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Growing your business checklist

To assist your business’s growth we’ve compiled a checklist of actions that will help prepare it for the next level.

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1. Focus on existing customers

Identify the customers who generate the most profit for your business or who have the most potential for additional sales. Actively engage with these customers to gain more sales. Find out how you can utilise the 80/20 rule in business.

Conduct online surveys or ask customers directly to discover what other products or services they might be interested in. For example, if you own a convenience store, ask staff to informally question customers at your checkout and to take note of what else they would like to be able to buy. Add some of these suggestions to your product or service line. See our advice on the best approach for following up with your customers.

Building a loyalty system with points or loyalty cards is a great way to encourage more frequent purchases and track your customers’ buying habits with the data you collect. For example, if you run a winery, keep a record of your customers so each time they visit they can gather credit towards a free bottle of wine. This can also help identify sales opportunities.

Collecting customer emails or addresses enables you to contact them with special offers, new items or useful information. For example, if you had your own taxi business, you could email discounted fares to customers at slower times of the year. Learn how to start doing business online.

Ensure your business has friendly, helpful staff that are well trained to take advantage of converting enquiries into sales. Run in-house sales sessions or employ a sales consultant. Read our article covering tips about how your business can get more conversions.

Help your staff on-sell to existing customers by offering incentives. For example, if you operated an adventure tourism business with multiple activities you could offer bonuses for selling certain products or increasing the average sale. Learn more about how to build a strong team.

Start a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter campaign (whichever is most relevant to your business) and talk about your business and its customers to increase the profile of your business and encourage additional purchases. Find out more about the growing role of social media in business.

List the products or services your customers have previously bought and then match complementary items that you could sell to them. Contact them with offers. Always encourage customers to consider buying a higher net margin product or service.

Go over your business plan to evaluate and update anything that’s recently changed. Check you’re still on track for your growth goals and make any necessary adjustments.  Download our business plan template to get started.

Find new customers (within the current market)

Measure the response rates to each area of your direct marketing campaign, whether it be email advertising, direct mail, or online click-throughs. Invest more of your marketing budget into what gets results. For example, if you’re an electrician, consider doing a mail drop in your local area, advertising your services.

Build up positive word of mouth referrals by getting testimonials from customers, encouraging regulars to refer their friends or family to your business, speaking at events, and networking inside chambers or business associations. For example, if you own a travel agency that offers escorted tours to Europe, get feedback from your customers and ask to use some of their quotes on your website.

Create an introductory offer for new customers only. Sacrifice your regular profits to gain loyal customers that will buy again on a regular basis. Consider what the Australian Government’s business website has to say about finding new customers.

To increase your online presence, list your business on the most popular online directories, such as Yelp. Alternatively, use these resources to uncover potential new customers (especially through industry directories).

SEO will help increase your website’s traffic leading to a growth in your customer base. Spend some time determining your site’s keywords and keyword phrases so it attracts the right traffic for your business.

Consider paying for search engine marketing (SEM) so that when customers search for your business products your web address is more likely to come up than others. For example, if you’re an accountant catering to small businesses, you might find there’s a lot of competition so think about paying for an ad that appears on the first search page. Find out how else you can drive traffic to your website.

Instagram allows you to visually tell the story of your business and its offerings through images. When potential customers like your product or service images (which can be linked to your other social media accounts), you might get an avalanche of views.

Keep your content fresh and updated by writing regular blogs (informal content posted online in a chronological order) about your business, your people, and successful case studies. Regular blog content can be important for increasing your SEO and driving traffic to your website. Find out how to determine your online traffic return on investment.

Run demonstrations, workshops or events to showcase your business to existing or new customers. For example, if you’re a martial arts instructor going it alone, create a series of workshops to show potential clients the skills and benefits of learning through you.

Networking with like-minded business individuals is crucial to managing the right business contacts in your industry. Uncover potential customers by either attending industry events or using the directory of government and business associations to find member contact details in order to contact them directly. 

Outline a specific marketing strategy that’s aimed at new customer segments. Then develop a precise advertising plan to build awareness and encourage purchases. For example, if you’re targeting truck drivers, create a billboard theme that plays on words and back that up with occasional radio adverts.

2. Find new markets (with existing products or services)

If you want to get your goods or services out there in front of a worldwide audience, think about creating a YouTube channel for your business. This is a great way to demonstrate products or share tips with your customers. For example, if you have a background in carpentry and a small business that makes wooden furniture, display some of your products on YouTube to gain a following.

Look for customers you’re interested in targeting in markets that are similar to yours. Google’s Global Market Finder generates a spreadsheet based on monthly keyword searches that ranks the opportunities of doing business in certain geographical locations.

Once you’ve connected with your customers on Facebook or LinkedIn, find people in their networks who are interested in your offerings. For example, if you’re starting up a small business making jewellery from your garage, a Facebook page showing your offerings is a logical and cheap place to start advertising. Find out about how to market on Facebook.

Build connections, demonstrate new products and develop stronger relationships with new markets by presenting your business at trade shows. See what trade events are in Australia over the coming year.

Research the feasibility of successfully opening a new store, office or branch. For example, if you already own a successful wholesale outlet on the western side of your city, think about the value of opening another on the east.

If your products or services are suitable for government agencies, departments or larger corporates that release tenders for work, you might be able to find a totally new market you hadn’t considered before. For example, if you run an IT company that looks after the electronic data and security of small businesses, are there opportunities to tender for government work? Learn how to bid for government contracts.

If you’re a wholesaler, consider opening a retail outlet. Or if you only sell through retail channels, investigate entering the wholesale industry. Take a look at business.gov.au’s retail and wholesale trade industry fact sheet.

Hire sales reps in other regions of Australia to help your business branch out into different markets. If they’re only on commission, it’s a results driven tactic. For example, if you have a growing business in Sydney that manufactures and leases vending machines, is it worth hiring some sales reps in other cities to broaden your potential client base. Read about hiring independent sales reps to help grow your business.

Develop an export plan to identify the feasibility of selling outside Australia. For example, you might cure meats and distribute them around Australia to various supermarkets. Have you considered exporting your cured meats to parts of Asia? 

3. Develop new products or services (to open new markets)

Ask your customers about what new products or services they would like to see added to your range. Brainstorm ideas with your staff, along with which new markets to target. This article has some advice on how you can unlock innovative ideas.

Calculate whether you can make a profit from your planned new product or service. Carry out some market research to be sure of demand. For example, if you’re a manufacturer of sports goods and you’ve created a prototype for a new style of cricket bat, get opinions from a whole range of cricketers, from kids up to professionals.

 

Before introducing your new product or service to the market, make sure you test it first. Listen to consumer responses and take on board any advice before going to market.

Once you’ve developed some intellectual property (IP), it’s vital you protect it. Have a look at the IP Australia website for detailed information on what you need to do to protect your business’s ideas.

Consider licensing another business’s products or services as a way to extend your product or service range. It’s especially effective if they’re complementary to your own offerings. Read our article about some other profitable ideas you can learn from larger companies.

Keep an eye on other successful businesses within your industry, or those targeting markets that you’re interested in, and look at how to develop a strategic alliance. 

Search out products that aren’t available or are difficult to obtain in Australia, but will potentially open up new domestic markets.

4. Improve profit

Look at current processes you could change to save you time or money. One way could be changing from manual systems to automatic ones to free up time for more important tasks.

Look at each area of your business separately and come up with ways to reduce energy use. For example, if you’re a supplier and you hold your inventory in a warehouse that’s busy 24 hours a day, lighting and heating may be major expenses. Can you switch to cheaper sources?

Identify how to produce more efficiently to reduce left over materials, which will lower your cost of goods sold. For example, if you manage and own a large department store, are there ways you could reduce total staff hours to lower costs. 

Improve your output to deliver your products or services faster. Add staff, upgrade to the latest equipment, or change software; try anything to speed up production.

It sounds obvious but whichever way you choose to increase prices it all goes straight to your bottom line. Consider the impact on demand if you have price-sensitive customers. For example, you might be a goat farmer selling high quality meat, cheese and milk. Does your product have any leverage to negotiate a higher price?

Audit all your expenses to see what can be lowered without affecting your business operation. Re-negotiate with suppliers and reassess any subscription services or set pricing plans.

Take a close look at your debtors to establish which ones need extra motivation to pay you sooner. Consider changing your policy towards new debtors by tightening payment terms or adding a discount for quick payers. Make sure you have Internet Banking as an option.

How ANZ can help you fund your growth plans

Keep in touch with your ANZ Small Business Specialist to consolidate your banking, streamline your accounts, or manage your cash flow as your business continues to grow.

As your business moves forward, it will probably need additional loans to cater for the expected growth. For example, if you plan to open up three new stores in Victoria, you’ll likely need some financing to make it possible. Take a look at ANZ’s range of loans and finance solutions.

Manage your cash flow better and look at ways to lessen risk with ANZ’s export trade finance solutions. You’ll probably want financial guarantees when transacting overseas, so make sure you get the right advice for your business.

Whether you need a working capital, transaction, international trade or foreign exchange solution, set up electronic banking so your business can accept online payments. Today eCommerce is commonplace so it’s important that your business offers eBanking solutions to cater for this growing customer preference.

For sales trends, customer patterns and industry performance, take a look at ANZ Business Insights. You can assess where potential new customer groups live or work.

As your business grows you may need new facilities, lending limits, merchant accounts, software, tools, eCommerce platforms and advice. Find out how to get the most out of your bank manager.

Next steps

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