Most business owners put tons of time and energy into starting their businesses. They choose a niche that inspires growth, they come up with a powerful brand story, they create clear business offerings, they design a sales strategy, and they put business processes in place to keep things running smoothly.
But beyond simply starting those businesses — what about growing those businesses?
Once you’ve surpassed the hurdle of getting your business off the ground, it can be all too easy to simply work to stay afloat. But if you want your business to grow and flourish beyond simply making ends meet, here are four essential steps you can take toward making that happen.
1. Design a free opt-in.
What could be an informative asset that your potential client would be interested in — that you could offer them for free in exchange for signing up for your email list?
Maybe this is a free download, a free webinar, a free challenge, or a free collection of articles that would be of value to potential clients when they visit your website.
This helps you begin to establish your reputation as an authority in your industry with interested website visitors, as well as helping you begin to build trust with that potential client by offering them something valuable for free.
It also helps you build your email list. So many business owners right now are putting effort and time into growing their social media following, which is great. But if Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter ever get replaced by the “next best thing,” then you’ve lost all of your followers! Your email list is the only thing you truly own in terms of an audience for your business.
Not to mention, according to recent studies, email marketing has a median ROI of 122 percent (more than four times higher than social media, direct mail, and paid search) — which makes collecting email addresses from potential clients all the more valuable for you as you look to grow your business.
Need help creating a free opt-in? Download my free guide on the “anatomy” of a free opt-in, along with a breakdown of how to build the right opt-in for your business, here.
2. Build a consistent brand.
It sounds so simple, yet it’s something businesses neglect to prioritize time and time again: developing and maintaining a consistent brand.
When your potential clients see your brand out in the world (whether that’s in person at a trade show or networking event, or digitally on social media or in your email newsletter), they should be able to easily recognize and identify your brand. This includes all components of your brand, including your logo, colors, fonts, and the types of imagery you use, to name a few. It should all remain consistent and cohesive.
This also applies to your brand messaging. We all know somebody who has a different name for their business and title for their role in that business every week. But of course, your business and your title should all stay consistent! No matter what you’re talking about, and whether you’re talking about it online or in person, the foundation of your brand message should remain the same.
3. Create a content calendar.
Many business owners post (whether on a blog, on social media, or in an email newsletter) whenever inspiration strikes, or when they have the time to sit down and do so. I’m super guilty of this! But that’s not the ideal way to distribute content to your audience.
A smarter way to move forward is to create a content calendar that is organized month to month, so that if you have upcoming promotions for your business, you’re able to begin pushing them weeks in advance to build in some lead time for promotion — that way, you have time to create some buzz around your offerings, whatever they may be.
Having a specific layout or special topics you post about each week can be helpful, like “Motivation Monday” or “Throwback Thursday.” If you’re posting something consistently on a certain day of the week, that helps to fill up your content calendar in a constructive way.
You can use software to automate these postings so you don’t have to publish posts manually each day. Then when you have something come up that you’re excited about, you can still post about it live in the moment — but in case inspiration doesn’t strike, you’re not left with a content drought.
4. Build a referral network.
Once you have the basic structure for what you’re selling, and you’ve already hit the low-hanging fruit (like tapping into your peers and networking with people you know), it can start to feel like business is drying up. If you’re not sure where to reach out next to find more business, and you’re ready to start working in a smarter way, it’s time to expand into referral networking.
Creating a referral network of people whose businesses align with what you offer but are not in direct competition with your offerings can be really helpful in growing your client list.
For example, if you are a personal trainer and you’re running a PT business, then you’ve got the physical health side of things covered — but maybe you don’t offer any education or services around nutrition. So, you could partner with a nutritionist in your area, and you could refer your clients their way for nutrition advice and services, while they could refer their clients to you for personal training and physical health advice. That way, your clients get the best of both worlds, and you and your referral partner (the nutritionist) can grow both together and individually.
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