1. Utilise software: your small business may have started tracking customers and completing accounts manually, this becomes very unwieldy very quickly as you try to scale your SME. For example the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool tailored to SMEs will help you consolidate marketing, sales and service on one platform. The right software for your business will depend on the industry you are in but there are lots of options out there.
2. Build a sales funnel: one of the benefits of utilising a CRM is it will allow you to more easily build a sales funnel for your products or service. In order to do this successfully you must understand your core target markets, develop buyer personas and map out each stage of their journey to buying your product or using your service. This will help your SME create marketing and sales material to help your target audience find your business and move to the next stage of becoming a customer when they do.
3. Research competition: it is essential for your SMEs success to understand who you are competing against, locally and as you scale nationally. It is also worth further dividing competition into online and off-line particularly if you are operating a commodity for sale.
4. Identify opportunities: the customer analysis and competitor research may help you identify additional opportunities your business could provide. For example, if your business provides a service, could you also provide training in that service to others as an additional revenue stream?
5. Leverage platforms: if you are selling a commodity and find yourself competing against global players like Amazon or Ebay, consider joining Amazon’s FBA service to get your products in front of those searching for items on that platform.
6. International expansion: last but by no means least, consider expanding your SME internationally to access new markets. Would your product work as well in Asia, Europe or North America? Once you have a profitable business in your home country, it is something worth considering. Going global will require investment and risk but the potential for profit is significant.