For some people, having a small company suits them fine but, if you're keen to grow and develop your business, there are a number of things you can incorporate into your strategic plan to help you get there.
First of all, reach out to other companies that you admire. You don't necessarily have to speak to someone else in your sector because business advice and principles often apply across the board. Everyone can have the same problems and people love to talk about their past experiences, meaning you can learn from their mistakes and take notes on what has worked well. Be confident in asking for advice. Where possible, try to grow your company using your own money because this way you're guaranteed to stay in control. In the early years of Crafter's Companion, we had some quite ambitious growth plans but rather than bringing in investors to help with these measures, we chose to invest our profits back into the business. We supported ourselves and it worked well.
Another step you can take to develop your business is to spend some quality time really getting to know your customers. Understanding what they want, what they like, what they don't like and what sells well can help to form the base of your product development strategy. Creating a customer loyalty scheme is also a great way of keeping customers invested and is a nice way of thanking them for choosing your products, time and time again.
Customers love to be involved and their feedback can be extremely valuable because then you can start to plan to stay ahead of the curve. When the relationship between your company and your customer base is a winning formula, it leaves more room to identify other opportunities.
Exploring partnerships with third parties and retailers is a great way to expand your business, especially if these outlets enable you to reach a larger audience either geographically, or a customer base outside of your current industry. The key to winning new contracts is presenting people with an offer they can't refuse. Demonstrating amazing figures, strong social media followings and positive customer feedback to potential customers are fantastic ways to seal the deal.
If you haven't already, taking your business online is a natural step in growing your business. Investing in a transactional site can open you up to a new audience of customers and makes you more accessible. In addition to this, generally elevating your business look and feel online can help to take your business to the next level. Investing in professional photography and using this across social media platforms, as well as transactional websites can help to sell your products. When posting on social media, it's important to post regularly and to engage with your followers. Maintaining your presence and responding to comments will help you to stay relevant and will build customer satisfaction. As I mentioned earlier, it's also a great way of tapping into what your customers think about your products.
Finally, do more of what has worked so far! It sounds obvious but anything that has helped you to succeed should stay part of your business plan, growing and developing your company just requires you to fine tune certain elements and make sure that you are well-equipped to explore some exciting new opportunities.
Sara Davies MBE is founder of Crafter's Companion.