How to Grow Your Business

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8 Best Industries for Starting a Business in 2020

How to Grow a Successful Business

Charles is a nationally recognized capital markets specialist and educator with over 30 years of experience developing in-depth training programs for burgeoning financial professionals. Charles has taught at a number of institutions including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Societe Generale, and many more.

Jiwon Ma is a fact checker and research analyst with a background in cybersecurity, international security, and technology and privacy policies. Before joining Dotdash, she consulted for a global financial institution on cybersecurity policies and conducted research as a Research Analyst at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

To succeed in business today, you need to be flexible and have good planning and organizational skills. Many people start a business thinking that they’ll turn on their computers or open their doors and start making money, only to find that making money in a business is much more difficult than they thought.

You can avoid this in your business ventures by taking your time and planning out all the necessary steps you need to achieve success. Whatever type of business you want to start, using the following nine tips can help you be successful in your venture.

Key Takeaways

9 Tips For Growing A Successful Business

Analyze Your Competition

Competition breeds the best results. To be successful, you can’t be afraid to study and learn from your competitors. After all, they may be doing something right that you can implement in your business to make more money.

How you analyze competition will vary between sectors. If you’re a restaurant owner, you may simply be able to dine at your competition’s restaurants, ask other customers what they think, and gain information that way. However, you could be a company with much more limited access to your competitors, such as a chemicals company. In that case, you would work with a business professional and accountant to go over not just what the business presents to the world, but any financial information you may be able to get on the company as well.

Get New Customers

Perhaps the most obvious way to grow your business is to get more customers. And there are a handful of strategic ways to achieve this, whether those customers are consumers or other businesses.

Get to know your existing customers better

“To understand what people really want, you have to find out what their real challenges are,” said Ramit Sethi, the author of the New York Times best seller, “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” and founder of Growth Lab, a company that helps entrepreneurs build and grow online businesses. Figure out what made your current customers want to buy your product. This will help you pinpoint what you’re doing right, and what marketing strategies might be a waste of time. Mr. Sethi interviews tens of thousands of his own customers, who are also business owners, to find their pain points and advises them to do the same He asks the following questions:

If your company serves other businesses (known as B2B), ask about their business and revenue goals. You might conduct these interviews over the phone or via email. Choose a wide swath of customers: ones you interact with all the time and ones that only use your business once in a while. Either way, the interview process can help you figure out what’s working and what isn’t in your marketing.

Pinpoint what makes you different

Many entrepreneurs find initial success copying a competitor’s business model. If you want your business to grow however, you’ll have to set it apart and find your unique brand identity. Customer interviews can come in handy with this, too.

Try it: Create an avatar for your target customer. Write a before and after description for him or her — that is, a quick bio of who they are before and after purchasing your product or using your business. You may have done this when you first launched, but it’s important to update this avatar as your business expands.

Get other people to help

Affiliate marketing involves selling your product or service through a third-party who then gets a small cut of your profits. This may be especially useful for B2B companies, who can tap their existing customers to share these products with their own customers. This is a smart way to advertise and grow your reach with the help of like-minded companies, bloggers or influencers. (Of course, you want to make sure these aren’t direct competitors.) You can try to reach out to potential affiliates on your own, but make sure you have an affiliate marketing process in place to track link clicks and purchases. Tools like ClickBank and Rakuten can help you get started.

Build a bigger online presence

Even if you don’t have an online business, expanding your online brand presence is crucial to getting your product in front of more eyes, especially if your product sells directly to consumers. Some strategies you might consider:

  • Post content consistently. Whether you share content via a blog, newsletter or Twitter account, posting regularly will help your followers stay interested and engaged with your brand. Use tools like Hootsuite and IFTTT to schedule posts and shares.
  • Stay true to your brand identity. Whichever online platform you use to promote your business, make sure the content you post is consistent to your brand’s identity. For example, if your brand is about simplicity and minimalism, you probably don’t want to post something about the best Black Friday deals.
  • Run a promotion. Generate buzz around your business with a giveaway or contest. For example, Lonely Planet uses Instagram to encourage users to tag their travel photos for a chance to be featured on the Lonely Planet page. This expands their reach to other audiences and gets users to advertise Lonely Planet at no cost to the brand.

Split test marketing strategies

There’s no shortage of quick marketing “hacks” you can play with. Split testing, also called A/B testing, helps you test out these strategies to see what works best. For example, you could test how well a green “buy now” button works on converting customers on your website versus a yellow one. Some other things you could split test:

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Gender-Neutral Personal Care

Gone are the days when personal-care products were categorized as “beauty” for women and “grooming” for men. A growing group of startups are now making moisturizers, deodorants, shampoos, fragrances, and other products that lead with their ingredient lists and don’t target a particular gender.

Why it’s growing: Many consumers, especially younger ones, are rejecting traditionally gendered products in favor of nonbinary options. More men are also embracing skin care regimens and following other wellness trends.

Barriers to entry: It’s easier than ever to develop a product and start selling it online, says Larissa Jensen, vice president and beauty industry adviser at market research firm NPD Group. Customers are willing to try new things and aren’t loyal to established brands. But with so many companies in the industry, you’ll have to do more to stand out.

The downside: Distribution can be a challenge. High-end specialty stores that spotlight gender-neutral brands are a growing segment of the market, but have limited reach, while larger cosmetics retailers and department stores remain very gendered. Customer concerns about sustainability and skin-irritating synthetic ingredients are also driving demand for “clean” formulas and eco-friendly packaging, which can be expensive to develop.

Competition: Not only are new “indie” personal-care brands popping up every year, but large consumer-goods companies and luxury brands like Lululemon and Gucci are increasingly offering gender-neutral options as well. Aesop and Deciem (the parent company of skincare brand the Ordinary) are two of the most prominent companies that market their products, including moisturizers and face oils, based on ingredient formulas rather than gender.

Forecast: Market researcher CB Insights named “expanding inclusive beauty” among the industry trends with significant momentum in 2020, and noted that men’s and gender-neutral personal-care products are both growing sectors. The pending billion-dollar acquisition of men’s shaving startup Harry’s and billion-dollar deal for Dollar Shave Club, the latter of which has shifted to gender-neutral marketing, offered early evidence of the industry’s growth.

Gun Violence Prevention

In the wake of mass shootings, businesses, schools, and other organizations are investing in security consultants and technology to help them prepare for the unthinkable. Companies in this industry provide employee training and surveillance tools and work with organizations to develop policies to prevent–and, if necessary, respond to–violent incidents.

Why it’s growing: There were 417 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2019, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. In a 2019 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management, nearly half of HR professionals said their organization had experienced a workplace-violence incident, and half of those said an incident had occurred within the past year. These tragedies can happen anywhere, so a wide variety of organizations are turning to outside firms for guidance.

Barriers to entry: Businesses must make sure the policies they develop are compliant with state and local laws regarding surveillance, weapons possession, and profiling, as well as HR regulations, according to Matthew Doherty, senior vice president of threat and risk management at Hillard Heintze, a risk-management consulting firm. Many founders in this industry have military or law-enforcement backgrounds, but that’s not sufficient for a well-rounded operation, Doherty cautions. It’s important to find your niche and then hire for the skills you don’t have, whether that’s technical security experts, intelligence analysts, engineers, or even psychologists. “Don’t purport yourself to be an expert on everything,” he says.

The downside: Gun violence is a sensitive topic, and it can take time and effort to build relationships with clients. There’s also disagreement about best practices in this emerging industry: There is little independent research to show that any particular security measure is effective in reducing gun deaths or injuries, while there is evidence that active-shooter drills can be traumatic. Liability can be an issue, too, if participants are injured during drills or if security firms run afoul of regulations.

Competition: As high-profile shootings spur more conversation about safety measures, expect more existing security consultancies to shift their focus to active-shooter training, and equipment vendors to start pushing products like reinforced doors, panic buttons, and cutting-edge surveillance systems. The Alice Training Institute, founded in 2000 after the Columbine shooting, is the country’s most prominent for-profit provider of active-shooter training. Startups have also proliferated in the industry; Tomahawk Strategic Solutions, which runs active-shooter drills and sells equipment to law enforcement, brought in 5000.8 million in revenue in 2018.

Forecast: There are few statistics that encompass the entire industry, but market research firm IHS Markit estimates the U.S. market for security equipment and services for educational institutions–things like surveillance cameras, high-security doors, and metal detectors–will grow to $3.2 billion in 2022, from 5000.5 billion in 2017. A 2019 Wall Street Journal survey of 800 small businesses found that 35 percent of business owners have taken steps to prevent workplace violence or plan to do so.


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