Launching a small business is challenging, and many aspiring entrepreneurs struggle for years trying to make their business successful without success. Sustainably growing a small business is a challenge that requires a different set of strategies and tactics. According to car dealership mogul Hooman Nissani, here are five things that growth-oriented small business owners need to keep in mind in order to get to the next level:
1. Turn Processes into Systems
When they launch, many small businesses use manual processes for functions like invoicing, inventory management, email marketing, and so on. However, these processes eventually become an obstacle to scaling because they are inefficient, costly, prone to human error, and difficult to standardize. That’s where systems enter the picture and make a transformative difference. While capital and customers are obviously essential for business growth and success, what most small business owners need more than anything else is time so they can calibrate their vision, sharpen their focus, and work at the executive level instead of getting bogged down with administrative and clerical work. Hooman Nissani believes that using technology to turn manual processes into repeatable, automated systems can effectively unleash dozens of hours a week that can be spent on profitable activities and top priorities.
2. Optimize the Sales Funnel
Many small business owners have vast amounts of customer data at their disposal, which can and should be used to optimize the sales funnel — which ultimately opens the door to selling more in a shorter period, while enhancing customer experience and boosting repeat business and referrals.
Hooman Nissani states that: “A critical and often overlooked part of sales funnel analysis is figuring out the reasons why qualified prospects exit the relationship. This analysis could lead to new product development, or a re-oriented sales strategy that turns more of these prospects into long-term, loyal customers.”
3. Develop Strategic Partnerships
Many small business owners think that they need to be significantly larger and more established before they can develop strategic partnerships. However, while this may have been the case decades ago, it certainly isn’t the situation now. These days, even bootstrapping start-ups are leveraging strategic partnerships to do everything from generate brand visibility in a crowded marketplace, to onboard profitable new customers. Small business owners should start by exploring potential strategic partnerships in their local area to determine if there are viable co-branding or referral relationships. Hooman Nissani cannot overstate the importance of ensuring that any potential partners are complimentary instead of competitive, and that there are clear commitments in place. For example, if the arrangement is to cross-promote on each business’s website, then make sure that expectations are aligned, fair and in writing.
4. Get Outside Help
The good news is that there are many qualified and reputable consultants who specialize in helping small businesses get to the next level. The bad news is that there are just as many — if not perhaps more — pseudo-consultants out there who can barely run their own business, let alone help someone else elevate theirs. To connect with the former and avoid the latter, small business owners need to conduct due diligence and confirm that the expert they’re working with is the real deal vs. someone who knows little more than a bunch of buzzwords. Legitimate consultants never engage in aggressive sales tactics, and they don’t make wild, hype-driven promises or claim to have secret insider knowledge. Hooman Nissani explains that experts have extensive, proven experience enabling small businesses to make smart, data-driven decisions that drive sustained growth.
5. Utilize social media
In the past, utilizing social media generally meant having a Facebook and Twitter presence. While these heavyweights are still vital, small businesses that want to expand their marketplace and drive visibility need to enlarge their social media footprint by, for example, showcasing their offerings and brand on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Spiceworks for tech-driven companies, and LinkedIn for firms in the business to business space.
Adds Hooman Nissani: “All of these social media properties need to be part of a cohesive program of generating and distributing fresh, relevant content, and driving engagement from both existing and prospective customers. Small business owners that don’t have the in-house capacity to handle this function should seriously consider outsourcing to a qualified and reputable agency.”
The Bottom Line
Growing a small business can be exciting — but also stressful. There are opportunities to exploit, and pitfalls to avoid. Keeping Hooman Nissani’s advice in mind will go a long way towards making the road ahead smooth, straightforward and successful.