Growing your business is no walk in the park. To scale operations, you need to invest in more equipment, more people and in new marketing strategies—all of which take significant capital, which you probably don’t have in your first few years of operation. Aside from just doing your best and letting your business grow naturally from reputation building and increasing customer loyalty, it doesn’t seem like there are many budget-friendly options to spark business growth.
Fortunately, this isn’t exactly the case. There are several measures you can take to help grow your business quickly without investing a dime—at least at first. Follow these six steps to see steady, manageable growth in your first few years.
1. Get to Know Your Customers
You can pay thousands of dollars to an outside firm for some in-depth market research to get to know your customers better, but that’s not always necessary.
Take the time to get to know your customers personally, especially if you only have a handful at first. Ask them why they like your business and what they’d like to see in it in the future. Ask them about their wants and needs, and inquire about what else is going on in their lives.
On a larger scale, you can conduct a survey—for free—and use the aggregated information to form meaningful conclusions about your audience. With those, you’ll have information you can use for future changes—and future steps in this list. Sometimes even subtle changes, such as offering different types of plans, can radically change your business for the better.
2. Learn From Your Competition
You aren’t doing this alone. Every business in the world has at least one significant competitor. Again, you can spend thousands of dollars for a comprehensive competitive research report, but you can gain almost as much information just by looking up your competitors online.
Do a quick search for businesses like yours in the area, and see what kinds of strategies they’ve adopted. You can then use this information as a basis for comparison in your own business: What are they offering that you aren’t? What are they missing that you could create? What voids could you fill for your shared customer pool? This information is invaluable for growth.
3. Set and Align Your Intentions
Now that you have a better understanding of your customers and your competitive landscape, you can set goals for your business. Yes, you want to grow, but how and when will you do it? Do you want to earn more recurring business from your existing customers? Or do you want to gain more visibility from new demographics? Or do you just want to do more for the customers you’re already getting?
There are countless possible goals you can set, and only you can decide which goals are right for your unique business. Once you’ve decided on your company’s short-term and long-term goals, work with your team to make sure your entire organization is on the same page. Communicate your expectations and plans clearly.
4. Delegate Authority to the Best You Can Find
President Ronald Reagan once described his managerial experience to Fortune magazine like this: “surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”
The idea here is to make sure your team of experts are as authoritative as possible, set clear goals for them, and let them figure out the best way to achieve those goals. It will free you up for more meaningful duties and allow more creative energy from your team to find unique, alternative solutions to help your business grow. Trust is key here.
5. Take Advantage of Every Free Channel You Can
There are tons of free ways to generate more visibility for your business, so take advantage of them. All it takes is a little bit of time. Claim your business’ profile on every social media platform you can think of and as many local directories that are relevant to your business.
Post regularly to engage with your followers and write content on your site consistently. You can even follow some search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to start building up your organic search rankings in search engines for free.