1. Invest in Your Small Business
The phrase “It takes money to make money” is what we are exploring with this tip. As veteran small business owners, when money is tight, you can be hesitant to take on debt; but, if you want to grow your business, you are going to have to find capital to invest in your product, in marketing, in upgrading your technology, and all the steps you know you must take to actually grow your small business. That’s why we have this point first – it is the stepping-stone to launch you into the rest of the steps in this ebook. As clear as it sounds:
You have to invest in your business to grow your business.
And to do that successfully, you need to know where you are going to get your funding from and how you are going to use it. At StreetShares we want you to be prepared. Start by understanding what you are facing on all aspects of your small business funding: ask the lender to show you all the costs associated with the loan including:
- origination fees
- servicing fees
- the full APR
- any early prepayment penalties
- other costs
Know the full contract when you sign. The financing of your business loan can have a big impact on your long-term success, so being informed and choosing a small business lender wisely can be one of the most important decisions you make, but still a necessary one for the growth of your veteran small business.
2. Intentionally Brand Your Business and Think about Your Buyer Personas
Branding entails several aspects of your marketing campaign; and should be seen as much more than just your “logo” or your “name.” It is the starting point that shows your customers who you are and what you stand for; both what you do, and the manner in which you do it. What are your priorities and the things that you are most passionate about with your small business? What audiences do you most want to reach and how is your product going to improve the life of your customers? How trustworthy and credible does your business appear to be?
That being said, it is still important to strategically think about and plan for your logo and your small business’ name from several angles. Think about the personality and the “vibe” that you want your small business to put out to the world. It should be informative, but also engaging and interesting enough to catch attention.
3. Build Brand Awareness with a Marketing and Social Media Plan
Bill Gates said, “There will be only two kinds of businesses, those with an internet presence, and those with no business at all.” Maximizing your small business’ internet presence and social media platform can provide enormous growth opportunities. Creating social media accounts can help you create brand recognition and you can reach a larger variety of customers by engaging in our culture’s active platform. Therefore, create and sustain various social media accounts.
To get you started, we’re talking Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube. Look at where your customers are and start there. If they’re mostly on Facebook, create a Facebook page. If they’re posting pictures on Instagram, meet them there and create stories on Instagram. You don’t have to be part of every social media channel. Choose the ones where you can find your customers.
Learn more specific social media strategies in this blog post, “8 Social Media Marketing Strategies to Foster Your Veteran-owned Small Business.”
Get Listed on Review Sites
To take things a step further, look in to making sure that your small business is listed. Current relevant directories might be places like Google, Bing Places for Business, Yahoo Local Listings, Yelp, Yellow Pages, White Pages, Angie’s List, and Trip Advisor. Once you are listed, encourage customers to review your business on these forums, and periodically check these reviews and engage in dialogue when appropriate.
Attract Visitors with Content Marketing
Also, create a website for your veteran small business and attract visitors to your site through content marketing by writing relevant blog posts and through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The goal behind SEO is essentially, through use of key buzzwords, to get your website listed higher on search engines when customers type in those specific buzzwords. Being on one of the first pages of a Google search is, essentially, free advertising; you just have to know your targets and make SEO a priority.
4. Establish Your Local Community
There is a time and a place to build relationships with potential customers online, but there is also a time and place to engage and grow with those around you offline – face to face. A great way to put your name out there and to build a reputation and trust in the community around you is to give back. Look for local events or fundraisers that you can get involved in. You can even host your own events and promotions.
For example, maybe host a workshop or form of education in your field of expertise, allow a certain percentage of your profits for the day to go to a charity, sponsor a youth athletic team or participate in a food drive. All of these ideas could get your name known in your local community. Building trust with your customers this way can go a long way to boosting your client base and future growth.
Get the Rest of the 9 Tips to Grow Your Business in this Free ebook
Business success means growing your small business and improving sales, processes and the customer experience each year. We created the ebook “9 Tips to Grow Your Small Business” to help in your success. You’ll get nine chapters of easy-to-follow growth strategies including the four above and how to maximize your customer base, considering winning government contracts and actively measuring success. Click here to download it now.