So often when our businesses are going well we look at traditional ways to expand them and grow. After all, it seems like the natural next step that we’re ‘supposed’ to take.
I’d like to discuss an alternative approach.
When our dream starts to become a reality, it’s so easy to forget the original reasons that led us to take the plunge and have a stab at living out our dreams.
I know, I’ve been there.
When my dog walking business took off, I took the ‘natural’ next step and hired staff.
Without even realising it, my dream business changed and I was no longer meeting the goals I originally set out to achieve.
Yes, my income increased. But I wasn’t very happy.
I wanted to work for myself with dogs at my side because I wanted to be less stressed, more independent in my work, and to spend time with my own dog rather than having her at daycare all day while I stressed myself nutty in an office.
And it was exactly like that in the beginning.
But as the business grew, I wound up employing staff, training them, managing scheduling and payroll, dealing with ALL the admin and none of the lovely stuff.
Don’t be afraid to pivot
So what did I do?
I pivoted, I niched, and I charged more.
In an area flooded with dog walkers and daycares, I set up a new dog daycare and let my staff go.
My new daycare only took a small number of dogs each day and offered an experience nobody else was offering at the time.
I focused heavily on the welfare of the dogs and took them on epic adventures in the countryside each day. For these city dogs, walks away from the city in the countryside each day were a glorious experience. And their humans were delighted to know their dogs were having a whale of a time visiting new places each day.
The groups were small, well-matched, and well cared for. And I made this a strong part of my marketing.
I wrote a series of blogs posts about why I did things the way I did, from how I transported the dogs to why I kept groups small. I communicated all my unique selling points clearly and consistently.
And people came, and people paid a premium because I was offering something of value that was worth the extra outlay. In a sea of dog walking and daycare services, nobody else was offering what I offered and marketing it in the way I was.
And then life changed again.
There was a pandemic, family life changed, my dog Poppy’s arthritis got worse. And I needed to find a new way to live out my dreams while still aligning my work with my core desires.
Each day as I drove out to the countryside, I’d listen to podcast after podcast about marketing, copywriting, and SEO.
I read a ton, tried different things with my own marketing and eventually signed up to a copywriting coaching course.
The rest as they say is history!
The idea behind this discussion is not that you shouldn’t look to grow your income or even your business, but that it’s not always the most obvious route that will make you happiest.
What if you didn’t have to do it all?
What if instead of following the traditional route of scaling with staff and becoming a CEO, you stayed true to what led you to set up your own business.
What if instead of trying to do it all, you did things differently?
What would that look like? And crucially, what would it feel like?
Think back to what motivated you to take the path less travelled and work for yourself. And reground yourself in your why.
Then consider the various routes you could take to scale your business, while staying true to why you began the entrepreneur/self-employed journey in the first place.
3 effective ways to grow your business
There are three key ways to achieve business growth
- Increase the number of customers
- Increase the spend per customer
- Increase the frequency of transactions
Typically, if you’re going to increase the number of customers, you’re going to need staff to help you manage the increased workload. But what if instead you could increase the spend per customer AND the frequency of transactions.
For example, with my doggy daycare model, I not only charged more but I also had a contract which meant customers paid for their days whether they used them or not. This meant I had a steady, reliable income regardless of whether they used the service or not.
To increase the frequency of transactions, I added extra services such as occasional weekend adventure walks, evening visits (which allowed owners to go out!) and overnight petsitting.
Getting your positioning right
Now, I’m by no means jumping on the bandwagon and suggesting the answer to all your business growth dreams is as simple as whacking your prices up.
If you want to charge a premium, then you have to work on your positioning and your marketing.
• Focus on providing high-quality products or services that solve your customer’s problems
• Develop a unique positioning statement that captures your brand’s strengths
• Establish a competitive advantage by offering something that sets you apart from your competition
• Build trust with customers by demonstrating expertise and consistency – blogs are great for this
• Showcase your product or service through effective marketing
• Offer value-added services to increase the frequency of transactions
Growing your business without losing focus
If you stay grounded in your why, you’ll never go far wrong. You don’t have to take the conventional, well trodden path to be successful.
There are a zillion ways of doing things, and none of them are right or wrong. It’s about what feels right to you and fits with your core values and lifestyle.
I hope this post has served to give you some inspiration and regrounding in what YOU want your life to look like. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!