Growing Your Business

When you started your business, you weren’t dreaming of a plateau. Your vision was always for something that would grow in influence, success and profit. But growth is difficult, and running a small business takes far more than willpower and hard work. If you’re frustrated by slow growth or even a lack of growth, here are some things to remember.

Service matters.

Whether you’re making coffee, software or suspension bridges, doing it with great service is critical. When you think about some of the most successful and beloved brands, great customer service is virtually a constant. It’s incredibly difficult to grow despite poor service.

Let demand dictate expansion.

The itch to expand often plagues the small business owner. For example, if you have one location, you’re sure that a second would boost sales. But you should develop your business growth plan carefully, and only expand when it’s necessary to meet a growing demand for your products or services.

Form an alliance.

It may seem counterintuitive to be helpful to other businesses, but a strategic alliance can be beneficial for both parties and for customers. Think about the businesses that have customers who overlap with yours but who don’t directly compete with you. Then, find a way to form a symbiotic relationship.

Be a specialist, not a generalist.

Think about your favorite restaurant. Do you love it because of its expansive menu that crosses culinary borders? No. You love it because they do a particular thing incredibly well. Avoid being a jack-of-all-trades in your business. Find what you can do with a level of expertise and stick with it.

Are you made to manage?

The Peter Principle is a well-documented phenomenon in which someone is promoted beyond his or her usefulness. You probably didn’t start your business with the intention of being a manager — you started it because of a particular skill, knowledge or passion. If you’re not wired for management, you may need to do extra work to build those skills or even hire someone to make that critical contribution to your business.

Don’t feel frustrated by stories of businesses that experience a meteoric rise. Those are the outliers. Slow and steady wins the race, so be patient, keep working and growing and improving as a businessperson. Growth for your business is sure to follow.

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