Rarely do the things we set out to accomplish in this life remain exactly the same as when we first set out to do it. Growth is inevitable—we just want it to be the good kind.
When it comes to small business life and deciding whether or not to remain the same or scale, there are a lot of factors involved before charting a new course. Often, small business owners need to ask themselves whether it’s time to grow. Even if it is, how do you know? And what are the tools you’ll need to get through it?
Not only that, any type of business—from small to IPO—considers the financial factors involved. Is the investment worth it?
Ahead, we’ll give you the inside scoop on all things related to small business growth, including a few very important tools you can use to actually grow your business without having to spend a small fortune.
Why would you want to grow your small business?
The definition of success is very different for every business, and the outcome even more so. One business may have revenue goals as its success marker, while another may see community impact as its key achievement.
The success of your small business is a key sign that you might want to grow your business. Of course, there are other factors that also go into that decision. Why you’d want to grow your small business at all comes down to very similar basics: demand, profit, longevity.
If you have customers coming to your business for a specific product or service, but you find that you’re unable to meet an increase in demand, you may consider growth to accommodate.
This could look like growing physical space, like retail, or increasing the amount of product you need to have on hand to sell to customers. It could also look like hiring more employees to accommodate an influx of buyers. Perhaps the idea of satisfying your current customer base, while knowing you’re able to reach new customers, is enough for you.
Hand-in-hand with demand is profit. Small businesses reaching profit or exceeding profit goals may want to alter those goals to accommodate. If a business knows that it can easily reach such profit goals, then it may be time to consider expansion to see if they can grow even more.
Most, not not all small businesses may want to be around for a long time. Think a mom-and-pop shop with no one to pass it down to: they may want to sell the business when they reach a certain age, but they don’t have the energy or know-how into building it more for a bigger sale.
How long you want your business to exist, particularly at each phase of growth or for customer demand, becomes a key factor in conversations around scaling and expansion.
Is your small business ready for the growth phase?
Running a small business can keep you busy enough. Trying to figure out if you’re ready to grow while doing all of that may seem like a lot.
We’ve got you covered. Here, we’ve broken down key factors for you to use as a checklist for your business’s growth readiness.
Hiring additional employees and keeping your business efficiently staffed is a clear indication that your small business is ready for its growth. How much your team has grown is dependent on your business. If you were a business of one, and now you need at least four or five of you to manage day-to-day operations— and still you could use more—that’s a significant increase signaling that it may be time for overall growth.
Unable to handle demand
Have you found an increase in customer demand for what your business offers, but you can’t accommodate everyone, leaving them frustrated or bummed out? Customer satisfaction is a massive part of any business, and having them leave out of disappointment isn’t ideal.
Being in this position is helpful because you know that buyers are there, and they want to be part of what you sell. Let this guide you towards preparing for growing the business.
Lots of cash and financial stability
Increased revenue is always going to be the clearest numerical indicator your business is ready to grow. Having a lot of extra cash isn’t the best reason to grow—it also comes down to other financial factors because growth does involve spending some (or at least more) money.
Meeting or exceeding existing business goals
Profit will tell you that you’re meeting your business goals (or not.) With an increase in cash revenue into your business, you may be meeting or exceeding the business goals you first set out with when you began your path of entrepreneurship.
Business goals evolve over time in any case. Look for patterns in your goals, where they are being met or exceeded, and take note of how adjusting them in pursuit of overall growth impacts other parts of the business.
Outgrowing space or resources
If you’ve ever been in a packed stockroom with no place to even think, consider this in your growth checklist. All of these aforementioned factors from demand to profit to team growth will impact how much product you’re bringing in and if you are resourced enough to fulfill customer needs.
You know you’re ready
There’s nothing quite like good ol’ intuition to guide you in this life—and business. Follow that same impulse that began as a thought or a need to start a business. A similar feeling or sentiment may arise when it comes to growth. When you’re ready to grow, you’ll know.
10 ways to affordably grow your business
Alright: you’re ready to grow your business. You’ve got the customers, your team is ready to support you, and you’ve done the math. But there’s one thing lingering in the back of your mind: do you really need to spend a fortune to grow your business?
Business growth doesn’t need to hinge on using capital or your financial resources. There are a lot of ways to effectively grow your business with your existing infrastructure and not make your bank account sad.
Below are 10 tips to consider for affordably and smartly growing your business.
1. Start with a business plan for growth
There are a lot of tips from here on out that you can use to grow your business. But does that mean you should use all of them? Of course not. Small business growth depends on a specific set of factors for each business. Trying everything could mean you end up with nothing.
Start at the beginning: create a business plan for your intended growth. Go back to your original business plan, with your original business goals, and draft a side-by-side comparison list of where you were and what you need to do for where you want to go.
Strategy is crucial for growth execution. Without knowing what you want for business growth, you could end up testing or iterating in a way that counters the growth goals of your business.
2. Do your research
Make informed decisions on the shape of your business’s growth. Do an abundance of research. Read articles, listen to podcasts, look up trend forecasts for your industry or the year ahead, talk to business owners who were in a similar position. Reaching out to your community of small business owners is a great way to find any blind spots in growth spending. Some may have unfortunately gone through that, but can be a great guide for you to avoid.
Data collection is extremely helpful in order to make sure you’re not spending too much on growth if you don’t need to.
3. Nurture your existing clients and customer base
Keeping your existing customers and clients happy is the easiest way to grow your business without spending a lot of money. Retention is often underrated when pursuing growth. You don’t need to leave behind those who supported you from the start while courting new buyers or clients.
Nurture your customers and clients at all touchpoints as a low-cost way to help your business grow.
4. Use social media
Every business needs to have some kind of social media presence. It’s simply the way of the world now! How you use social media, on the other hand, is another thing.
Businesses can create their own content and tap into the engagement side of social media for brand awareness, product information, and customer service. And you really don’t need to drop any money on being able to effectively and efficiently respond to customers on Instagram.
This is one of the simplest and most cost-effective methods of growing your brand. There are tools that, if you’re ready to later on, can help with social media growth but for the most part you can do it all through organic traffic on your own.
Be responsive, creative, and post often to keep customers engaged online.
5. Automate task and time-consuming processes
Can you replace time spent doing manual tasks with automation? Imagine freeing up your time, or another employee’s, by automating some of the most grueling, time-consuming to-do items in your schedule.
Investing in technologies and systems that can free up your time elsewhere, saving money in one area, will definitely help in your growth efforts. Think about all that you could do if you had a tool like Homebase to schedule your employees’ shifts for you, keep track of their hours for wages and pay, and file taxes on your behalf.
There are a number of tools available for small businesses that are growth-friendly and won’t break the bank.
6. Consider strategic partnerships with other business owners and influencers
Strategic partnerships are one of the easiest ways to help grow your business, and reach new customers or clients, is to partner with other business owners, or even influencers.
Do your research on businesses or individuals in your industry that might want to be part of your partnership. Reach out to influencers on social media if you think they would be a great brand ambassador for your product or business.
7. Incentivize customer referrals
Let your customers be your greatest brand ambassadors. Happy customers will tell other people about why your business rules. You can even incentivize them by providing small discounts on their next purchase if they refer someone to your business.
8. Invest in corporate social responsibility and sustainability
Today’s buyers are very invested in corporate social responsibilities and sustainability. For example, in a joint McKinsey and NielsenIQ study on sustainability claims, businesses with such claims had a 28% growth over the past five years versus those that didn’t. If you show that you’re also invested in these issues, this can help your business’s growth.
Your business may not be at the stage to invest in these in a big, financial way, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help your community or the planet at-large. Become a spot for donations for clothing to take to a secondhand shop or food for unhoused folks that you take to another community spot. Encourage your customers to bring reusable bags, and have those available to buy if they don’t have one on hand.
These small steps toward sustainable living can have a big impact on your customers, and how your business grows.
9. Deliver superior customer or client service
It usually goes without saying that customer or client service is the key to a business’s survival but we’re going to make a point of it here. Your customers are your greatest advocates. Word-of-mouth support is still very crucial.
Make customer or client service a priority for you and your employees. This often means using soft skills, and creating a personalized, special experience for your customers. No money needs to be involved to ensure you’re meeting your customers’ needs.
10. Measure success of your business plan often
Go back to the beginning—again. Look at your growth business plan often. Ensure you have the right benchmarks for growth and see if you’re meeting them, or where you may be falling short. If you’ve freed up time in other parts of your business, without spending any money to do so, this is another cost-effective way to stay on top of your growth.
What tools do you need to grow your small business?
Homebase is the perfect tool to help you grow your small business. Built for small business needs, Homebase has you covered to help you automate tasks, scheduling, payroll, compliance, and more—freeing up your time for other business growth tasks.
Homebase integrates with other tools like payroll software, POS, job boards, and more.
Connect to your employees with ease, and manage all things HR and compliance related with efficiency. Your administrative tasks don’t need to bog your efforts for growth. Manage new employees with streamlined hiring, onboarding, and scheduling. Keep teams happy with perks, so they can keep your customers happy. Try Homebase today.
How to grow your small business FAQs
What are indicators that your business is ready to expand?
Some of the best indicators your business is ready to grow include: team expansion and hiring, increased profits and customer demand, meeting or exceeding business goals, and outpacing your resources.
Do you need to open a second location to grow your small business?
You don’t necessarily need to open a second location to grow your business. While opening a second location can sometimes increase your sales and growth, it isn’t always a surefire way to grow, since it also comes with increased spends like rent, staffing, etc.
It’s a good idea to do your research and build a business plan for opening another location to see if the pros—and the costs—outweigh the cons.
How much does it cost to expand a small business?
It doesn’t have to cost much money at all to grow your small business. With effective strategies, automations, and talking to the right people, you can keep costs low for small business expansion.
Are there tools to help grow your small business?
Homebase is a great tool to help grow your small business. Your administrative tasks shouldn’t hinder efforts for growth, and Homebase makes it easy. Manage new employees with streamlined hiring, onboarding, and scheduling. Plus, keep teams happy with perks, so they can keep your customers happy