Google started in a garage. Amazon, which wasn’t profitable for 14 years, started as an online marketplace for books—and we all know what it’s become since. McDonald’s started as a single restaurant in San Bernardino, California. The list goes on.
Every big business starts as a small one. By getting into business for the right reasons, forming a strong business development plan and sticking to it, hiring the right people, and staying the course, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful business empire before you know it.
What are the most successful small businesses?
At the end of the day, the success of a small business relies on a confluence of factors. Not only does the business need to solve a specific need—whether that’s tax preparation, landscaping, or marketing functions—it also needs to provide exceptional services at agreeable price points.
To increase the chances you get the results you’re hoping for, find your niche, and try to build a business that you’re absolutely passionate about.
By doing so, you’ll be solving a very pressing need. Plus, your enthusiasm will permeate through all that you do, and your team will feed off of that energy.
What is the first thing to do when starting a business?
When you start a small business, you need to conduct market research to make sure your idea is worth pursuing. You also have to pick a name, figure out pricing, and take care of legal requirements—like forming an LLC, securing requisite certifications, and obtaining whatever insurance your business requires.
Since your business will only be as strong as the people that work for it, you need to make sure that you hire the right team. Do your due diligence, thoroughly vet candidates, and pay them well—perhaps even more than what competitors are paying, if you can.
When it comes from growing a small business into a big one, all of the above is table stakes—just enough to get you started.
If your goal is to create a small business that will one day be massive, you first need to develop a marketing strategy that helps you increase brand awareness, engage your audience, and attract new customers. With the right approach, it’s possible to build an incredible following that’s with you for years to come.
After all, you can’t just open your doors for the first time and expect customers to come flocking in. Whatever the nature of your business is, you’ll need an effective marketing strategy to take it to the next level—and certainly to realize its full potential.
As you begin to put your marketing strategy together to grow your small business, it’s important to understand the four proven strategies that lead to organic business growth.
What are the four small business growth strategies?
As every small business owner knows too well, it’s pretty much impossible to knock it out of the park on the first day.
When you’re first starting out, it’s all about figuring out how to bring in more money than you’re dishing out to keep the lights on. But once you’ve conquered the first year and see your financial situation improve, chances are you’ll want to figure out how to do even better moving forward.
With that in mind, here are four strategies for organic business growth.
1. Product development
When Coca-Cola was just starting out, the company had a single product: a tasty sugary water drink we all know as Coke.
Fast-forward to today, and the company now sells over 500 brands of beverages and, at the time of this writing, boasts a market cap in excess of $232 billion.
As you begin to think about taking your business to the next level, it’s worth considering whether your business can grow its bottom line by developing new products.
At the beginning of this article, we talked about the genesis of Google, Amazon, and McDonalds. Over time, all three of those companies have developed a considerable amount of products that serve the same market, which has helped them grow into the juggernauts they are today.
2. Market development
Another way to grow your small business into a larger one is by doing whatever you can to tap into new markets. Just like Amazon moved from books to literally everything else, your business can begin targeting a whole new market of customers.
For example, a successful restaurant owner might decide to open a second location in another town to tap into a new customer base. Or, they might even opt to open up a food truck business to cater to mobile clientele.
When it boils down to it, market development is all about spreading your wings and trying to sell your products or services into a wider geography or category of consumers.
For example, a painting business might expand to the next county and a residential landscaper might try to land commercial accounts.
You know your business better than anyone else does. Spend some time thinking about the additional markets your company may be able to tap into, and act on your findings.
3. Market penetration
For argument’s sake, let’s say you’re launching a new barber shop.
One of the easiest ways to grow a business from the outset is by embracing the market penetration strategy—pricing your products or services aggressively low to entice customers to give your business a shot.
If your competitor charges $30 for a haircut, you charge $18, and you will price-conscious shoppers.
The thinking, here, is straightforward: Take customers away from your competitors with attractive prices.
Of course, once you’ve established your brand, you can gradually increase your prices to get them back to whatever the market commands.
Curious what market penetration looks like in action? Amazon once took a $200 million loss on diapers to prevent a startup rival from capturing digital market share!
Sometimes, supercharging your business growth requires drastic measures. And that’s where the diversification strategy enters the mix.
At is core, diversification is about designing new products for a new market. It’s about reinventing the wheel entirely—and hoping that your pivot is successful.
One of the most popular examples of the diversification strategy is Nokia, a Finnish conglomerate that started out as a paper mill and has since pivoted to network equipment, mobile radios, mobile phones, and personal computers. Learn more about Nokia’s evolution.
Now that you’re familiar with the four different strategies for business growth, it’s time to pick the one that makes sense for your unique circumstances.
But picking a strategy isn’t the end all be all. To get the results you’re looking for, you need to execute on it successfully.
Up next, we’ll examine some tips to keep in mind as you begin growing your small business into an enormous one.
Tips to keep in mind as you focus on business growth
As they say, it takes 20 years of hard work to become an overnight success.
While you can’t snap your fingers and will succeed into existence, you can develop a framework that significantly increases the chances you achieve your goals.
With that in mind, here are three tips to keep in mind as you scale your idea into a fully baked organization.
Get feedback from the people who matter most
There’s a reason we all know the saying that tells us the customer is always right: They are.
One of the best ways to generate organic business growth is by regularly soliciting feedback from your customers—and implementing the best of their ideas.
Not only does this help you refine your offerings to meet customer expectations, it also engages your base by showing them that you’re not only interested in what they have to say—but you’re actually paying attention.
Collect feedback at regular intervals, and your business will be in a much stronger position because of it. It’s that simple.
Have a financing option in place
There comes a time in the life of every small business when an extra injection of cash is necessary.
In some situations, you might need money to cover operating expenses after some unexpected event derailed your plans (e.g., COVID-19). In others, you might want some extra cash to invest in growth opportunities.
Whatever the case may be, growth-oriented small business owners need to have fast access to cash on standby. That way, when the circumstances warrant it, they will be able to quickly get the money they need to make the next move.
If you’re thinking about starting a new business and imagine you might need an extra cash infusion at some point in the future, you may want to look into SBA loans.
At the same time, you might also want to secure a business line of credit. By doing so, you’ll have access to a revolving credit line you can tap into on an as-needed basis. Replenish the credit line as funds come in to stay in good standing, and draw against it only when you need to.
Ready to grow your business?
Consider strategic partnerships
There’s no rule that says you have to grow your business on your own.
By forming a strategic partnership—think: Barnes and Noble and Starbucks—you can bring your products or services in front of more customers in a mutually beneficial way.
For example, if you run a carpentry business, you might decide to join forces with an electrician. Each of you could recommend the other as jobs pop up, and so forth. And, of course, you could work together on projects that required both skills.
Other small business strategic partnerships could include a restaurant partnering with a local brewery to sell beer with their meals, a copywriting agency partnering with a graphic design studio for content marketing collaboration, and nursery partnering with a landscaping company to be the exclusive provider of plants, shrubs, and trees for every job.
Ready to take your small business to the next level?
Growing a small business into a big one isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible either.
By crafting a robust marketing strategy, investing in business development, and figuring out which growth strategy to pursue, you’ll be well on your way toward accomplishing your objectives and taking your company where you want it to be.