Some will say that getting a business off the ground is the difficult part and that actually growing your business is the easy part. While this argument could run and run, a bit like debating whether the chicken or the egg came first, growing your business is still an incredibly difficult process if you don’t get it right.
Sure, once you’re up and running with your first few customers or clients on board you can start building a reputation and looking at ways to bring in new business further down the line, but you still need to put in plenty of hard graft to make that happen. Business pitches, researching your potential clients and customers, getting a foot in the door to make those conversations happen… it’s never easy, but there are a number of things you can do – and tools you can use, specifically – that will help you grow your business much more easily (and without a lot of the stress, too!)
Collaboration and Communication Software
Firstly, you need to stay in touch with your customers and clients. A weekly update on the status of their account with you or a report on what’s been delivered and month-on-month performance are fine; but having that personal touch with your client base can not only keep them on-side, but can also open doors within their wider business.
Taking a scenario, let’s imagine you’re working in digital marketing and have a client who pays you for SEO services. If you can build up a great working relationship with them you might find that they can open doors for you to grow that account into areas like PPC, social media and even offline marketing – and that’s before they start talking to their own business contacts over dinner about what a great job you’re doing for them!
Tools like Slack are a great way of building and maintaining these relationships. A free online platform that allows you to chat, share files and more; it’s its own social network in many ways as you can create ‘channels’ for your important business conversations, and hold individual conversations with your contacts to chat about the status of a task, the dodgy defender at the club you both support…anything!
Project Management Software
Once your client work is up and running it’s always good to keep a clear plan of just what needs to be done, where you’re up to and when everything is due. Being organised is vitally important not only in growing a business, but in business generally. Without a clear plan of action you’re never going to be able to plan for the future and project management software can help get everything in order.
Not only that, project management software and tools like Trello can also provide clarity for your clients. With Trello and other project management tools you can share the task list with your colleagues and clients, giving everyone full visibility so everyone is completely clear on what needs prioritising.
This gives staff a clear plan for the week – or weeks – ahead, and your clients the ability to ask questions and provide their own updates when you’re waiting on sign-offs.
Why does this benefit you and help you grow? Well, by nailing down your processes and getting your house in order early you can become more efficient, letting everyone know what is expected and helping you plan your resource. By making efficiencies you can decide when the time is right to start growing your client base or your staff numbers – or both!
Being able to work anytime and anywhere means you can get tasks done without having to be at your desk. Spending time travelling to client meetings or sitting on the train during your daily commute can be infuriating when you’re against the clock, but cloud storage and platforms have made it possible to access and share documents on any device with a web connection.
By saving your files in the cloud, or creating backups, you can login and work while you’re on the train or in the back of a car depending on your web connectivity, allowing you to hit the all-important deadlines that can make a huge difference to the reputation of your business and your efficiencies.
Platforms such as Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive all allow users to store, edit and share files over the web making it quicker and easier than ever to work from home – or on the move – and allows clients to make important updates to files including sign-offs and amends that can save significant amounts of time in the long run.
Social media is everywhere. It’s all around us and influences everything we do. It’s also an excellent business tool and a way of growing your reputation and getting your name out there.
Once you’ve set up your business profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest; it’s important to share your best work, to interact with potential customers and influencers, and to both give and receive praise where it’s due.
Social media platforms including Hootsuite and Tweetdeck allow you to have all of your social platforms on one handy dashboard so you can monitor replies, direct messages and posts from those you like or follow. You can even schedule posts to go live at certain times of day meaning you can reach out to an overseas audience at the optimum time without even being awake – great if your clients and customers are based in the United States or Australia and you’re based in the UK.
Blogging and Content Creation
Lastly, but by no means least, it’s vitally important for you to be creating content on your site. This is the place to showcase your expertise, to give customers – and potential customers – the information they need to make an informed decision on whether to invest in your goods and services, or not.
By creating blog posts and unique, engaging content on the site you can optimise for search intent, too. Study the latest data and trends to ensure that you’re hitting the right people with the right content at the right time – after all, there’s no point posting about irrelevant topics or giving people Christmas buying guides in the height of summer.