Boss Lady

The 4 growth areas your business should focus on this year

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Any business owner who wants long-term success needs to plan for growth.

Right now, you may feel like your business has plateaued — that new customers and sales aren’t coming as easily or quickly as they have in the past. This can be a sign that you need to change up which areas of your business you’re focused on.

These four areas are some of the most important for business owners wanting to grow their companies. Switching focus to these areas can help you attract new customers and solidify your relationship with the ones you already have.

1. Productivity, efficiency, and team collaboration

Small businesses don’t always have the resources to scale up by bringing on new staff — but they may find they can’t serve more customers than they already are with the team they have.

Inefficiencies in business processes and barriers to effective communication both make it much harder for a business to serve new customers and grow — especially when money is tight.

Process mistakes could be costing you time and money. Uncovering these mistakes and making changes can free up resources that your business may use to grow. These mistakes may be inefficient management of employees or bottlenecks in the supply chain that have caused damage or late orders in the past.

Your team’s ability to collaborate can also help or hinder business growth — especially if some or all of your team has recently gone remote. Adopting new tools can help your team collaborate. For example, discussions on chat platforms like Slack are searchable, ensuring important conversations are accessible by the whole team rather than buried in an email chain.

Video conferencing tools can help facilitate meetings and digital onboarding. Often, the right video conference tool can be much more effective than a phone call or email.

Productivity-boosting tools — like business intelligence (BI) platforms for analytics, or robotic process automation software for simple, repetitive tasks — can also be a great investment.

2. Market research

Knowing the conditions of the market you’re in will be essential to growth. Every business needs to have a firm idea of who their customers are and how their competition is targeting them. Otherwise, it will be much harder to plan which audiences offer the most potential for growth and determine how to beat your competition.

Competition research will tell you how the competition is solving customer problems and communicating with their audience. Carefully studying your competition’s approach to business can help you emulate parts of their marketing strategy that work — or take advantage of weak spots in their business plan.

For example, you may find that a competitor is having great success with good social media marketing practices — like creating shareable content. You could follow the competition’s lead and try to beat them at their own game. You might also consider another strategy using a different channel.

This research can also help you determine if your business’s offerings or unique selling proposition is too close to others in your niche.

Many business owners use competitor maps to visualize the service area of their competition. This often helps pick out which areas may be hard to break into and which areas may be underserved.

Mapping can also help you really understand how your customer base is distributed around your local area, the region, or even the country. This information may help you plan sales routes or boost your geographical marketing efforts.

3. Customer experience

Customers who have positive experiences with a business are often willing to pay more. And those who have a negative experience may write off a brand entirely.

If you’re not providing a positive customer experience, you could be losing out on first-time buyers or potential repeat customers.

Identify areas of your business that may be providing positive experiences and those that may be holding your business back. A combination of analytics and qualitative research — gathered from surveys and customer feedback forms — can help you here.

You may find that most customers are dropping out of the sales funnel at a particular point. This could help you identify something specific — like a webpage or element of your online storefront — that’s slowing down or confusing customers.

You may also find your customers have had poor experiences with shipping and customer service response times — allowing you to shift resources to those areas or change how you deliver goods to your customers.

4. Branding and business values

Your branding and business values can have a significant impact on your ability to draw in new customers. How your company presents itself and its products can also significantly influence customer awareness and recognition of your business’s identity.

A strong brand image helps ensure customers remember your business long after they’ve made a purchase or seen one of your advertisements.

Many businesses also take advantage of branding to communicate the values they stand for. Playful design, bright colors, minimalism, muted palettes — all of these can significantly impact how customers perceive your business.

Tone can also have a major effect on the public’s perception of your brand. Many business experts recommend that you humanize your tone on social media, for example, which can help make your business seem more open, friendly, and approachable.

Keep your business growing

Focusing on the wrong areas may be holding your business back. Fortunately, with the right priorities, any business owner can put their company on track for growth.

Your market research, approach to customer experience, and branding can all have a serious impact on your ability to attract a larger audience. If you can prioritize these areas, you’re likely to have a much better chance at future business growth.

About Eleanor Hecks

Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

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