Starting a business is hard, but growing a business is even harder. Any foolish person can start a business, but only smart entrepreneur can make a business successful.
Coca Cola that`s today the most valuable and the most famous product in the world was started by a smart Chemist but a poor business man, John Pemberton. Left with him Coca Cola would have become just another failed product.
Thank God a smart business man (Asa Candler) bought the Coca Cola and turned it to a huge success with his marketing and business skills.
In this tutorial, I will be taking you through 5 tips by which you can grow your small business.
Let`s get inside….
- Don`t sell bread to dogs.
Even before you start a business or selling any product, the first thing to consider is your market audience.
For there to be a success in the market place, product/service must meet customers. Not just customers, but customers who value what you’re selling and who are willing to pay for it.
Sometimes a small business owner will have a very good product or service, but because the market he is trying to sell to don`t value what he`s offering he will not make much money.
Last month I spent about three days with a good friend of mine who is a poet (the best poet I have ever met). He writes so many poems and I love reading many of his works.
As we conversed together, I asked him, “Who are your audience?” In other word, “who are those who actually value what you have to offer?” His answer was not encouraging because we`re living in a world where most youths and adult don`t appreciate poetry. What most people do in our day is to spend hours on T.V, movie, football etc. Especially in Africa, only few people read good books.
Writing a poem in Nigeria with the aim of making much money on it may be successful, but it`s like giving bread to dogs. It may not eat much of it.
To grow a small business, you must be selling the right product/service to the right people (people who really value what you`re selling and who are willing to pay for it).
What is it that you want to sell? Who and who actually need that product/service. Who is willing to pay for it?
If you`re selling a good product or service to people who don`t know its value (or people who cannot pay for what you are offering), there is no marketing strategy in the world that can help you to sell such product/service to make much money.
- Customer is still the king
I have heard it said many times (even before I became and adult) that customer is the king. However, even till this very hour, most small business owners still treat their customers as beggars.
You have been treated unkindly by a seller before. I have been treated unprofessionally by a business owner before. We both understand how it feels. But if care is not taking, we too can make the same mistake of treating our customers like beggars.
Myself and my wife went to a popular market about a week ago and were buying something from a woman. To me she didn`t do anything bad (maybe because I wasn`t expecting much from her), but to my wife she was such a bad seller.
She complained to me about how the woman used left hand to collect money from her and to give her what we bought (you know in part of Africa you don`t use left hand to give things to people). That was big enough an offense for a small business owner to lose her potential customers.
Customer is still the king and always demand to be treated as one.
Sam Walton (one of the richest men ever in the world) has said it. Customer is the real boss in every company. He`s the one who can pay salary (by buying what you`re selling) or sack everybody (by buying from the competitors).
Welcome him cheerfully. Smile at her. Let him see you as a friend. Show her (and tell her) you`re into business because of her, to serve her.
When your customer complain, don`t be angry. When he prices what you`re selling and turns his back without buying, appreciate his coming.
Treat him as a king and he will come back, even with his friends.
- Let your product/service speak for you.
So many people these days are in a hurry to make money that they are going to the market with fake, substandard or pirated products. They could make some money this way, but never enough to make them rich.
For a small business to grow and become successful, the owner have to be selling a great or unique product. The two are different. A product can be great or can be unique.
Let me explain.
In a new market (when a new product or line of product just come into a new territory) a product needs not be great. Since there are no competitors, an average (but unique) product or service can become a great success.
When newspapers like Tribune started, they might be writing about how two goats fight. People would still buy their newspapers then. Why? There were probably less than five national newspapers then in Nigeria.
They needed not to be great. They are already unique.
If you`re offering something different, new or unique in your territory (market), you can grow your little business just by being good.
If you want to go into newspaper business in Nigeria today, you will rather be great or be a failure.
In a highly competitive market, for a small business to grow, the owner has to bring something great to the market place.
When I mention great here, I never intend it to mean that you must produce something that is never in existence, but I mean that you have to be very creative.
You can grow your small business even if your product/service is like that of other people around you. You can improve your marketing skills. You can offer a great customer service. You can be known to be great with the way you do business (not necessarily the business you do)
When customers come to your office and have a great experience, even if you`re selling what hundreds other people are selling, they`ll see your business as a different, a great or a unique business, so they`ll come back and tell their friends to come to you.
- Don`t depend on your good product/service, market
No matter how good what you`re selling is, you will have to use marketing to drive your business, if truly you wish to grow and make a lot of money through it.
Have you ever seen any small business owner who start a business (either in kiosk or in a shop) and just hope that such business will grow? There are thousands of them in every city.
They are wrong.
For any small business to grow, there must be elements of marketing in that business.
Some people who are reading this will think, “How can I get money to run advert, since I’m a small business owner”. No. not every marketing costs you money. In fact, the most effective marketing for your small business may not cost you a dime.
But it will cost you knowledge. Business knowledge. Marketing knowledge. Read this tutorial about marketing strategies and let me talk further in the next point.
- Increase your business skills.
Most small business owners are illiterate. By this I don`t mean to say that they didn`t attend formal school. Some of them do, but you know I don`t care about the “education” school gives, don`t you?
Yes, I don`t care about the “education” school gives. I don`t believe it`s education at all. That`s why I wrote 7 reasons why I hate school.
When I talk about education here, I mean, business education.
Asa Candler who bought Coca Cola and turned it to a huge success didn`t attend school yet, he did what a Chemist (the original inventor of Coca Cola) could not do. He did that because he was having good business skills.
If you truly desire to grow your little business, you`re like a graduate of medical science. For a graduate of medical science to become a renowned doctor, he/she has to be a continuous student of medicine.
I called you “graduate” because you have taken a huge step by starting a business of your own. But now, you have to continually seek business knowledge. Read business books, read about marketing, leadership, human relationship, negotiation, human persuasion and few other topics that will help you to know far more than your competitors.
The more you know about business, the better you will be in the way you play the games in the business world. (You can pick a great business book here)
- Keep a customers` list and numbers.
One smart thing you can do as a small scale business owner is to keep a book and record few details about people who patronize your business. You can take their first names and phone numbers. You can get their email address (depending on your kind of business).
If the service you`re rendering involves much relationship with your clients (hairdressing, fashion designing, etc.) you may know whenever a regular customer doesn`t come to you for a long time. You can give such a person call or text him/her.
If you`re selling products or rendering service that doesn`t allow you to be much intimate with your customers or clients, you can have a system in place where you send appreciating texts to people the very day they buy from you and on other special days like Christmas, new year, etc.
You can use a customize bulk sms (which is very cheap) or your personal mobile phone.
Make sure your approach is friendly when you ask for your customers` personal data because some people may be suspecting such action to be anything other than your motive.
- Spread the virus.
Is there any way you can give a free sample of your products out to people without biting your fingers? Do you have a budget that can take care of that? Go for it. Make a sample and give it out.
That`s like a virus. It spread your business because human beings love free things. They will tell their friends, their friends will tell other friends, they will get more people to come and taste your free offer.
If truly your product or service is unique or great, those who come for free sample will become paying customers
In conclusion, no business grows by itself. People behind business work smart and hard to make them grow.
Apply all the above tips, work smart at it and see your small business growing.