Women In Business

The essential guide to growing a small business

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If you’re a small business owner or have entrepreneurial aspirations, you’ve already thought about ways to grow your business. Growth requires investment; understanding and accepting that you have to spend more (time, energy, money) to make more is the first step to seeing real growth. If you’ve already covered your financial bases and are ready for the next steps towards big growth, check out these tips:

Choose your industry wisely

If you’re flexible about what business you’re in, one important thing to consider is industry outlook.

Entrepreneurs hear the many reasons for small business failure: inadequate financing, bad pricing, poorly-defined markets. One very common reason for failure and stifled growth in a small business is the nature of the business itself. Too many entrepreneurs choose to enter industries that just aren’t that profitable.

In 2017, there are some industries that are more in-demand and growing faster than others. Consider some of these fields as you decide what kind of business to start. All of them show great potential for growth in the coming years and represent industries where there’s more need for professionals than people to do the job. If you play your cards right, you can let the business grow for you.

One fast-growing field is financial advising. This industry lends itself well to small businesses. If you’re a rookie to the finance game, starting up might be a challenge. But for experienced financial advisors, starting your own financial services firm can be a great way to go into business for yourself in a fast-growing industry. Growth in this industry from 2014 to 2024 is projected to reach 30 percent.

Another fast-growing field is data science. Demand for data scientists is projected to grow 28 percent by 2020. This represents a lot of opportunity to those who entrepreneurial spirit. The data analytics industry is currently experiencing a skill crisis, but is also one of the hardest to recruit for. If you’re savvy in data analytics, use those skills to enter this very lucrative field for yourself.

One more field that’s on the ups is translating and interpreting. This field shows a lot of promise if you’ve got the skills. Demand for interpreters is growing at 29 percent in the United States. The need for interpreters and translators spans across many other industries as we become a part of an increasingly global economy.

Use your strengths, recognize weaknesses

A key to being a successful businessperson is being self-aware. You won’t do yourself any favors if delude yourself into thinking you’re the best at budgeting, when in reality, you can’t stand having money burn a hole in your pocket. When you are realistic with yourself about your limitations, you’re more likely to make smart business decisions. It’s okay to have flaws, and it’s also important to recognize where you excel.

If you haven’t conducted a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of your business, now is the time to start. SWOT analysis requires you to sit down and critically think about your business in an objective way that will help you identify where you’re on the right track and where you need to improve. It will also put your business in perspective when considering the rest of the industry.

After you’ve identified what you’re doing right and wrong, you’ve got to use that information to make positive changes.

Cover your bases first by working on improvable weaknesses and sizing up your threats. Bad credit? Take the steps to fix it. Are you overworking yourself? Try hiring a specialist to help you get out from under your work. Struggling with your employees? Analyze hiring blunders to figure out if the problem is with you, or if you need to consider implementing background checks. Competition beating you out? Take a look and figure out what they’re doing better than you.

Next, utilize your strengths and opportunities. Playing to what you’re good at is always a better bet than building skills from scratch. Some entrepreneurs use their interpersonal skills to grow their businesses, while others depend on technical skills to get to the top. Whatever you happen to be skilled at, it’s better to focus on them than to funnel extra energy into improving your weaknesses. You’re more likely to miss out on opportunities that might be right under your nose if you’re too busy figuring out how to become the best at everything.

Network like mad

It’s never too soon to start this vital step in building up your business. Whether you’ve already hired your first employees or you’ve just applied for your first business loan, it’s time to start strategizing the ways that you’ll get your business’s name into people’s minds.

You’re a millennial, so you’re no stranger to the social media beast. Most of us recognize just how vital social media is to business success. Facebook is still the biggest bet in social media for a small business. You can’t ignore Twitter or Instagram either. Putting yourself on these sites and utilizing their tools for business owners, like Facebook Ads, will be the first step in creating a network with your customers.

But social media isn’t the be-all and end-all to networking when you’re a small business owner. You also need to make connections that go beyond your customers, to your peers. This is usually better done the old-fashioned way: in person.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Attend small business conferences for great opportunities to meet other entrepreneurs. Check out trade shows and figure out if they’re a good choice for you. And don’t neglect to invest in the always-essential business card.

You should also be prepared with an elevator pitch. You never know who you’re going to meet. Because of that, it’s also a great idea to think about your personal brand, and just how far that extends. Many small business owners are virtually always on the clock. Understand that you represent your company at all times as a small business owner, even at midnight on Saturday.

If you’re truly an introvert at heart and all of this just doesn’t sound like you, but you’re confident in your business, remember the second tip on this list. Recognize that this might be somewhere you’re better off outsourcing to someone with the skills to help your business succeed, and hire a marketing or PR specialist who can do the footwork for you. Whatever you do, don’t neglect your network.

If you make the right decisions, you’ll be rewarded by seeing your business grow. There isn’t a magic wand you can wave to ensure entrepreneurial success, but you can improve your chances with the right approach to building your business. Analyze your business opportunities, utilize your strengths, recognize your weaknesses, and know the value of your network. These aspects of your business’s success depend on you.

About Devin Morrisey

Devin Morrisey is a freelance writer from Daly City, CA. He writes about small business marketing and SEO. On his downtime, he enjoys experimenting with car modifications and collecting vinyl records. He also enjoys researching and writing about auto history. You can connect with Devin on Twitter.

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