How to Grow a Small Business

Chapter 01: How to Grow a Small Business

There are more than 30 million small businesses in the United States alone. They span dozens of industries, from real estate to manufacturing to technology, and together, they employ millions of people from around the world.

Regardless of how different these small businesses are, there is one universal question that plagues every entrepreneur: “How do I grow my business?”

In this post, we’ll help answer that question by sharing our top tips and secrets from the experts to help grow your company.

How to Grow a Company Successfully

Scaling your business is hard. In the beginning, it means wearing a bunch of different hats while also working to validate your ideas. Once you’ve gotten your business off the ground, it means sleepless nights trying to figure out how to attract new customers and become profitable. It’s challenging, but not impossible. By tracking data, hiring the right team, and understanding your customers, you can begin to grow.

Here are five ways to grow a company successfully:

Understand your customers: It’s easy to look at research, data, and user behavior to claim you understand your customers. It’s another thing entirely to actually meet your customers in-person and get to know them on a personal level. You and your entire team should make it a habit to talk to customers on a regular basis, through focus groups, phone calls, or at events. Let customer feedback and data guide your business decisions.

Stay true to who you are as a company: You can’t offer everything to everyone, so focus on what you do best and focus on improving that part of your business. For example, if you build accounting software, focus on improving the core set of features that your customers can’t live without, rather than spending time building new features and products that would weaken your main value propositions.

Monitor the money: When you’re putting together your business strategy, you should always focus on sales, revenues, and cash flow. Focus on your net profit, not your gross profit, to get a more realistic view of how the business is doing.

Attract and retain the best: Don’t get so distracted by finances, goals, and logistics that you lose sight of some of the most important factors to your growth: your employees. Roll out programs to make your employees happy, like offering flexible work options, investing in leadership development, and allowing employees to pursue passion projects.

Measure success: Figure out what success means to you and how you will track it. This will look different for every company and will depend on your industry, your financials, and what your business goals are. Regardless of what kind of metrics you do choose, make sure to consistently report on them and learn from them.

Looking for more tips? Read our blog post, “The Small Business Guide to Growth: 16 Tips on How to Expand a Small Business.

Secret to Growing a Business

When trying to grow your business, there are always those tried-and-true sales and marketing tactics you can implement. But, what better way to learn how to scale your company than from the experts who have done it before?

Here are three secrets to growing a business from the people behind some of the most successful companies:

Mark Cuban: Be honest with yourself

"All entrepreneurs lie to themselves. We all go through the same process. We tell ourselves, 'This is the best, everybody loves us, no one is going to not like product.' Of course, that is not true. What I like to tell people is, 'when you have a company, when you are an entrepreneur, you have to figure out how to kick your own a-- before someone else does it for you.

"You have to look at your own company and be brutally honest with yourself and say, 'What do we do well?' That's great. But also be honest and say, 'What do we not do well? Where are our challenges? And then how can we improve them?'", said Mark Cuban in an article from CNBC.

Richard Branson: Plan for the long term

“Setting some milestones for you and your team to work towards will keep you motivated and driven,” Richard Branson recommended in a post on Virgin America’s blog. “There will be obstacles to growth you cannot foresee but having a roadmap in place from the get-go will help build structure and focus to decision-making. If you have a clear vision of where you would like your business to have expanded to after 10-year, plan how you can achieve this.”

Jeff Bezos: Embrace high standards

“Building a culture of high standards is well worth the effort, and there are many benefits. Naturally and most obviously, you’re going to build better products and services for customers – this would be reason enough! Perhaps a little less obvious: people are drawn to high standards – they help with recruiting and retention. More subtle: a culture of high standards is protective of all the “invisible” but crucial work that goes on in every company. I’m talking about the work that no one sees. The work that gets done when no one is watching. In a high standards culture, doing that work well is its own reward – it’s part of what it means to be a professional,” wrote Jeff Bezos in the 2018 shareholder letter.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, you understand your business the best and will know what can realistically grow your company. However, don’t be afraid to experiment. Try different tactics and keep track of what worked and didn’t work. If you feel stuck along the way, talk to your customers. Find out what they love about your company and what you can improve on. Eventually, with a lot of patience, you’ll stumble upon the biggest growth driver for your company.