What does it mean for your business to have exponential growth? Rather than being happy with the status quo and having a flat rate of revenue, you seek rising profits and changes that take your company to the next level.
Exponential growth can certainly pertain to your income, but it can also be measured for productivity, customer satisfaction and many other factors helping your business find success in the long-term. Growth applies to everything from adding additional buyer personas to selling more to the customers you already have. You may also need to grow your company culture, grow your employees’ knowledge and grow your earning potential through automation and additional product development.
A recent survey showed around 60% of small business owners expect a revenue increase this year. Economic confidence is higher than at the beginning of the pandemic. Outlook remains positive as companies struggling to survive see their customers slowly returning and things opening back up. Although uncertainty remains, it’s a good time to ramp up your efforts and bring in new customers.
As more of the world gets vaccinated and the threat of COVID-19 recedes, expect a global rebound. People are tired of sitting at home and prepared to get back to life as they knew it pre-pandemic. Are you ready for potential exponential growth from hungry consumers? Here are some areas to look at and ensure you’re prepared to meet demand.
#1. Uncover Bottlenecks
As your business grows, the number of customers waiting for service grows. You must identify places within your process where work backs up. You can’t effectively handle more clients without fixing these issues or you’ll wind up aggravating the ones you already have and losing them.
Do an audit of your operations, including how long each step in your logistics process takes. Pay attention to slowdowns such as orders backing up before getting shipped out or lack of inventory. Any place work slows is a potential bottleneck. Seek processes to keep things flowing.
#2. Perfect Your Accounting
More business means more money moving in and out of your company. If you don’t have a solid system for tracking profits and expenses, you risk mistakes. Are there any issues with your current accounting software?
Consider whether you nee to hire someone to handle some or all of the work. There are increasing industry regulations as consumers insist on transparency. Older software may not be able to handle the requirements. Look for options to handle your recordkeeping as you grow and not merely what you need today.
#3. Check E-commerce Compatibility
E-commerce grew far beyond expectations in 2020 thanks to more people staying at home and looking for ways to social distance and still shop. Businesses that hadn’t considered a digital storefront found they could tap into the online marketplace and still serve customers.
For example, even a doctor’s office might add a website and allow patients to make an appointment online as well as confirm the time and day and receive reminders. Restaurants let customers order from an online menu and pick up curbside.
Customers got used to the convenience of ordering with a few clicks of a mouse. They aren’t likely to give up the ease of online ordering anytime soon. Look for ways to automate orders and ease the process and clients are more likely to throw business your way.
#4. Ask for Customer Feedback
You can’t grow if you don’t change and adapt. Your best source for improvement is asking customers where you’re weak. Start by looking at complaints you’ve received. Are there ongoing issues with your product or service you can fix proactively?
Next, spend time going over any negative online reviews or social media complaints. What do your customers say about you to others? Reach out to those who aren’t happy and try to rectify the situation. Not only will you turn a bad situation around, but others will see your efforts and be more likely to give your company a chance.
#5. Embrace New Technology
Thanks to changes from the pandemic, one area where businesses grew beyond what they even thought possible was in embracing technology. Executives state they moved as much as 25 times faster than they’d expected in building supply-chain improvements, improving digital security and utilizing technology in daily operations.
No matter what type of product you sell, you can speed up the process through automation. For example, if you sell donuts, you can add a machine that mixes the dough rather than doing it by hand. You could either hand roll and press the pastries or use automation to spit out 1,000s of donuts an hour.
#6. Write Out a Plan
Companies with a written business plan tend to achieve their goals much faster than those that fly by the seat of their pants. If you want to see exponential growth, write out what the process looks like for your brand.
Take the time to project numbers you’d like to reach and brainstorm any potential issues achieving those objectives. Ask your top employees to jump in and offer suggestions for overcoming obstacles.
At the same time, don’t feel pigeonholed by a written plan. If something isn’t working, lose it and try a different approach.
#7. Balance Automation with Humans
Automation is a great way to ramp up productivity and churn out more product. Unfortunately, machines aren’t 100% without error. Add a human to check things over and for the personalization factor. A computer might think greeting someone with the words “Hey, Hello, Hiya” sounds good, but a human knows too many greetings sound goofy.
Think about what makes your business stand out from your competitors. If you personalize each interaction, don’t just rely on computers to do all the work. Put in some checks and balances and human supervisors to ensure things run smoothly even when going fast.
#8. Keep and Attract Excellent Staff
The daily stress of employees rose to 43% during the pandemic. Rising expectations, worries over safety and inflation versus wages all contribute to worries workers have. Your staff is much more likely to move to another job than face the prospect of begging for a raise.
Workers want good wages, excellent benefits, appreciation and opportunities for advancement. Even small companies find they have to offer more than in the past or risk employees leaving for other positions. In some areas, local factories pay as much or more than desk jobs, so the threat of staffing issues is real for nearly every sector.
Work to create a company culture valuing your employees. Offer perks no one else does. You can’t grow your brand if you don’t have the staff to fulfill orders and give customers the one-on-one attention they deserve. Make attracting and keeping top candidates a priority in your growth strategy.
#9. Improve Your Supply Chain
As your business scales up, your supply chain becomes more important than ever before. If you don’t keep inventory flowing in, you risk unhappy customers who have to wait months for order fulfillment.
Take the time to reach out to your suppliers and shipping company and chat a bit about your growth projections for the next few years. Can they handle the increase in demand? How can you automate supply to ensure you always have what you need when you need it?
What if you have a rush order for a big event or a sudden big box order? How will they help you meet the influx of new demand?
The methods they use to ship items to you are equally important. If you order from overseas, how can you ensure things don’t get delayed at customers for months on end? Look at every step in your supply chain and make improvements now so little issues don’t turn into massive issues as you grow.
#10. Expand on Marketing Success
If you want to see the beautiful upward exponential curve on your growth chart, you must look at what marketing efforts work well and repeat them. On the opposite side, you should cut things that aren’t serving your goals.
Digital marketing is perhaps the most inexpensive and effective way to reach new customers. Utilize the fans you already have to reach more people like them. Facebook lets you tap into like audiences. People who already follow you and share your posts are a good example of the type of audience you want.
Engage those you already have, invite their friends via contests, interesting posts and interactions. Then, seek out advertising that targets similar buyers. With a little effort and investment, you’ll have a nice following of users who can help spur your business to any level you wish.
Don’t be afraid to set significant growth goals and go for them. If something isn’t working, lose it and try a different tactic. Exponential growth isn’t always a smooth curve. You may see some dips and peaks along the way.
However, if you set objectives and focus on them throughout your journey, you’ll see an uptick in your revenue over time. Even though the end-goal might be a dollar amount, many factors go into exponential growth that have nothing to do with money. Pay attention to the little things and turn them into big successes.
About the Author!
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.