As entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers, we are obsessed with growth. You probably spend a considerable amount of time wondering how you can grow your business more quickly and effectively, and to your credit, since lack of growth focus inevitably leads to business decline. Unfortunately, when you’re in charge of running a small business, you can’t simply hurl money at problems to make them disappear. Instead you must be agile and capable of coming up with intelligent, reasonable solutions that will put you ahead of your competitors – without leaving you out of pocket. To that effect, here are six entrepreneur hacks that you can use to grow your small business.
Use Social Media To Amplify Your Marketing Efforts
A successful marketing plan must be varied and well thought-out, and of course, you will have a lot to work on outside of your social media campaigns. But social media is a great tool to amplify the impact of your efforts and increase the chances of success. For the most part it’s also very affordable, and yet still under-utilized as a means of marketing. If you’re not using it already, now is the time to start.
Most of us have certain social networks that we prefer to use over others, however, when you’re approaching social media as a business, it’s important to at least be present on all major networks. Give your prospective customers a chance to hear from you. You can then refine your efforts as it becomes clear which channels are proving most effective. Here is a useful guide on choosing the right social networks for your business – it has much to do with your audience and the kind of products or services that you offer.
On that note, you should also consider:
How To Format Content For Different Social Platforms
Often times new business owners make the mistake of routinely posting the same thing on each of their social accounts, without making allowances for the differences between them. But observing and making the most of these differences is crucial, as every social network is used slightly differently, and for varying purposes. To really get the best out of your social marketing efforts, content should be specifically repurposed for each platform.
Twitter users, for example, favor short and snappy statements accompanied by an image or GIF. Facebook users love memes: the humorous and engaging images (accompanied by text and often rooted in popular culture) that often appear on our newsfeeds. Instagram is all about beautiful and appealing photography, and using hashtags strategically. And LinkedIn users are looking for something longer and meatier that offers some good insight. Even if you plan on sharing the same message or piece of content across all four, the content and format will require mixing up for best results.
Naturally you will then find that some networks work better for you than others, and when you do, you can really start to push your efforts in that direction. Most social platforms offer some sort of advertising scheme that will make your posts more visible – Facebook advertising is a good place to start. As you get to know your customer niche, you can also start perusing specialist groups and forums to find out what people are saying and what matters to them.
Tap Into The Power Of Influencers
Influencers are a little like the celebrities of the online world. They could be a huge star, who with just one endorsement will send thousands of people flocking to your website, or they could be a small fry, but with enough credibility built up over time to provide you with a valuable recommendation.
First off, you will want to do some research. There are many different types of influencer, and a number of ways to go about finding them, whether that’s through an agency or using one of several online tools, such as Buzzstream or LinkedIn Groups. You then need to get to know them a little and follow them on social media to see what matters to them, before making your pitch. Find out how to do influencer marketing right in 2017.
Leverage Your Existing Client Relationships
In addition to the online celebs, never underestimate the power of online reviews from average customers. These matter a great deal too. Customers can be encouraged to leave reviews by making sure that it’s easy to do so, putting existing reviews in a visible place, soliciting reviews via email, and through incentives such as a monthly prize draw or gamification.
Be Open To Feedback
If you’re a business owner, then knowing how to handle others’ assessment is crucial. Especially in the early days, seek feedback from as many people as possible, and make sure they’re being honest. Don’t be content with praise: ask for constructive comments about your product, your branding, your customer service. And don’t become defensive if what you hear isn’t what you expected.
Remember, you don’t have to follow all suggestions, but it is important that you hear them. If you are only surrounded with ‘yes people’ then you could miss out on potential ways to make your product offering much better. Here are some top tips for gathering feedback.
Nail Your 90-Second Elevator Pitch
The seasoned investor and entrepreneur Robert Herjavec says “You have 90 seconds to make an impact in your pitch”. That’s if you’re lucky. “If you can’t make your point persuasively in that time, you’ve lost the chance for impact. Facts and figures are important, but it’s not the only criteria – you must present in a manner that generates expertise and confidence. If you’re not prepared to make your pitch, you may just miss your next big opportunity.”
As a fresh-faced entrepreneur, being able to concisely and creatively describe what is unique about what you do is one of the most important skills to master. And it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Likewise, many also make the mistake of thinking their pitch is a one-way conversation – it isn’t. The best elevator pitches use questions to create a two-way conversation and ensure that your points remain relevant. The best advice is to aim for simplicity and get straight to the heart of what you do: no rambling off-point. If you can develop a 90-second elevator pitch that gets people inspired, you’re onto a very good thing.
Here is one of the top guides to assembling a winning elevator pitch.
Spread Your Overhead Costs
When you’re in charge of a startup or running a new business, it’s wise to keep your initial costs to a minimum, otherwise you will be under a lot of pressure to generate income faster. The more debt you become saddled with in the beginning, the higher your chances of failing, so you should ensure there is a legitimate reason to invest in everything that you buy, whether that’s office space, kit, or a new employee. At least in the beginning, you must be willing to get stuck into creative problem-solving and make some compromises.
An office premises is obviously one of the biggest expenses for any new business, and one of the reasons that many new companies now choose to set themselves up online. Another expense is kitting the place out with desks, chairs, computers, and so forth. In this instance, you might want to consider leasing or buying second-hand. Software can also add up if you need a lot of it, so you may wish to seek out options that allow you to break the cost down and pay monthly, rather than forking out for an annual subscription in one go.
For example, if you’re starting an eCommerce business, then you might choose to go with a reliable hosted online store platform like Shopify, which starts with a free two-week trial, then allows you to pay monthly for a basic, standard or advanced plan, which can be as little as $29 per month. BigCommerce also offers similar pricing.
A new business needs time to start generating a profit, and can often take longer than 12 months to do so. This is worth bearing in mind as you make financial estimates for the first year of trading.
The lifestyle of an entrepreneur has potential to be incredibly rewarding, but it has its ups and downs and its own fair share of stressors. Always remember as you work towards your goals that every one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs once stood exactly where you are. Absorb their lessons, practice patience, and be willing to take risks every now and again.
Tell us what you think! Are there are more startup business hacks you would add? Let us know by sharing them in the comments.
Author: Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant & Freelance Writer. Victoria works with new ecommerce businesses and entrepreneurs to create valuable content and targeted marketing strategies that yield strong results. She is always happy to share some of her knowledge with others to help them get their startups off the ground.