As a small business owner you’ve no doubt been working hard over the years to make sure your pipeline is always as full as it can be and that your sales increase year on year. However, even if you feel confident that you’ve got to stage where you don’t have to worry so much about job security, now is really not the time to be complacent.
So many small business owners fall into the trap of complacency and find themselves recognising, too late, that their business has hit a sales plateau; a plateau that they have no idea how to get out of. Your business might have all the work that it can possibly handle, yet not be bringing in as much money as you’d forecast. If you recognise this situation, you need to act before it’s too late.
The following tips will help if you ever find yourself in a no-growth situation and help you to remain strong where many other businesses would crumble.
Raise your profile
Many business owners make the mistake of becoming lethargic in their marketing efforts but raising your profile should be a continual process. Whether you have a five year old business-to-customer company or a one year old business to business company you should constantly be thinking of activities that will help increase your company’s exposure.
For instance there will no doubt be a number of opportunities to get involved in your local community, which will help raise your profile amongst customers, and for business-business companies, you can look into sponsoring various conferences or networking events where you’ll be sure to interact with interested clients.
Time for a price increase and/or an overhaul of packaging?
One of the best ways to get yourself out of the plateau stage is to amend your pricing strategy or to reinvent the way you package your products and/or services. Yes, raising your prices may put a few of your customers off and you may even lose some. However, the subsequent revenue growth that you achieve will be worth losing the odd customer.
If you don’t feel comfortable with raising your prices without explanation then you should look at how you can amend your packaging. Packaging has a huge impact on the way customers perceive a business, so re-packing your products or the way you present your services can alter your customers’ perception and make them more amenable to a price hike.
More money for the least amount of effort
Customers will always be willing to pay more or buy more from a company which offers a lot of value; whether this value is in customer service or the products and services themselves. You should think about how you can possibly add more value for your customers without it costing you the earth.
For instance you could always introduce something as simple as a self-help forum on your website, or a separate blog, where your customers can go to solve their own problems without causing you any additional effort or money, yet giving your customers something valuable.
Expand your product range
When you have been selling within your target marketplace for a few years you should have built up enough understanding to know what works and what is attractive to your customers. When your business reaches a plateau, it is therefore the perfect time to introduce something new; a secondary product. Secondary products tend to be a lot more profitable than primary products, simply because you’re already selling to an interested audience base.
Make good use of freelancers / affiliates
As a small business one of your biggest expenses is going to be staffing. However, one way to get round this and the rigmarole of payroll and HR processes is to employ freelancers or affiliates on a commission basis. This means you will only ever have to pay them as and when a sale is made which greatly reduces the financial risk to your business.
Do an audit of your clients
No matter the size of your business, there will always be a number of clients and customers who take up a lot of time yet aren’t all that profitable to your business. They might be too small to really be of any great importance or they might just be too much work! You need to let these customers/clients go and spend more time on those who are a better fit and are the most profitable.
All of the above tips will help facilitate your company’s growth without negatively impacting your profit margin, which is what you should always be aiming to achieve, let alone when you’re trying to get your business through the plateau storm.