When you’ve just started out in the big world of owning a business, it can seem almost impossible to imagine how you can grow your new business. You could be alone in your ventures, starting out in your garage, or staring at your bank balance wondering how the numbers will ever increase. However, in these moments you should remember that many of the big names we know today started out small, just like you.
Take Subway for example; an American fast food restaurant franchise, which began with Fred Deluca (founder) borrowing $1,000 in 1965 from a friend to open his business. Now, Subway have 45,000 stores across 100 countries. And then there’s the story of Apple’s humble beginnings; their very first computer was actually built in a small garage in California and now they’re one of the most well-known around today. This proves that if you have a great idea, and execute it in the right ways, your business has the potential to grow. But, as a micro business looking to expand, you need to consider carefully where to spend your hard-earned income. Here are some low-cost ways in which you can begin to develop your business.
1) Be creative on social media
If you are looking to get your name out there, social media is one of the ultimate ways to engage with your audience. With platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, you can showcase your products and services to reach a much wider audience. But, to really stand out from the crowd and catapult the increased recognition of your brand, you’ll need to be creative with how you engage with your audience on social media.
Back in May, 2015, Domino’s Pizza posted an update about how customers could now tweet to make a meal order. They encouraged their audience to request a delivery by tweeting a pizza emoji on their Dominos Twitter account or using the hashtag #EasyOrder. This was just one of the ways that Domino’s created a buzz to build brand awareness, as well as generating further revenue by making it as easy as possible for customers to order online via social media.
Be innovative with your social media projects and look to engage with you audience through more than just regular posts. You could consider holding competitions and promotional give-aways, live streaming, or 360-degree videos and using social media to book in events. Try something new and explore new ideas to get your brand noticed.
2) Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
With nearly 60% of searches now performed on a mobile device, the opportunity to engage with mobile searchers cannot be missed if you wish to expand your business. As so many of your customers will be looking for you via their mobile phones, you’ll need to ensure your website is mobile-friendly and that your pages perform well across this device. The Google Search Console allows you to conduct a mobile-friendly test on your website which provides useful insights into its performance and allows you to see how your users view your site on their mobile device.
For example, the site above is considered mobile-friendly, however it may have problems with ‘page loading’ as seen in the screenshot above. The common areas causing slow page load speed include large images, large CCS, or script files any or all of which may possibly be causing the page loading issues. When the resources on a page are not loading properly this can affect how Google sees and understands the page. Where Google cannot fully access or load a page, this can affect rankings and the user’s experience. So, make sure your website is mobile-friendly and also optimised for mobile use.
If you need your site to perform better on mobile devices, and you’re looking at mobile optimising the entire site, you could try an alternative to a business credit card to ease your cash flow to fulfil the project.
3) Utilise email marketing
Are you reaching out to your customers via email? A survey carried out on 1,000 web-based businesses revealed that email marketing achieved the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing channel. With your customers all carrying mobile phones, it’s never been easier to communicate your offers with your current and prospective customers through email.
4) Become a speaker
Volunteering to talk at a local or industry event can provide you with the opportunity to connect with other businesses and future customers. It is a fantastic way for others to become aware of the value of your service or product. You could even look to join your local Chamber of Commerce which supports local businesses and provides a platform for you to speak and connect with those in your community. You can then network and build further relationships.
5) Hold a pop-up store event in a nearby location
Worldwide, pop-ups have grown to $80 billion annually in sales. So if you’re looking for a fresh idea to build further brand awareness as well as revenue, a pop-up store could do exactly that. Pop-up stores are temporary small stores only open for short period of time. The costs and the commitment are less than a permanent store, but the exposure you receive for your brand could be great. You should ensure you choose a location not too far from your store so customers can come and visit you after the pop-up event has ended; it should also be somewhere where you are likely to attract the most people and, most importantly, your target audience.
A recent article in The Telegraph explains how two sisters, who own a web-based business selling clothes and jewellery, found great success from their pop-up store venture. In their first month of launching the temporary store they took home £2000 which they stated ‘’was surprising as we had just launched the brand and were relatively unknown’’.
6) Get your customers to complete a survey
Without knowing what you customers think of you, why they like you or don’t like you, you cannot improve your business effectively. And getting them to tell you is easy thanks to services like Google forms or SurveyMonkey: it won’t take hours, nor is it expensive to create and send out a survey. With the feedback you receive from your customers you can proactively make changes and improvements to your business.
7) Encourage online customers reviews
Communication is key to any success and this is also important across your customer base. In fact, 84% of customers trust online reviews as they would trust a family or friend’s recommendation. This tells us that by encouraging customers to review your service or product online it could lead to influencing a new customer to make a transaction or enquiry. Customers like to shop around to get the best quality and offer. Your online reviews can help accelerate the decision-making process of whether a customer should buy from you or a competitor. If your customer reads positive, helpful reviews of your service, in comparison to finding a competitor during their research with no available reviews, they are more likely to choose you and have the trust to go ahead and purchase from your business.