1. Make a plan
If you don’t have a current business plan, at least cover off the basics. Moula’s Business Plan Template is a good place to start. A business plan helps you think strategically about your business and what improvements are needed. It doesn’t have to be a 100-page thesis but needs to be detailed enough to cover the basics. For a new business, that might mean 10 to 20 pages, which can be added to as the business grows. A business plan should be viewed as a ‘living’ document and updated regularly as conditions change.
2. Stay the journey
‘Customer experience’ is the new customer service. A good customer experience strategy considers how prospective customers find and interact with you online, purchase from your business, and receive your products and services. Once you have determined the steps along the customer journey and the ones that seem to be lacking, you can begin improving the situation. Does one stage of the customer journey tend to create more questions, issues or complaints from customers? If so, this will be a good place to begin in improving customer experience.
3. Use DIY tools to boost traffic
Right now there are thousands of people searching for your products or services online. If your website doesn’t rank towards the top of search results, you’re simply missing out on opportunities. SEMrush and Ahrefs are two particularly helpful tools to highlight what people are searching for and what your competitors are doing.
4. Encourage loyalty through engagement
If customer retention is your focus, have a crack at creating a customer loyalty program. It can be as simple as a cafe that offers free coffee after five coffees are purchased. Rather than giving your customers points simply for spending, you could also consider rewarding customers for non-financial engagement, such as filling out a survey and starting a two-way conversation.
5. Network online and offline
Networking can be an effective way to connect with new customers and partners, especially for companies selling to other businesses. Besides increasing sales, networking is an excellent way to meet other businesspeople, share experiences and find suppliers. LinkedIn is considered the default method for online networking these days, but you may also like to keep an eye on the happenings of local business chambers and community groups.
6. Cross-promote your services
This is when complementary businesses collaborate to promote each other. For example, an accountant, financial advisor, bookkeeper and insurance broker can recommend each other to their existing clients. These businesses could hold a joint seminar where each business owner shares their expertise. A modern-day, niche example is when retailers with similar products and services encourage potential customers to share the same photo and follow all tagged accounts for an Instagram giveaway.
7. Stick to a ‘social schedule’
We’re not talking about your real-life social calendar, rather, social media. The best in biz are leveraging social media to boost brand awareness and sales. The most relevant platforms will depend on your target market. For example, LinkedIn is good for professional services, while Instagram is best for businesses with creative assets. If you’re working in a team, or simply pressed for time, keep on top of your social media activity through scheduling software. Planoly and Later offer both free, freemium and premium versions, depending on your personal style and budget.
8. Grow ‘up’ first
One way to grow your business is through expanding your range of products and services. As a small business, it’s easier to develop products and services related to what you’re currently offering. For example, Moula started with offering unsecured business loans to small businesses. Through research, Moula found that the cash flow gap between buyers and sellers in business-to-business transactions was hindering business growth. Enter Moula Pay.
9. Find ‘1000 true fans’
As most small businesses already know, to be successful, you don’t need millions. You may want them, but you don’t need them. Consider the ‘1000 true fans’ rule, an internet-famous theory. In the words of Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired, “you don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans”. Think of ‘1000 true fans’ in loose terms, basically, it’s about nailing your niche. With a limited marketing budget, you can do more by focusing on a niche market. Besides, satisfying a small audience first allows you to scale later.
10. Offer invoice payment terms
If you sell to other businesses, offering credit can be a way to boost your business. Research conducted by Moula revealed that 47% of SMEs hold back from investing in their business if they don’t have the available cash flow. In addition, 46% of SMEs would order more stock if they had additional funds. Businesses looking to boost their sales without taking on late payment risk can outsource their credit function with Moula Pay. By offering Moula Pay, companies will get paid upfront by Moula on every transaction.
11. Upgrade your software
Good accounting software can make life richer in more ways than one. According to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, up to 45% of small businesses don’t use accounting software to maintain accurate and up-to-date financial records. When your accounting is up to date, you will have a clearer picture of where your business stands. If you don’t have the skills in house, hire a qualified bookkeeper.
12. Continue the trade talks
Getting your products and services in front of potential buyers at a trade show can help you grow your business. If you sell to other businesses, find out which trade shows will be attended by your target audience. Most of the time you won’t sell on the spot, so it’s essential to get the contact details (including name, email address and phone number) to follow up. If you sell consumer products of services, determine which shows or events will be the best match.
13. Market your way through the Matrix
It may not blow your mind quite like the movie The Matrix, however, this Matrix arguably goes one better. Also known as the Ansoff Matrix, the Product-Market Matrix holds the potential to change the trajectory of your business. The Product-Market Matrix can help your business identify ways to grow through market penetration, product development, market development and diversification. For a new business, or one with cash flow problems, a market penetration strategy may be lower risk, while a business with access to funding may go the development pathways.
14. Invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) system
Once you have details of your customers and prospects, you’ll need a system to manage these details. A CRM makes it possible to keep records of customer contact, this can include information about their interests, tastes and purchases. A CRM is an essential tool for keeping in touch with your customers, as well as to build direct marketing campaigns. When you have the necessary information, you can build targeted campaigns based on interests and past purchases. This is the first step in setting up a customer loyalty program (as covered in point 4 above).
15. Build a 'better-different' blog strategy
This is a good way to find those ‘1000 true fans’ that hang on your every word, and hopefully buy your products, too. As a rule of thumb, when competition is weak, create better content, and when competition is strong, create different content. Blog content is not promotional, so you don’t sell your products and services as you do on other web pages. If you really want to win ‘fans’ and influence people, make sure to capture names and email addresses for future contact.
16. Add that personal touch
Let’s make things personal. Back in the day, sending or receiving letters was a personal experience. While the golden age of letter writing may have passed, the era of newsletter personalisation is here. According to Campaign Monitor, 33% of marketers believe ‘personalisation’ will be most important to marketing in the future. Plus, 74% say that targeted personalisation increases customer engagement, and they see an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalised experiences.
17. Run a creative direct mail campaign
Yes, you are reading a list of good business ideas for 2020, not 1990. Hear us out. Is your inbox or physical mailbox more cluttered these days? That’s what we thought. As the number of emails received increases, a direct mail campaign will help you achieve cut through. Personalisation is a key plank here. Rather than sending out bulk flyers, consider mailing cards with unique URLs that lead to customised microsites or individual QR codes.
18. Get behind a relevant cause
Being a sponsor can be an effective way to get your name in front of potential customers and grow your business. Choose an event or group that will enable you to connect with the right people. If you have a local retail or hospitality business, sponsoring a local sports club or community group could be a good option. If you sell to other businesses, consider sponsoring an industry event or organisation with members who fit your target customer profile.
19. Make a noise about word-of-mouth
One of the best ways to attract new business is to be recommended by happy customers. Be sure to display testimonials, reviews and ratings. You can create incentives for current customers to share stories and images of how your products or services have helped them. Being active on social media will also create opportunities for word-of-mouth marketing. For more ideas, read How to Boost Your Business with Word-of-Mouth Marketing.
20. Consider business finance
Short-term unsecured business loans can make it possible to implement ways to grow a business, whether it’s for purchasing inventory, buying equipment, or launching a marketing campaign. Use our Return on Investment Calculator to estimate your potential return from your next business growth project.