Elayne Whitfield, BA, MVA ~ VA Industry ExpertSubscribe Now

The Key to Continual Growth and Expansion

The key to continual growth and expansionIf you want your business to be successful in the long term it is important to continually strive to grow your customer base and expand incoming revenue. If you’re not growing and expanding, you’re stagnating or moving backwards. There are many ways in which you can experience continuous growth and expansion in your business, as well as in your life.

Here are just a few:

Start a Joint Venture Partnership

Although it may be out of your comfort zone, get out there and work on a project with someone who you might normally see as a competitor. If you know someone who promotes complementary products and/or services to yours, get on board with them to promote something jointly. The more often you participate in JVs, the more markets you will be exposed to.

Create More Products or Services

Diversifying your offerings can help you expand and grow in many ways. For example, if you currently run an online course on how to do something, you can expand to offer one-on-one coaching services to delve even deeper into that expertise. This does not require any new skills on your part and it can bring in more money for you.

Outsource More

A fast and simple way to grow your business is to take on more clients. Of course you’re only one person, so you might need to outsource some of your work to others to ensure that you can accommodate this added workload.

Teach What You Know to Others

If you have a specific skill that you can share with others to help them become successful like you, don’t keep it to yourself. You may see this as a way of helping your competition but in fact it is a way to set you apart from them. You’ll not only get more customers but you’ll also be seen as an expert in your field.

Write a Book

If you already have knowledge for something specific the best way to establish your expertise is to write a book on that topic. Then going forward, you can use the book to promote your other products and services. You’ll earn extra money from the book and from the added promotional opportunities the book exposes you to.

Get on the Speaking Circuit

Once you have a book, a course, and a coaching program, you can easily get out and begin to speak about your expertise at various events. Through paid speaking engagements you can get the word out about your business to even more people and solidify yourself as an expert.

Be Consistent and Persistent

If your business is already growing and expanding don’t just sit back and relax; it is important to keep doing what you’re doing. At the end of the day, dedication, consistency, and persistence will pay off for every business model.

Network More Efficiently

Networking is essential for any business to expand. Take a look at how you go about networking and who you’re networking with. Make sure to network strategically with potential joint venture partners, potential customers, as well as colleagues. Especially at events, there will often be limited time to network so make sure you spend it wisely.

Growing in the right direction requires self-awareness and a vision for what you want to accomplish in the future. Occasionally assess your goals and where you are at to ensure that you are on track to be where you want. If you’re succeeding, keep on doing what you’re doing. If you’re behind, it’s okay; you just need to adjust.

Marketing Your Business on a Shoestring Budget

Marketing your business on a shoestring budgetWhether you’re just starting out or funds are tight for whatever reason, there are some things you just cannot do without and you’ll need to find a way to get them done on a shoestring budget. Since you won’t be able to sell anything if no one knows that your business exists, marketing is certainly one of those things. But just because it’s inexpensive doesn't mean it won’t be effective. In fact, some of the most effective forms of marketing can be done on the smallest of budgets.

Business Cards

You can get low-cost business cards online from websites like Vistaprint.com and PrintsMadeEasy.com, or depending on how tight your budget really is, make them on your own printer with your computer. Do not use the free versions of business cards that some sites offer, but if you find a coupon or get a discount code you can get cards inexpensively. It may be an older way of marketing but it still works.
When you go to any event, be sure to leave your business card. When you have any reason to hand out your phone number to anyone, for any reason, give them your business card. You never know when someone will need the services you offer or when your friends and family will meet up with someone who they could tell about your services. Hand your cards out freely.

Build a Website with a Blog

Using self-hosted sites like WordPress makes having a professional looking website with a blog really easy. You can get free themes off WordPress.org, buy a domain for about 15 dollars, and host your website for as low as 5 dollars a month. Every penny of that cost is worth it.
If you’re technologically deficient and can’t afford to hire someone to make it for you, consider using a website builder that offers a blog function. You want the blog to be on your website and not separate from your website like a Blogger or WordPress.com blog. However you choose to do this, the next step is to write regular, informative, keyword-rich blog posts that you promote via social media.

Use Social Media to Promote Everything

It is important to set up branded social media accounts for your business but you don’t have to be on every social media network. Instead, use the knowledge that you have about your audience to choose which social media networks will work best for you. Keep high quality, up-to-date profiles that represent your brand in a cohesive way.
When you write a blog post, send it to social media. When you take a picture of something, or have a question about something you’re creating, mention it on social media. Use social media to engage your audience in creative ways. You can use social media to get email list signups, promote events, and more – all free.

Find a Joint Venture Partner for a Project

A JV partnership is not a real business partnership. It’s a joining of forces or collaboration between complementary business owners who share an audience but are not in direct competition. Finding a project to work on like this can essentially help you both double your audience.
Make the JV partnership a time-limited project that has a definite start and end point. Determine all the rules and how money will be handled up front and put it all in a contract. Define each aspect of the work that each of you will be responsible for completing. Be clear and stick to the plan and you’ll both come out successful.

Write a Book

If you’re an expert on anything you can write a book about that topic. You can publish it easily on Kindle or promote it as a PDF document right from your website. You can sell it, or give it away for free. It’s up to you. Books can push you forward in the eyes of your audience as a true expert and they can become a calling card for you.

Get on the Speaking Circuit

Using your book as a foundation, put the word out that you’re ready to give talks locally. For the cost of a ticket, room and board, you can also go to other speaking events out of town. Sometimes, you can even get paid for speaking once you’re established and in demand. Speaking is not only a relatively cost-free marketing strategy, but it can also be a source of income.

Create Buzz

When you really have no money, a great way to get the word out is to create a lot of buzz. This can be done through any number of the previously mentioned strategies, the important this is to get people thinking and talking about you. Create a video, write a controversial blog post, or have a contest with videos that get voted on by the video creator's friends, family and audience. It’s a great way to get people talking and to get free advertising. Offer a relevant and amazing prize package and it’ll also create buzz.

Build Relationships through Networking

Choose networking events wisely. You want to network with people who can become clients, or who can send you clients. Since your budget is limited, try to find online or local networking events that you can attend. There are many mastermind groups online that have a small fee for joining but are awesome ways to find clients once you spend the time building relationships and developing trust.

Incentivize Referrals

A really great way to increase your customer base is to convince your customers to refer you to others. Most of the time satisfied customers will tell others about you, but in some cases they may not because they want to keep you to themselves. This is especially true with service-based businesses. In this case, a great way to overcome the issue is to give your customers a reason to tell others about you. Offer a discount coupon or additional freebies for each paying customer that people send your way.
If you sell products, consider starting an affiliate program as a way to get more people to tell others about your products and make more sales without it costing you anything more than a percentage of those sales.

Using these marketing ideas when you have little to no money will take mostly time, especially if you need to learn how to use the technology. However, putting to work even a couple of these ideas will push your business forward.