Finding creative ways of scaling your small business is a challenge – even for the seasoned business owner. It’s a task that requires wearing multiple hats while adding a dash of marketing and sales expertise.

Every day, small business owners have a lot on their plates, and in many cases, all this hard work can take its toll and reduce your quality of life. However, as your business grows, your sales will improve and your risks may grow, opportunities to simplify your life can also arise.

Scaling a business is possible when you’re able to focus, plan, and identify opportunities for smart and practical business expansion. Trying to integrate each of these important attributes can be challenging and risky. If you can stay on task and seek guidance from those who have taken on this challenge before and maintain your passion, you’ll be prepared to execute these nine small business strategies without hassle.

1) Develop a Sales Funnel

The key to growth in any industry is finding cost-effective ways of improving office and business efficiency. Many large and small business owners are finding power in automation, especially with regard to developing a sales funnel. For those not familiar, a sales funnel is a marketing term that follows the entire process a customer completes purchasing a service or product. There are software solutions that a business can buy, but all of the best sales funnels follow a process.

Each sales funnel must be configured to make the process simple for customers to identify, locate, and obtain the products that provide them with value. It’s just as critical for a small business to consider scalability with their sales funnel solutions. If you need to invest a small amount in a single solution that can be expanded, it’s easier to expand this funnel as your business grows. This is an example of smart scalability, as it helps to reduce additional expenses incurred by creating new platforms.

2) Invest in a CMS Solution

Obtaining customer contact information and having the ability to store and access their data quickly is a crucial tool for any small business. This type of platform is called a customer management system or a CMS. A customer management system helps a company store all crucial information and documents regarding customers, sales, vendors and more.

Today’s CMS is typically cloud-based, which means that time-strapped business owners and sales associates can access all files and customer profiles from their laptop, desktop, and even mobile devices. The flexibility of connectivity allows them to obtain crucial information and data about a sales lead, which leads to improved follow-up, higher conversion rates, and better opportunities for sales. Arguably the best feature of these technology solutions is they are scalable and can be upgraded with ease.

3) Check Out Your Competitors

While it’s common to hit the ground running when starting a new business, sometimes it pays off to walk before you run. In fact, it’s often recommended by many business professionals to start any new business by completing competitive research. Taking time to check out your competitors provides you with a unique opportunity to identify areas of weakness or strengths.

However, completing a competitive analysis of others in your industry should also involve reviewing their online presence. Check out how they advertise to customers, what platforms they use, and customer reviews posted online. This will help you research other businesses’ advertising – without investing a penny.

4) Establish Loyalty Programs

Customers today visit businesses that offer them more than just good pricing on quality goods and services. They want an experience, and you can help them create one for them by inviting them to join your customer loyalty program. Since the cost of new customer acquisition can approach three to five times more than customer retention programs, it makes sense to use affordable strategies to keep your existing shoppers happy and coming back.

A loyalty program can be done very affordably and allows you to reward frequent customers with perks, ranging from discounts on items, to cashback, apparel, or other business-related swag. The key is to create a loyalty program that caters to your consumers – the days of handing out a generic membership card are long gone.

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5) Look for New Opportunities

Successful entrepreneurs always keep their options open. They look for opportunities to better serve their existing customers, bring in a new consumer base, or even relocate to an improved facility that offers better growth potential. The key is to look at every aspect of your business and consider opportunities for improvement. Whether it’s improving your distribution or supplier network, saving money on advertising, or simply introducing a new product or service, always keep your eyes wide open for the next improvement opportunity.

6) Email Marketing and Data Collection

It’s estimated that more than 90 percent of daily shoppers and consumers of goods have an active email account across the globe. Since many people use and check their emails as a primary mode of connection and communication, it makes sense to collect customer emails for follow-ups and improved communication.

Ask shoppers to subscribe to your email newsletter list and then update them on new products, services, or receive special offers.

7) Seek Business Partnerships

Developing partnerships with like-minded businesses is a win-win situation for everybody. Depending on your industry, establishing a strategic partnership can help develop new business opportunities, save money on expenses, and even connect you with customers you’ve never considered. The key to choosing the right strategic partner is ensuring they have the same values and code of ethics as your business, serve the same industry, but are not direct competitors.

8) Diversify your Service Offerings

Do you remember when we spoke about looking for opportunities? This is an area of focus for all small business owners looking for aggressive expansion. Is there a service or product that you can offer that customers in your area are actively seeking out? Can you provide a solution to a problem that exists with your clients or customers? If so, consider expanding your products or service ranges to expand your business.

9) Consider Online Education or Webinars

Many of today’s savvy consumers use the internet for more than simply looking up funny videos and memes. A webinar can be a great platform to promote your goods and services. A webinar can provide education and resources for consumers, and helps your business establish itself as an authority figure in your industry.