You’ve taken the plunge, turned your business dream into a reality and navigated the bumpy road of starting-up – so, what’s next?
Just as money doesn’t grow on trees, businesses don’t grow themselves. Britain has produced an impressive number of start-ups with a record figure of 657,790 new businesses set up last year, however growth appears to be more of a challenge with fewer than 4 per cent of UK start-ups having 10 or more employees after their first decade.
Here are Businesscomparison.com’s top hacks to grow your business:
Focus on the customer
Treat your customers as your most prized asset. It is crucial that, through excellent customer service and reliability, you become their essential business or supplier. When looking at making changes to improve your business try viewing these alterations from your customer’s perspective. Nurture your relationships and consult clients on what services or products they’d like to be offered. Communication is a key factor so use every opportunity to create open dialogue with your customers and ensure your staff do the same!
Manage your finances
Lack of cash flow is a major cause of failure for small businesses with four in ten failing to make it to the five-year mark. Staying on top of cash flow is a major challenge and one which should be central to any businesses growth plans. Always work to a budget and factor in growth costs for new staff, equipment, premises or marketing. Over half of SMEs in the UK are owed a totalled estimate of £44.5 billion due to late payments from clients. Consider alternative finance options such as invoice financing which can provide a valuable short-term funding opportunity for businesses looking to improve their cash flow and, in many cases, expand their client base and grow their business. Anticipate the lean periods and make plans to deal with them.
Stand out from the crowd
It’s highly unlikely that you’re the only business offering a specific service or product so you need to find a way of standing out from the crowd. If not, you will be judged by potential clients on price alone. Think about the additional services you can offer to run alongside what you already provide. If you are bigger, provide better quality, are more reliable or offer exceptional customer service you will be front of mind for returning and new customers. Winning industry awards can be a good way of gaining press coverage and signalling to customers that you are at the top of your game.
No one goes into business expecting to fail but there will almost certainly be low points throughout the start-up and growth period. Expect to take knocks along the way, whether that be the loss of a client, valued staff moving on or negative feedback. These need only be permanent set-backs if you let them so learn from failure and move on.
Laura Thomas is Head of Finance at Businesscomparison.com the UK’s largest commercial comparison site. The website helps new and existing small businesses compare deals when looking for a bank account, an energy supplier or finance solutions.