The dawn of the digital age marked a new age in business. For example, the Internet gave marketers a new way to promote their company’s products or services to customers. It also gave brands new opportunities to earn additional revenue through online sales. While big brands have large-scale eCommerce sites and digital marketing campaigns, many smaller firms have yet to fully exploit these new innovations – which means that they aren’t growing as much as they could/should.
Here are five tips on how to grow your small business in the digital age.
1. Hire people to help your brand grow
While it’s possible to grow your venture by yourself, doing so is a long, painfully slow process. Since you don’t likely want that, you should organize a team that will help you execute a solid growth strategy.
For instance, hiring a virtual assistant can free you up from doing mundane tasks. Instead, you can spend your time on more profitable endeavors like planning and implementing your promotional strategy.
Virtual assistants offer a vast array of services:
• Appointment setting
• Content creation
• Invoicing customers
• Managing correspondence with customers and suppliers
• Market research
While all of these tasks are critical to the success of your small business, they don’t all have to be done by you. Therefore, figure out which tasks you should outsource to someone else to complete and which ones you should be focusing on to grow your startup.
2. Fund growth with creative funding sources
A growing business will need capital to fund its growth. In addition to traditional sources – like business loans and selling equity – there are a number of creative funding sources that can provide the needed capital to fund your growth strategy.
• Crowdfunding: Offering investors a perk related to your company (like a free product) in exchange for money.
• Factoring: Selling your accounts receivables to a financial firm known as a “factor” that will pay you money upfront in exchange for your future revenue from the receivables.
• Supplier financing: Finding a supplier that is willing to fund your inventory with consignment products or in-kind inventory.
• Tapping your 401(l) or IRA: Borrowing a short-term, interest-free business loan against your retirement savings.
You can learn more about these creative funding sources online, as well as by talking to a financial consultant.
3. Focus on eCommerce
While eCommerce first emerged back in the 1990s, there are still a lot of small businesses that haven’t taken advantage of selling online. Unfortunately, these entrepreneurs are missing out on growth opportunities.
If your company doesn’t have an eCommerce site, then it’s time to set one up. You will never be able to compete against other brands – let alone grow your own brand – without a way to generate online sales for your business.
Here is a brief overview of the four steps needed to set up an eCommerce site:
1. Decide what products you want to sell online.
2. Create an online store.
3. Get a merchant account from a payment processor like PayPal, Stripe, or Square.
4. Promote your brand to your target market.
4. Encourage word-of-click advertising
Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the best forms of advertising that exists and one of the best ways to grow your small business. However, in the digital world, that’s known as word-of-click advertising. Furthermore, it can be marketing gold.
The following are a few examples of word-of-click advertising:
• A Facebook follower shares your post
• A Twitter follower retweets your tweet
• A visitor comments on your blog post
• An email subscriber forwards your newsletter
What’s the secret to encouraging word-of-click advertising? Creating great content that your audience loves and wants to share with others.
5. Create multiple revenue streams
Can you imagine if Amazon only sold one product category? Therefore, does it make sense for your small business to only sell one product category if your goal is to grow? Not in the digital age.
That’s why you need to create multiple revenue streams to help grow your small business. Furthermore, having more than one income stream can protect your company’s overall profitability should one product category experience a decline in sales.
In short, the above-mentioned ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to growing your brand in the digital age. In addition to hiring people to help you grow, you need to make sure that they are the right people for the right jobs. Ensure that you have a way to fund your growth so that it will be sustainable. Make sure that you have a good eCommerce site, as it will likely generate most of your sales in the future. Post lots of high-quality, engaging content that your audience will want to share with others on social media. Create additional income streams to diversify your company’s revenue sources and you’ll be sure to grow your small business.