Igniting your company’s fire and giving it that much needed boost
By Brenda McWilliams-Piatek, Vice President Marketing and Communications, FedEx Express
Small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) are the backbone of the economy. It’s of paramount importance SMEs have access to advice and financial support to help drive their growth overseas, while continuing to contribute to propelling the economy forward. Having a cash injection, however large or small can make all the difference for even the most successful of small business to assist their own development and encourage their future prosperity.
To help identify where additional investment could help grow your business, we’ve put together a list of 10 areas to consider:
- Explore new markets. Taking the UK as an example, their population is just 0.88% of the global population1: there is literally a world of opportunity out there. Taking your company international is a fantastic means to boost your business and introduce your product or service to a broader customer base. While there are costs involved in purchasing a plane ticket to your destination, researching your target customers and marketing your product, it could be worth the investment. Financing thorough research in the countries you wish to enter as well as finding the right network for your business, could give you the confidence to take that next step for your business.
- Invest in public relations (PR). In many ways having your brand included in an editorial article can be 100 times more valuable and almost 90% more effective than advertising. As well as raising brand awareness, readers are more likely to take note of a business they read about than an overly promotional advertisement. That’s not to say advertising isn’t effective, however a strong PR campaign can help to spread the word while giving your brand more credibility, through verification by trusted third parties.
- Invest in infrastructure. As your business grows, your infrastructure may need to expand alongside. Whether renting a new office or larger warehouse, even purchasing new vehicles, machinery or technology, such as computers. Usually a reflection on how well your business is faring, investing in your business’ assets can support this growth.
- Hire “intrapreneurial” employees. You could think about hiring more “intrapreneurial” employees, individuals who have an entrepreneurial mind-set but work within a business. These individuals are invaluable for the future of your brand, whether providing new ideas or solutions, taking risks to solve a problem, or experimenting in order to drive the business forward – they could be the secret to your business’ success by driving growth at a quicker rate.
- Improve your search engine optimisation (SEO). The process of increasing the visibility of your business’ website on search engines, SEO is a business marketing tool that ranks your site –based on link backs from credible sites for example. The higher your website ranking, the more website traffic you may receive, so it’s worth investing in this concept. There are several ways to increase your ranking, however, arguably one of the more effective methods, is to create genuine, unique and interesting content. Not only does this help to improve your rankings but sharing your brand’s knowledge and expertise can help to increase your authority on a particular subject – allowing your business to contribute to the wealth of information available on the internet. As such, hiring an SEO expert can help to increase your business’ profile, adding to its potential future profitability and growth.
- Create a mobile friendly website. According to a global survey, it’s been reported that 45% of people used a mobile device to conduct their shopping. Despite this high number, the retail industry in the UK alone, is actually sacrificing £6.6billion per year as a result of a lack of investment in its mobile service. Investing in a mobile friendly website could help to improve your customer’s experience, increase sales and propel your business forward.
- Upskill your workforce. As your business expands, it’s important to make sure your employees have the skills and knowledge to support your business’ growth. Investing in additional training can help your business flourish, whether expanding into new areas, streamlining your services, or team building. Training is also a good means to retain staff as well as keep your employees motivated, lifting morale. However, it’s not just your employees you should consider upskilling but also yourself. As a business owner, you may find you have to work across a host of areas so going on a course or training programme can help you gain a thorough understanding of everything you may be involved with, helping you accelerate your business’ growth.
- Advertise on social media. A beneficial and cost effective means to grow your business, social media channels usually allow you to be very specific about who your advertisement targets, from their location to gender and age, allowing you to target more relevant groups. It was found nearly 80% of consumers would be more inclined to buy from a brand as a result of its presence on social media, so spending a little could potentially generate a lot of custom.
- Provide a range of customer service tools. In this digital age customers increasingly expect answers to their queries almost instantaneously. With so many channels to choose from including social media, email, phone, instant chat, a virtual assistant and many more, customers are connecting with companies in a variety of ways – as such, your business needs to ensure your customer service channels are constantly manned to make certain customer queries are dealt with quickly and efficiently. It’s therefore worth hiring a full time customer service representative to ensure your customer’s queries are dealt with giving you the time to develop the business. Doing so can help to encourage customer loyalty enabling your business to flourish.
- Develop a unique culture. As businesses increasingly move online this can sometimes take away the human touch, so think about how to better invest in your people. This doesn’t just relate to your customers and employees but also your distributors, suppliers and all those people who have a stake in your business. Taking your team out on a trip, celebrating their birthdays or organising customer events for example, can help emphasise that you value them, positively impacting on their brand loyalty. Ultimately, think about how you can strengthen your business’ relationships through its people, reinforcing your brand’s personality and giving your company a competitive edge while helping to enhance its employee engagement.
To maintain growth, it’s vital to evaluate the different areas within your business in order to propel forward. Putting in place small changes can determine your business’ future profitability and success, as well as allowing you to remain competitive in an expanding marketplace.
2 Forbes, 8 July 2014
3 Reuters, 8 June 2015
4 Econsultancy, 8 June 2015
5 The Guardian, 23 June 2014