How to grow a start-up business – fast

How to grow a start-up business – fast

I have an enduring interest in the world of start-ups and business growth, having grown a start-up into a multi-national success story and 15 years’ experience in investment management.

How best to scale up and grow a start-up business swiftly but successfully is one of the biggest challenges facing every entrepreneur. How do you keep it running smoothly, ensure checks and balances are met while ensuring cashflow, revenue streams and business opportunities are explored?

11 strategies to grow a start-up – fast

Scaling a business is hard work. I’m not going to gloss over the sheer amount of dedication, tenacity and effort it takes. And, particularly at the beginning, it can mean playing all of the roles in your business yourself – from dealing with taxes, compliance, and regulations to sales, marketing and customer liaison. But all of this hard work is definitely worth it.

There are myriad business growth strategies available for you to pour over, from free online advice to training courses and qualifications. But if you’re short on time, big on ambition and need to cut to the chase, these 11 steps will be invaluable to you.

These are core strategies to fundamentally alter your business and increase your bottom line. They all take time and dedication, but if you look ahead to the long-term success of your business, these act as a solid foundation.

      1. Create a multi-step sales funnel

A key concept for digital marketing, a sales funnel can mean the difference between failing to get off the ground to building a hugely successful company quickly. A sales funnel is simply a step-by-step plan to attract customers and convert to sales.

A successful sales funnel will herd casual browsers into buyers, by taking them through the steps necessary to make them want to complete a purchase. A sales funnel can automate your business and help it scale quickly. The work is at the front end, but once it’s in place, you’ll reap the benefits. Each sales funnel should be carefully thought about, planned and conceptualised before it launches. This will help you get the most out of it.

Exactly what your sales funnel will look like depends on your industry, strategy and product. This guide from Forbes is a helpful start, but the steps are only a guide. If you apply the sales funnel approach to your business, this helps to show you the kind of content that will work for you.

      1. Use a recognised and efficient CRM (customer relationship management) system

The days of manually tracking sales and transactions are long gone. As a business grows, it becomes more difficult to manage and too easy to miss important transactions. To grow fast, you need a decent CRM. There are many products available, and the right one for you depends on your business sector and needs.

If you’re beginning to build up your sales processes, or you’re changing from an old system, always first consider what you need right now. While extra features may be tempting, if you don’t need them then don’t waste money on them. It’s about what’s best for your budget. You should choose a system that includes the following as a minimum, these features are essential to build a solid sales foundation:

      • Contact management – there should always a feature to enable extensive contact management. You need much more than a list of data, and the CRM should offer a number of solutions to group, filter, search and communicate with contacts.
      • Pipeline management – this saves time and energy and is always accurate. A CRM with pipeline management can show exactly what your forecast every month. It’s a visualisation of the sales funnel mentioned above and shows you how to go from one stage to the next.

 

Analytics and reporting – you need a top-level view of how the whole company is doing, and how your team are faring individually. Comprehensive analytics will do this and will also help with forecasting.

      1. Fully understand your competition

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many entrepreneurs miss this step in their excitement at getting their idea off the ground. Before taking your product to market, you need to know where it fits in. And you need to know your competitors.

There are various platforms available that can help you with this, including Similar Web, which provides competitive market intelligence using data from websites, apps and landing pages. Search out the successful ads and learn why they’re working. Emulate these and you can scale your business quickly. After all, if it’s already working for someone else, it can work for you.

      1. Consider a customer loyalty scheme

Research shows that it costs around three times more money to find new customers than it does to sell to the ones you already have. However, some resources claim this figure is up to ten times more. Either way, it definitely costs you more to seek out new customers than to cultivate existing ones.

One of the ways to sell more to existing customers is to include a customer loyalty scheme in your plans. If it works well, it might also attract new people too.

Nike is a great example of a company that fully understands its customers and rewards them with an omnichannel loyalty scheme. By integrating their digital loyalty programme to cover in-store and online shopping, they have more chance of retaining customers for repeat purchases. For example, the Nike app can do everything from scanning the customer’s foot to find the ideal size, to allowing customers to use their phones to find a shoe they’ve seen online in store.

      1. Always seek new opportunities

Do you fully understand your demographic? Are you always on the lookout for more? You must take the time to learn about everything from your direct competition to the best distribution channels.

Analysis of overseas markets, local markets and everything in between could show you something you’ve missed or demonstrate a viable chance to pivot your business. Listen to your existing customers, past leads and potential customers. Always listen to the way people talk about any frustrations they have within your sector.

Actively research your competitors – are they doing something different to you? Is it something you can repurpose for your business? If they have the edge, make it your mission to find out why. Industry trends and insights should also be considered.

      1. Look for strategic partnerships

Linking or partnering with other companies at the right time can be the difference between long-term success and getting to your goals quicker. If you play your cards right and form strategic partnerships in the right way, you could find easy access to a whole load of new customers. However, it takes time and effort to identify the best partnerships for your business, and to build them. When you have identified strategic partnerships, contact the companies directly and offer targeted opportunities that will benefit you both.

      1. Ensure that you’re utilising the strength of existing global platforms

Start-up e-commerce businesses should be hooking into Amazon’s Fulfilment by Amazon system (FBA). Those selling services could try using Upwork to find freelancers, advertise for staff or hire quality contractors.

Whatever your sector, there’s going to be a global platform available that will help you streamline your business, speed up sales, find partners, contractors and employees or help in another way.

      1. Check if you can you do any licensing deals

Licensing deals are an excellent way to scale your business with minimal effort. If your product could feasibly be licensed to other sellers, giving you a share of the revenue, this is a great way to speed up growth.

      1. Think about franchising your business

It depends on your product and plans, but if your business is successful, you could think about franchising it for growth. However, be warned that moving to this model is expensive and needs a lot of strategic marketing ‘know-how’. But, if you’re the right person for that, then you could achieve growth much faster.

      1. Diversify your offerings

If you have a great product or service that has helped you grow to a certain extent, but you want to expand, then diversify. Think about any complementary services, products or add-ons you can offer. What else can you sell to existing customers? Which niches can you fill? Look for any way to add value to the transactions you already have.

      1. Look at making acquisitions

Sometimes, the fastest way to grow is to acquire other businesses. This is obviously an option only if you have the financial backing, but if you can find businesses in other industries or direct competitors that could complement yours, this is a potential opportunity for growth.

About William Fielding and the Whiskey & Wealth Club

William Fielding is the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of the Whiskey & Wealth Club, an alternative investment company that connects individual investors with authentic and premium Irish and Scottish whiskey distilleries. The distilleries make casks of new spirit available to Whiskey & Wealth Club at a wholesale rate that Whiskey & Wealth Club then releases to private investors at a significantly discounted rate.

Whiskey & Wealth Club manages storage and insurance for five years as standard, allowing the whiskey to mature in maintained, bonded warehouses. Investors can then decide when is best for them to sell their mature whiskey or bottle to enjoy themselves.