Building Your Business
To build a business you have to be good at marketing yourself, your experience and your skills. This requires a mix of strategies - some traditional, some innovative. Here are some suggestions that can help.
Define your vision
To know what you have to offer, determine the unique qualities you can attribute to your business and yourself. Look at the type of business you have, your experience in the industry, your position in the market, the special knowledge of your team members, and the business location. These are the elements of what you have to 'sell' to customers - existing and new.
Clearly articulate the long-term view that you hold for your business. Don't allow yourself to be focused on short-term needs or personal ambition.
Involve others in your planning and be open to their ideas. Talk to your team members and your customers for some fresh insights and ideas.
Establish your brand
Now that you know what you have to offer customers and where you want to be in the long-term, you can begin to market your business and make it grow in a structured way.
Develop your 'brand' - a logo, a corporate look, perhaps even a slogan. Be visually unique and have a style that represents what you are and where you're going. Carry this through into a corporate brochure and a website.
Get more business from your existing customers
It's always easier to sell more to an existing customer than to create a new customer. Ensure all your team members know the complete range of products and value adds you offer so that nobody misses an onselling opportunity with a customer.
Take some time in your team meetings to develop and introduce new products and services you would like to promote to your customers. Tell your team how to spot potential opportunities and create awareness with customers.
Ensure that you regularly raise awareness of your products and services among your existing clients through direct mailouts and email newsletters. Keep in regular touch with customers and don't give them a reason to look elsewhere.
Go after new customers
Look for opportunities to promote yourself and your business to potential customers. Get involved in local business and social groups. Offer your services as a speaker, or organizer. Spend time, not money, and become a part of your community. (This also helps with your existing customers, of course.)
Approach local newspapers about providing an advisory column in your areas of expertise. Offer to answer readers' questions on your industry. Become recognized as a source of information.
People like to buy from someone they know. For most small to medium-sized enterprises there's no better way to build a business than by marketing yourself. Define your vision, establish your brand, then go out there and get the customers!