For the small business owner, the plan is always about making the largest splash with the smallest rock, that is to say keeping a small overhead, while gaining a strong business standing and stable, incremental sales.
However, more often than not, small businesses just survive, rather than thrive and grow. So how does one go about making their small business go from an obscure dime-a-dozen, to one with repeat customers, stable income, and continued growth?

In her article in Small Business Always (this link has been sadly removed, but we have found a similar source here: small business owner Caron Beesley gives us some lessons learned from her small business development. Though not exhaustive, she builds us a solid framework, and we get to fill in the details specific to our business.

Her first point, which may be the most important, is that we need to build not just a business, but a brand. This encompasses more than just a logo and a product; it’s how you treat customers, how you decide the business practices that are important to you, how you treat your employees, how you interact with your customers, etc. You must think about your business holistically; how does your business relate to the world, as a whole? Why do they come to you, instead of the next company in the Google search?

Next, Beesley emphasizes the importance of being a little bit different from the crowd. Stand out…if consumers can get your product from other retailers, why will they take notice of you? What can you do that differentiates you from the others?
Along with being different, you need to be bringing quality products or services to market. In our current age, businesses live and die by reviews…whether that’s by word of mouth, social media, Better Business Bureau, or any other outlet. If you’re either 1) offering a sub-standard product to the market or 2) making claims about your product quality that you can’t back up, it’s going to bite you, hard, in the wallet. Do the work to provide quality products/services, and you’ll find yourself a stable business quicker than you’d expect.

Another point she makes is that you should be a brand ambassador for your own business, not just a really good salesman. If you’re excited about what you’ve got going on, that’s going to be infectious. If you’re simply trying to make the next sale, you will eventually burn out, lose the business of your customers, and then potentially lose your business altogether. That is not a fun road to wander down. Believe in your brand!

Similar to being an advocate for your own product, you should build a community around what you do; some brands fade away because they live in a vacuum, assuming they are sustainable. Without a community, without a following…call it brand loyalty…when hard times come along, you may not have the base of support you need to keep afloat. When good times are happening, a community can bolster sales, build brand awareness, and bring all kinds of opportunity to expand and grow.

Finally, and I think this is one of her most important points: Be reliable! If you say you can do something, make sure you do it. Make sure customers get the same service each time…if you can personalize your customers, you’ll stay reliable, and if you stay reliable, you’ll continue to grow.

Caron Beesley has a few more great points, so we recommend you take a few minutes to check out her article. Hopefully you will step away with a few more ideas about how to get your business to continue to grow, expand and become a brand you envision!