19 Ways to Grow Your Business

19 Ways to Grow Your Business

How Can I Grow My Business and Find More Customers?

As a business owner, how to grow my business is a question I ask myself on a weekly, if not daily, basis. When I first started out, there was the excitement of being my own boss, but it was when the bills started rolling in that I asked the question, how do I get more customers to help grow my business?

As a business owner, your main focus is often on doing the best job you can for the client, and your spare time is spent keeping up to date with what is happening in your industry, tax returns and paying salaries. So how do you find the time to find new clients when all of that is happening?

I want to help you grow your business and here is my guide to how you can earn more this year.

1.    Create an Engaging Website That Helps Your Customers

A website is a basic necessity for almost all businesses. It’s a way for customers to find your business, but also to see the quality of your work, services you offer and, most importantly, have a way to contact you. You can do some of this with social media (which we will come on to later), but the organic reach of social media shrinks every day and social media platforms can disappear without warning, so to guard against that, build a website for your business and see below about email marketing and how you can use your website to connect with your customers at a deeper level.

Having a simple, well-designed website that helps your customers know more about you and your business can lead to more income if done correctly. For most businesses, a website can be as simple as single landing page. Most businesses don’t need complex websites with multiple pages and shopping carts.

I use Divi to build my websites and it’s simple enough to pick up in a few days. If you’re ready to start building your own website now, head straight over to my blog post about starting a new blog.

If you’re still unsure about what to put on your new website, read on.

What should a small business website include at minimum?

  • Examples of your work
  • Employee images where possible
  • FAQs that your company receives
  • Contact information, including a physical address if you have one
  • Social media links if you use them regularly (don’t link to inactive accounts as they will do your image more harm than good)

Additional items to include on your website:

  • A blog that helps customers and people within your industry (build authority)
  • Newsletter signup (more on this in email marketing below)
  • Videos that help deal with common issues your customers or peers have (build authority)

Having a blog on your website will help you build authority within your industry. This will in turn help you to become the go-to person when both your peers and customers have a question. Remember, building this content will take time, so start off with a one-page website with the basics and add content as you create it. Don’t try to do it all at once as you will burn out. Adding content little and often over time will help your business grow. This is why adding a blog is a long-term strategy that can help you stand out from the crowd.

Regardless of how little content you have published in the beginning, never have an ‘under construction’ page. Customers find these pages frustrating and may not return, and Google may decide that your website is defunct.

2.    Use Social Media the Right Way

I see many companies out there use social media as a way to always be selling to their customers, but did you know that shouting ‘buy my product’ is not how you get someone to buy your product? Sounds simple, right? Well, it can be simple if you do it right.

Social media works best when you entertain and also educate your audience. If you focus on entertaining or educating your audience to solve a problem, they will be more likely to buy from you in the future. Help your customers solve small problems and this will help build up trust. The idea behind this is that they will then come to you with their higher value projects in the future, as there is that foundational trust in place.

Choosing the right social media platform

Choosing the right platform will depend on your business model and the type of customer that you want to attract. In the early days it can be tempting to try and be on every platform, but it’s more important to build an audience on one platform and to understand how to best use that platform and all the features that it offers than try to use them all. Spending time on one platform will also mean you better serve your audience there and they become more engaged.

When choosing which social media platform to use, ask yourself where your preferred customers hang out. Each platform has its own personality, so choose the one that is the best fit for your business, and is where your customers already spend their time. It’s pointless posting on Instagram if your customers are all on Twitter.

If you’re unsure about choosing the right platform for your business, please get in touch.

3.    Email Marketing for Your Business

Email marketing done right is one of the better ways to reach your customers. Typically, 10-15% of your following on social media will see your post. The number of followers who see your post on the day you post it will be even lower. Typically, a post on any social media platform will be shown to people over the course of a week or longer, so if you want to communicate a special offer to your customers, you’re better off sending out a well-timed email that will be delivered directly to their inbox.

How to get your customers’ email addresses

The best way to get your customers to part with their email address is to ask for it at the point of sale or by offering a free download such as a check list, ebook or cheat sheet. You can do this with any one of many different email service providers, but the one I use is ConvertKit. Having used many providers over the years, I’ve found the workflow of ConvertKit to be the most intuitive and their support has also been very responsive with any questions I’ve had.

Once you have the email address from a customer or even a potential customer, it’s time to start building up a relationship with them and building trust and authority within your market. Remember, be seen as being helpful as well as keeping them informed about any offers you have.

Sign up for a free trial of ConvertKit

Updates and special offers

Keeping your audience updated with your progress is a great way to sell, but also keep them informed of changes to your business. Introduce them to the team, new menu items or services that you are now offering. Talking about any work that you are doing in the community and how your customers can get involved is also a great way to engage with your audience.

4.    Add Your Business to Google

How often do you use Google Maps to find a business or a service near you? Businesses aren’t added by Google, they are added by the business owners. So if you haven’t added your business to Google Maps so that people can find you in the same way, you can add your business to Google here: https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778

When you click the link above and the page loads, just click ‘Get Started’ and you will be asked a few questions:

  • Your business name
  • Choose a category for your business
  • Add an address (this location will show up on Google Maps and Search when customers are looking for your business)
  • Include other geographical areas you cover
  • Enter contact details (including your existing website or claim a free one through Google)

Once your business has been added to Google Maps you will be able to:

  • Promote your business with photos and posts
  • Track business analytics to understand your customers
  • Respond to customer reviews

One thing you will need to do is verify your business address (this typically takes four days to arrive in the post) and then you can update and create your profile on Google Maps.

Adding your business to Google Maps will also mean customers can check in to your business on Facebook, which will be seen by their network of friends and is essentially free advertising for you.

5.    Ask for Reviews 

You’ve added your business to Google Maps. Ask previous customers to leave you a review (choose people you have a good relationship with who are likely to leave you positive honest reviews). Ask them to include images if they have any, as these will also help build visibility for your business.

After this initial round of requests, you can do this routinely in a follow up email with all your clients after they have purchased from you. Provide them with a link to review you. Seeing positive reviews from previous clients will help build trust for future clients to use your product or service.

6.    Keep Yourself Organised

Each morning check what you have on for the day and also have an overview of what is coming for the week or month ahead. Doing this as part of your regular routine will help and you’ll be less likely to miss an important task ever again. This can be as simple as using Google Calendars on your phone, or Outlook Calendar on your laptop to set up reminders for regular events and tasks.

In my SHOT system, I talk about handling one priority task at a time. It might feel like you want to get everything done all at the same time, but you only have so many hours in a day. Focus the time you have on handling one important task that moves you one step closer to your goal. This task should be one that is going to help you and your business increase its revenue, as this will mean you are more likely to be motivated to get the task done.

You can read more about my SHOT system here:



7.    Guest Speaking as Your Business

Guest speaking at dinner events or industry events is not only a great way to increase your authority in your field, but it’s also a great way to find new clients that are interested in your product or service.

There are many ways that you can do this and collaborate with others in your wider industry to help as a community.

Live events in your industry

Getting on stage can be nerve-wracking, but remember, you are the one that knows about your chosen subject. If you are presented with the opportunity to get in front of a new audience this way, the important thing to remember is you want as many of them to get to know you further as possible. You’ll obviously introduce yourself at the start, but at the end of your talk, let them know how they can find out more about you and your business. Have a simple link to a website where they can download something in exchange for their email. Make it easy to remember and encourage them to take a photo of the slide on their phones. One I use is https://www.darrenmeredith.co.uk/creators

Other places you can get in front of a new audience include a podcast or YouTube livestream. If you have a favourite podcast, YouTuber or professional in the industry, reach out to them with a few ideas on how you can add value to their audience, while also adding value to yours.

8.    Attend Networking Events (after we get out of lockdown!)

I mentioned above about speaking at events but attending events as a consumer or attendee is also a great way to connect and meet people in the industry. When attending networking events, it’s important to always carry plenty of business cards with you, so make sure you order them far enough in advance. You can use sites like Canva to design your own business cards. I’ve used them myself and have them printed via their online store for quick delivery.

After the event, go through all the cards you collected and send a follow up email to each person. You can meet a lot of people in one go at networking events, so it’s worth making a note of something that reminds you of that person on their card. You can do this in front of them, as they will also remember you for doing this trick.

9.    Guest Blogging as Your Business

One of the reasons for having a blog is to attract new customers to your business and for them to then purchase from you. But relying on just your own blog will take time and dedication to create enough valuable content that will eventually start ranking. There is a way to speed this up: guest blogging.

Guest blogging on other people’s blogs helps your website because one of the ranking factors in Google is EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness). You need to prove that you’re an expert in your subject and are considered an authority in the area and trusted by your peers in your industry. Writing blog posts on blogs in your industry and getting links back to your website in return does this. You will eventually be seen by Google as the go-to website for that subject.

Natural link building will help you build your domain authority, which is a number that indicates how important Google considers your website to be for any given subject.

The important factor here though is that you are linking to worthy content and there is a reason for the link back to your blog or site. Done well, this can boost your site’s ranking, but done badly it can damage it.

10. Join Local Business Organisations

Join local organisations like your Chamber of Commerce. At your local Chamber, you will meet like-minded businesspeople who want to help each others’ businesses to grow. You’ll be introduced to others that might have a service you require or there may be ways in which you can help other businesses.

If you are in the UK, you can find out more by visiting the British Chambers of Commerce.

You can also join local business-orientated Facebook groups and become an active member in those. While many groups don’t allow you to simply drop a link to your business and run, if you are an active member of the group you will become known as the go-to person who answers other people’s questions and helps the community. This in turn may lead to collaborations with members of the group or even the group owner.

The key with Facebook groups is to be there to be helpful and engaging and not be a spammer.

11. Create an Online Course

Can you put together your skills into an online course? Building an online course using what you know to teach others is a great way to grow your business. You will reach international clients online that you might not otherwise be able to reach by running a local course. Even clients that you hold in-person training for may be interested in an online course too, as they would be able to follow along at their own pace.

As a site for hosting an online course, my preference is Teachable as you own the content and have a better connection with your students than you do with some other platforms on the market.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how to build your own online course, get in touch. I can help you build and market your online course.

12. Start a Membership Group

Membership groups on platforms like Facebook are a way for your students to connect with each other in a space that you control. You can interact with them in there and answer their questions on the feed so that others can benefit from the information and you can demonstrate your expertise to the whole group rather than individually by email.

Another feature of Facebook groups in particular is that you can also choose to go live and speak to your members directly. You can update them on developments in your business or changes to your course, or check in with them about how they are finding the course and any questions they might have. I’ve seen this work best with groups on Facebook even when the course itself is held on Teachable.

13. Start a YouTube Channel

Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine (the first being Google), and that YouTube is owned by Google? By creating great content that helps answer questions related to your industry, you will be able to reach new potential customers, as your videos can show up when people are searching for answers to their problems.

YouTube has a reputation for being all about prank videos and cat memes but it is actually an excellent platform to grow your business. I’ve seen people from eye doctors to authors to photographers grow their businesses with YouTube.

If this piques your interest but you think you need fancy gear to start a YouTube channel, you are wrong. All you need is a way to film yourself (a smartphone works) and an idea of the videos you want to create.

Check out my course on starting a YouTube channel to find out more and download my 12 Video Ideas for your business.

14. Hold a Webinar

Creating and advertising a webinar to explain more about your business, course or services is a fun way to connect with new customers. Give them something of value that they can act upon but leave them wanting more. If it’s a course that you offer, you can provide them with a checklist or a small part of the course as a taster of the quality of information you provide.

Holding a webinar is also a way to add people onto your mailing list. They might not attend, or they might watch the replay of your webinar, but you now have an email address from them to be able to sell to. This means they are now a warm lead who will potentially be easier to sell to.

15. Create a Challenge

I challenge you to a duel isn’t quite what I mean here… Create a challenge that will help your customers create something of value. Take your audience on a transformation process, help them solve a frustration they have in simple-to-follow steps. A good friend of mine, Russell, does this with origami. Russell has released a book called Origami Made Simple, both in the book and in his videos you can follow along to create origami models. On his Facebook page and also his YouTube channel, you can follow along and create some of the models from the book too. You can see his origami website here.

Your challenge should be related to your business. So, if you are a joiner it might be an introduction to woodwork, if you are a chef, how to cook or bake something from scratch. You get the idea, but I’m happy to chat over ideas on a call.

The idea of the challenge you create is to give your audience a sense of accomplishment and build a connection with you as a path to offering them a product or service you offer in the future.

16. Attend Trade Events and Conferences

These are conferences that are put on by businesses or professional bodies in your industry. World Travel Markets or ITB Berlin are examples of travel industry events that happen every year, or the London Book Fair for publishers and authors.

At these events you will meet other organisations in the industry that are highly relevant to you and your business. As with networking events, carry plenty of business cards and follow up after the event to further establish your working relationship and discuss how you can possibly work together on any projects.

These events are key in each industry’s calendar, and are often when most of the year’s networking and trading is done, as every business in the industry comes together in one place for several days.

17. Start a Podcast

A podcast can help you establish authority within your industry, as you will be able to provide up to date information about what is happening and any changes you are facing in your industry. It’s a way to connect with others in your industry and have them on as guests to interview and share their experiences.

If you are looking to set up a podcast, have a look at Pat Flynn on YouTube. He also has courses available that will walk you through setting up a podcast from scratch.

18. Work ‘On’ Your Business While You Can’t Work ‘In’ It

If you are ever faced with a time when you can’t work in your business serving clients, try to keep focused and see if there is a way you can work on adding value to your business instead. For example, if you own a restaurant and you have to close your doors, can you pivot and provide take away or delivery services instead for the period you have to close?

Be careful though, work-life-balance can often be hard to get right as a business owner. While you can be very focused on building your empire, it is important to make sure you take time for you and your family to enjoy precious times like weekends and evenings. Taking a few hours to recharge will help you be more focused when you are back working in your business.

19. Employ Someone to Help

You don’t have to do everything alone – you can grow your business with the help of others. If you don’t have the time or skills for tasks like social media engagement, blog posts or setting up a website, you can employ a content creator, like me, who can help you with this. You (as the business owner), send me the a brief and any pictures and I will create posts across your social media and write blog posts for your website.

I’m a content creator and I work with you to develop content strategies for your blog and social media accounts including YouTube. I can also post on your behalf and write blog posts on agreed subjects.

I invest my time learning about SEO, hashtags and social media strategy so you don’t have to.

Freelance Home Office Workspace

Freelance Home Office Workspace

Freelance office Desk showing laptop and iPad ready to work with a mug of tea

Starting out as a freelancer, the one area I took a while to get used to was not having a dedicated space or office to go to each day. Creating the perfect freelance home office workspace has helped me to increase my productivity and helped me to be more focused on the tasks I have to complete to become more successful.

But this isn’t all about me, it’s about you and how you can create the perfect office space for you and your freelance career. Having a dedicated office or desk space helps you to feel more organised and able to focus, since you will have fewer distractions.

Home Office Space vs Coworking Space

When starting out for yourself, there are two main options you have. You can find a local coworking space or create the perfect home working space for yourself that you will feel relaxed to work in. For some, working from home can be very isolating and so they choose a coworking space to be around others, but for others more comfortable with working alone the expense and commitment of a coworking space can add to the worry of making enough money to pay the bills.

Ideally, you can mix these two ideas up and maybe use a coworking space 1-2 days a week to be around other freelance workers and create yourself an amazing home office workspace that you will be productive and creative in.

Finding Your Home Office Workspace

Early in your freelance career you may not want, nor have the funds available, to commit yourself to a traditional rented office space. Your main focus is on building up your business and finding regular paying clients.

Deciding to dedicate a space in your home to call your office is an important decision. If you work from home often, as many freelancers do, it will allow you to keep homelife and worklife separate. So when you are home and relaxing on the sofa, you can switch off a little. On the flip side of that you are less likely to find yourself binge-watching Netflix when you should be working on your content strategy…. Ahh yes… distractions. Having a dedicated space will help avoid them too.

Keep focused Thumbnail for YouTube video

The space you choose for your home office should be a dedicated working space, but finding an area in your home where you can have your desk and all your work-related items together is the main focus. Keeping some paperwork in the kitchen, a receipt box in the bedroom and tax returns in the living room is what you’re aiming to avoid.

If you can, your space should include natural light, some real plants (they help oxygenate the room and help you think clearer). They must be real plants and not fake ones, something that is easy to look after and easy to maintain. Check out this article for some ideas: 10 Best plants for your desk.

Invest in Your Home

If you are in a financial position to rent a traditional office, I have another idea for you. Why not invest in extending your home instead and build a dedicated home office? This is good because it adds value to your house, saves on travelling time to and from the office and you can design your ideal space. If the area is big enough, you can even invite other freelance friends over and create your own coworking space.

You can go the whole hog and add a space for your own coffee machine, which will be much more rewarding than paying for expensive coffee in a coffee shop or the drab coffee often found in coworking spaces. It’s important to keep yourself alert, as this will help you keep focus for longer. Make sure you drink plenty of water too, as dehydration ruins concentration.

Home Office Organisation

You now have your corner of the world sorted, your space to build your empire. Keeping your kingdom organised and tidy will help you be more productive. Investing in storage solutions such as a classic but inexpensive Kallax unit from IKEA will help keep your paperwork and gear organised and look good too.

Then there’s the running of your business to keep organised too. How do you keep track of your calendar, accounts and to-do lists? Do you prefer digital organisers or are you a fan of the traditional paper and pen?

Include Colour in Your Office Space

Choosing the right colours in your office will help send your brain the right messages. Blue shows power and trust, Yellow is for energy, and orange is associated with happiness. You don’t have to go too crazy and I’d suggest an interior design with a light and airy feeling is best. Also remember to try to create a warm feeling, rather than a sterile or formal one, as this is part of your home.

Colour charts fanned out to show a full range of colours for your Freelance Home Office Space.

If you can’t or don’t want to paint the walls, you can always add colour by hanging some wall art or pictures of your family. Maybe frame your favourite motivational quote that will inspire you.

Furniture for Your Home Office

You are your own boss, so it’s up to you if you choose to sit on the sofa with a cushion under your laptop to work, but I’d say investing in some good furniture will help both your productivity and your posture. Have a look at this workstation assessment from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to get an idea of what an ideal desk setup should look like.

Office chair choice

A proper office chair with a high back that gives lumbar support is ideal, but at minimum your chair should have height and tilt adjustments to help keep your posture correct while working. I suggest going to a furniture shop and sitting on all the office chairs you can to find the one that suits you best. If you’re unable to get to a furniture shop, then read reviews on places like Amazon and choose a chair that is as adjustable as possible to maximise comfort and ergonomics.

Choosing an office desk for your home office

Let’s be clear… your kitchen table is not an office desk! It’s OK to work at a kitchen or dining room table ad-hoc, but for long term working, you will have better posture at a dedicated office desk. The reason for this is that our posture at the humble kitchen table is different from sitting at an office desk.

A desk with adjustable height is better as an office desk for this reason. Standing desks are a good option also, as they allow us to work standing up and maintain correct posture without slouching over a desk. I’ve also seen claims that they can lower the risk of weight gain (which can be something of an issue for anyone working from home).

Choose a larger monitor

After lots of research looking for a monitor within my budget, I chose an HP 27 Inch HD screen. It’s much better for my posture and my eyes than a 13-inch MacBook Pro screen alone and it gives me the visual real estate I need for editing videos and working on my websites.

Investing in a quality screen is important, as you’re probably going to be staring at it for most of your day. An HD monitor, up to 27 inches is ideal. If you are doing design work or want something larger, you will be better off with a 4K monitor for a better screen resolution. I chose the HP 27fh monitor, as it has height and tilt adjustments that help with ergonomics and mean I make fewer trips to the osteopath!

Footrest

Are you short? If you are less than 165cm (5ft 5in), then you may need a footrest to ensure correct posture at your desk. This will partly depend on how high your desk is and how low your chair will go. If your chair is at the lowest it will go and your feet are not flat on the ground, place a footrest under your feet and this will improve your posture.

Upgradeable Office Ideas

Getting started out as a freelancer is tough. I’ve done this myself in the last few years and when I worked in an office for an employer, I never thought twice about the chair and desk I used or how much light I was getting. I was given a seat to sit at for 7-8 hours and that was the option.

There are cheap office solutions, but I recommend that you make the investment in the best you can afford at the time. Your mind and body will thank you and you owe it to yourself to be comfortable now you’ve made the step into freelance freedom and you are now the boss.

Something as simple as adding a laptop stand and connecting a separate keyboard and mouse to your laptop when you are working at your desk will be a great start to building your freelance home office workspace.

Make Your Home Office a Smart Space

Get yourself a freelance assistant. Wait! What? Why would I be telling you to spend money on an employee, when you’re just starting out? What I mean by a freelance assistant is use smart technology to help you do things more easily like setting reminders and alarms without leaving your chair.

An Amazon Alexa speaker is great for this. I find that when I work alone, it can be easy to get into my flow and forget the time, so if I have a meeting or call that I need to remember, I set a reminder using Alexa. Saying it out loud, and it is less disruptive to my flow than stopping to set an alarm on my phone or make a calendar reminder. I can also listen to my favourite podcast, stream music or ask Alexa to read a book to me if I want to give my eyes a rest.

If you create a home office, I’d love to see your setup. Please tag me and say hello, I love to hear from you guys. Here is my little corner of the world that I work from. I’m next to a window for natural light and I have plenty of storage behind me. I keep my camera and studio gear set up, so I can easily record videos without having to take the time to set up for each session.