So, You Want to Grow Your Business: 3 Things to Do That Your Competitors Don’t

Written by Talk Local Co-Founder, Manpreet Singh

So, You Want to Grow Your Business: 3 Things to Do That Your Competitors Don't - Small Business Advice

You didn’t do a web search of business growth, lead generation, digital marketing, or a related business concepts for your health. If you were simply bored, you’d play Words with Friends, Farmville, or Solitaire. The reason you’re here and not anywhere else on the web is because you or your employees have too much time on your extremely capable hands to sit resting on your laurels; you want to grow your business. You already know that. But what you don’t know is that, according to a new survey by Yodle, very few of your competitors share your ambition.

“Most small businesses have little desire to grow big,” Yodel’s Louis Gagnon told SMI’s Greg Sterling.

The startling assessment is based on findings from the first annual SMB Sentiment Survey published in late August. The study, which surveyed 306 American small businesses, found that 91% of small business owners are happy with their choice to own a business. And, despite concerns about reaching new customers (42%), retaining customers (33%), and affording benefits for self and employees (39%), nearly 1 in 4 (23%) of SMBs invest not a single dime in monthly marketing expenses.

Most also…

> Do NOT have a website (52%)

> Do NOT have a mobile site (90%)

> Do NOT track where their leads come from (56%)

> Do NOT work more than 40 hrs weekly (52%)

> Do NOT adequately recognize the benefits of marketing beyond word of mouth (78%)

So, unlike you, your competitors lack the ambition to maximize their professional potential. Of course, it’s not just what you want, but what you do that makes the difference.  So, here are 3 winning plays for exploiting your competitive edge.

Set measurable, achievable goals and stay motivated:

Great entrepreneurs don’t just work for themselves, they work for their goals. And, inadequate goal-setting can lead to a false sense of satisfaction, which stagnates ambition. For example, SMBs surveyed reported a desire to retain customers and get more, or, in other words, to grow.

Unfortunately, without a marketing strategy, such a desire is squarely beyond their locus of control. Yet, they’re still happy. Could it be because their goals are so low or ill-defined that they usually get by on luck alone?

The downside of setting substantive and measurable goals is the risk of falling short, facing disappointment, and being unhappy at times. But, the plus side is that accomplishing those goals leads to real success, not a false sense of satisfaction.

If you want to grow, research how much you get in repeat customers, how many new customers you get, and from where. Then, set realistic short-term and long-term goals and strategies for reaching them. Otherwise, not only will growth be something you always want but never have, it will be something you’ll become content to do without.

Invest in what matters:

Setting a measurable, achievable goal is only setting yourself up for failure if you don’t also make sound investments toward reaching it. Even if you are one of the 78% of business owners who are still convinced that word of mouth is the most effective (not just the cheapest) way of getting business, then there are ways of taking charge of even that.

Incentivize customer and business referrals through a rewards program. Further, since high customer turnover rates make growth as difficult as climbing a downward escalator, set up a loyalty program and/or engage loyal customers through social media to keep your brand front-of-mind.

Don’t just be concerned about reaching your goals. Be committed to reaching them through concerted efforts. Once you’ve set goals, it’s critical that you also take control of your destiny and make it a matter of strategy.

Invest time to optimize results:

Your competitors are not just failing to invest monetarily. It’s clear that they don’t even deem growth worth their time. But, a growth business strategy is no set-it-and-forget-it proposition. As your business, circumstances, and outcomes change, so must your strategy.

The 40-working-hours-or-less crowd probably isn’t researching customer feedback, studying return on investment, and discovering new best practices for connecting with customers online. They’re wasting money on failing services they barely recall purchasing, and canceling their best revenue drivers because they haven’t collected enough data to recognize their value.

Developing the best strategy is a matter of time. And, if you invest that little extra time, you’d be surprised how much further your dollars can stretch and how much more they’ll get you.

So, whether you’re researching additional ways to gain a competitive edge, or you’re choosing to take yourself and your business seriously for the first time, you’re in very exclusive company. Your competitors aren’t very competitive. They aren’t in the game. The race is yours to lose. And, you can only lose by giving up.

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