You’ve started your small business, and it’s going well; now it’s time to shift your focus toward business growth.
Your growth strategy doesn't have to be complicated— there are simple and inexpensive things you can start doing today.
We've put together 16 easy steps to grow your small business, from forming a legal entity to building a website, and more.
16 Easy Steps to Grow Your Business
1. Reduce Risk: Form an LLC
If you haven't already formed an LLC, now is the time.
Starting a limited liability company (LLC) creates instant credibility for your business and can protect your personal assets from creditors and lawsuits. LLCs are also very easy to form and run.
You can start an LLC yourself with our form an LLC guides or use a professional service.
Northwest Registered Agent will form an LLC for your small business for $29 (plus state fees).
2. Create a Business Website
Every business, big or small, needs to have a business website in order to appear credible and legitimate in today's marketplace.
Beyond building credibility and trust, there's an opportunity for:
- Organic web traffic
- Customer service
The good news is that it's really easy and inexpensive for small business owners to create and maintain a website. It can take as little as 5 minutes to set up a website with a modern website builder.
Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder make creating a basic website simple and affordable.
3. Establish and Build Business Credit
Business credit gives a business owner access to funds that can be leveraged for growth.
In a National Small Business Association survey, one-quarter of small business owners reported that a lack of funding prevented them from growing their business. And not surprisingly, it was found that 20% of small business loans are denied due to business credit.
These are easy approval credit-building opportunities that will help you grow your business.
Recommended: Learn more about establishing business credit fast.
4. Get a Business Bank Account and EIN
You'll need a dedicated business bank account and EIN in order to grow your business.
Having a business bank account helps business owners get approved for loans, protect their corporate veil, accept credit card payments, and increase credibility with customers.
The good news here is that opening a business bank account is the simplest thing you can do to grow your business.
Recommended: Check out Lili— it's a modern alternative to traditional banks.
5. Get a Business Phone Line
It might be a stretch to say that "nothing says professional like a business phone line".
But, it's definitely not a stretch to say that calling a business owner's personal cell feels unprofessional and uncomfortable.
Our vanity phone number generator will help you find numbers that are available in your area or as a national toll-free number.
6. Use Simple Marketing Strategies for Existing Customers
Good marketing can be inexpensive, you don't have to put a crunch on your cash flow. Marketing to happy customers is free— ask for a review in exchange for a 10% off voucher and start a customer loyalty program.
A customer loyalty program is an easy and mutually beneficial way to engage your existing customer base and attract new customers.
You can create your own customer loyalty program. Punching a rewards card is the simplest and least expensive way to get started.
Another simple option is the value-based loyalty program. Here, the business pledges to donate a certain percentage of profit or other goods to charity per purchase.
7. Always Focus on Improving Customer Retention
Keeping the customers you already have should be a constant, diligent focus.
Increasing customer retention is one of the easiest ways to increase sales. Fundamental practices include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Making customer service your #1 priority, every day
- Always under-promising and over-delivering to build trust and customer satisfaction
- Keeping in touch and thanking loyal customers via email campaigns
8. Put Your Best (and Most Sustainable) Foot Forward
Practice corporate social responsibility and sustainable environmental practices and let your customer base know that you do. If you use or sell sustainable products, make a point of letting your customers know.
If you aren't using or selling sustainable products, research the benefits of doing so within your target market.
9. Build More Connections and Partnerships
There's strength in numbers; this is especially true in the context of business growth. Building more connections and partnerships can help you attract new customers and appeal to a wider market.
Attending networking events in your area can and will help you grow your business. Keep your focus on opportunities to create strategic partnerships within your market. You'll find ways to connect with other businesses and create relationships that will benefit you and other business owners.
When you’re ready to start building business relationships, look for partners that align with your company values, share your purpose, and compliment your company’s strengths. This should be a mutually beneficial relationship, creating opportunities for growth for both partners.
10. Conduct Thorough Market Research
If you are running a successful business already, you most likely have a relatively strong grasp of the industry you’re in. But, whatever your knowledge level, conducting thorough market research is vital to healthy business growth.
- What’s trending in your industry and how your industry has transformed
- How your target audience has changed since the inception of your business
- How your competitor’s target audience has shifted over time
Market research can be done in various ways, such as interviews, focus groups, pricing research, product research, and competitive analysis. To do the most effective research, consider using as many tactics as possible to gain a well-rounded perspective.
11. Optimize Your Online Presence
The internet is the most powerful marketing tool available to small business owners today. Two places on the internet hold growth potential for small businesses: your business’s social media and its website.
- Optimizing your business’s social media platforms requires a focus on both customer interaction and branding. Your business should be using these platforms to connect with customers on a daily basis. In addition, the actions taken on these platforms should be aligned with your brand, including color, content, and tone of voice.
- Your business’s website is an excellent tool for small businesses, and builders like Godaddy make it simple to give your customers a good experience without breaking the bank
Consider hiring or assigning the role of “social media manager.” Since this is such a powerful marketing tool, a team member that is dedicated to the success of your online platforms can often be a good use of funds.
12. Expand Your Team
As your business grows, you'll need to expand your team as well. Hiring can be a stressful and exciting process resulting in innovative ideas and a fresh new voice for your business. Balancing the hiring process and maintaining a productive, positive workplace is key to smooth onboarding. Here are a few tips to remember as you start to expand your team:
- Know how much expansion your business needs.
- Get referrals from your best employees.
- Strengthen your company culture to appeal to new hires and create a more productive workplace.
Most importantly, develop a training structure first. Employees are more likely to stay in a job and be happier in that role if they get good training. For this reason, developing a strong training program is essential to your business growth.
13. Create a Strong Company Culture
It’s no secret that happy employees are essential to business success. Creating a strong company culture can result in higher productivity and lower turnover rates, both of which you need in order to ensure your company’s success. Establish what makes your company a unique, rewarding place to work. Your core values are the foundation of your company culture.
Generally, clear communication, respect, and encouragement are the cornerstones of a positive workplace. Develop strategies to boost engagement and promote superior performance by focusing on these three values and aligning them with your company’s mission.
14. Explore More Funding Options
Expansion costs money and while business may be good, sticking to a budget is vital even for successful small businesses. Exploring more funding options can amplify the possibilities for your business, supplementing the funding you need to expand. First, establish a plan for business growth and determine the amount of funding you will need.
There are many ways to attract more interested investors. Venture capitalists, loans from friends and family, crowdfunding, and angel investors are all potential funding sources to look into. However, before engaging with funding sources, you will need to prepare a business plan or outline that details how the funds will be spent.
15. Keep Up With Analytics
Business analytics are an invaluable resource for every company. This tool compiles statistics and data about every detail of your small business to help business owners identify trends, improve sales, and restructure their business strategy to achieve their goals. Analytics are especially valuable in the context of growth.
Utilizing this data can help you reach new customers or fine-tune your business strategy by giving you the information to make more calculated, informed decisions about your business. For example, you can use analytics to reassess your target market and execute more effective marketing campaigns. Using analytics is a valuable tool to create business decisions that are more focused and constructive to help your business grow.
16. Streamline Your Business Model
Take an honest look at how your business currently functions and where it could use improvement. Specifically, consider how you can streamline your business. Efficiency not only helps team members be more productive, but it also improves customer experience, which helps create more loyal customers.
A few places to work on streamlining are your business’s day-to-day operations, processing times for orders or services, and the timeline to achieve your business goals. Consider using the help of your team to come up with creative ways to boost efficiency and streamline your current processes.
Steps to Grow Your Business FAQ
How can I build business credit fast?
You can build business credit fast with a net 30 account.
Net 30 accounts are used by businesses to buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term. After you establish a good payment history by opening and using multiple net 30 accounts, you will be able to apply for a premium business credit card.
See our Net 30 Accounts to Build Business Credit for more information.
Do I need a business bank account?
Even though you do not necessarily "need" a business bank account, it can be very beneficial for several reasons, including:
- Increased access to business loans
- Increased distance between yourself and your business entity: This can help maintain your corporate veil.
- Ability to build business credit faster
- Access to high-yield savings accounts, tax and accounting software, and expedited payments.
See our Do I Need a Business Bank Account article for a more in-depth overview.
Can I convert into an S corp as I expand?
You can convert into an s corp if you meet the IRS's qualifying criteria. You must:
- Be a domestic LLC or corporation
- Have only "allowable" shareholders
- Have no more than 100 shareholders
- Have only one class of stock
- Not be an ineligible corporation (i.e., insurance companies, certain financial institutions, etc.).
Having said that, just because you can elect s corp status, doesn't mean you should. This is because s corp status comes with several drawbacks, including higher cost and less managerial flexibility.
See our Why Would You Choose an S Corporation for more help on deciding whether s corp status would be the right choice for you.
Can I expand into more than one state as an LLC?
You can, but you'll have to register as a foreign LLC in each state that you want to conduct business in.
This will mean that you will likely have to pay the following fees twice:
- Registered agent fees
- Annual report filing fees
- Articles of Organization filing fees
For more information, see our What is a Foreign LLC guide.
What are the 4 growth strategies?
The 4 growth strategies are:
- Market Development: Increasing sales of existing products to new market segments.
- Product Development: Creating new products to sell to existing markets.
- Market Penetration: Increasing sales of existing products to existing customers.
- Diversification: Launching new products or services on new markets.