How to Grow a Business: 5 top reputation tips
Growing your business online is no easy task. The internet is a crowded place, with companies of all shapes and sizes competing for the same customers. How can you stand out? A surprising amount of businesses neglect the basics. They don’t have a social media presence and ignore reviews from their customers and staff.
You can only grow a business when you’ve got a good reputation. So that’s what we’re going to focus on – the things you can do to engage with potential customers, as well as keep staff happy and promote a positive image of your business.
1. Embrace social media
Nowadays, most people have a social media presence – whether that’s on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn or all of the above. It started off all about connecting individuals, but the gap between consumers and companies is closing as brands use these platforms to bring a personal touch to their marketing campaigns. As such, your absence will be notable.
To start embracing social media, find out what platforms your competitors use and how they’re getting engagement from users. Is this similar to how you’d like to see your business growing? Replicate their tactics, but put your own spin on it.
Regular company updates, re-publishing or commenting on industry news, pushing video content, promoting aspirational content and responding to queries are good places to start. 93% of UK-based SMEs use social media for growth – it’s time to get in on the act.
2. Encourage reviews
Potential consumers like to make informed decisions. You need to promote as many trust signals as you can – and few are more convincing than reviews. Having positive feedback about your products or services will encourage new customers to choose you over competitors without reviews.
Of course, you can’t control reviews and you might get some negative feedback. Indeed, many business owners worry about the impact of negativity online. But if you can show you’ve acknowledged the problem and offered up a solution politely, it can be just as good for your reputation. No company is perfect – a lack of any constructive criticism might ring alarm bells for customers. On the other hand, dealing with the review head-on will show them you’re proactive and capable.
3. Support and listen to your staff
A business isn’t just about its customers. Growing your business requires a team effort – and the happier that team, the better the results. Valued and supported employees boost productivity and retention rates, as well as reduce the number of sick days.
People need a comfortable, pleasant working environment, where they’ve got the flexibility and trust to get on with their work. They want clear motivations and rewards, but also the reassurance they’ll be supported, not punished, if they make a mistake.
In the workplace, there should be a sense of team spirit without ‘favourites’ or different treatment for performance. Set goals that are appropriate and achievable, but also stretch your staff to improve at the same time. Good ways of keeping staff motivated include:
- Being transparent about the company’s objectives, as well as any important changes
- The opportunity for regular feedback
- Team-building activities and events to encourage socialising
- Training and the chance to progress
4. Consider how you could diversify
To increase your customer base and boost revenue, you could think about how to diversify. Is there a complementary product you could sell with your service, or vice versa? Could you start offering industry training? What about importing your products to new places, or setting up in a new location? Would you consider becoming a paid speaker or columnist?
If it’s possible to diversify, it’s a great growth strategy as your business will have more than one stream of income. This could help alleviate seasonal lulls.
5. Prepare for growth
Growing your business is, of course, a great ambition to have. But are you prepared for the additional customers and work? If the groundwork isn’t there, growth could cause more problems than benefits. To make sure you don’t fall at the first few hurdles, here are some things to bear in mind and start working on:
- Get organisation in place. To grow, you’ve got to start thinking as if it’s already happened. If you’ll need additional staff, start looking now. If you’ll need extra support getting products out to customers, make enquiries (here’s where we can help with our business services). Whatever it is you anticipate the business needing as it grows, put those things at the top of your priorities.
- Maintain relationships with any funding sources. Today’s financial climate makes it harder to predict the availability of credit. Make sure you do regular cash flow predictions and maintain relationships with your sources of funding. Staying on top of your cash flow will give you the room for manoeuvre if need be.
- Recognise staff as you grow. We’ve already established how important staff motivation is. To keep employees happy and loyal, communicate business progress with them and reward great performance. Early on, create an environment where people are willing to work through any growing pains.
- Keep listening to feedback from customers. Never lose sight of where your growth comes from – your customers. Keep finding out what they need, what’s important to them and how best you can deliver on your promises.
- Can you tell your business story? As a cornerstone of growth, particularly important for customer and staff loyalty, you need to be able to tell your story. What makes you different to competitors? How do you connect with people and stand out? Know what makes you special from the start. Live and breathe it.
Deciding how to grow a business will never be easy. What awaits you is a long and difficult journey – but these tips will help smooth out any major issues and put you on the right track.