9 ways to grow a small business from new targets, products to subscriptions – USA TODAY

Of all the questions I’m asked by small business owners, most come down to this: “How do I make more money?”
Sure, there’s lots of other things you’d like in your small business – to work fewer hours, have more security, be able to take a vacation, or retire one day. But even those issues come down to how much money you make.
So, if you want to make more money in your small business, what can you do? What really works?
Make more sales is the first example. “Duh!” I hear you saying. Anyone knows that to make more money you need more sales. But a whole lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners really don’t like getting out there and actually asking someone to buy what they’re selling.
Sure, we love creating our products or services, finding ways to cut costs, even coming up with cool marketing ideas. But if you’re not out there selling, you can’t make more money.
It takes a lot of time (and money!) to acquire is a customer. So once you have a customer, see if you can find more stuff or services to sell each one.
For instance, most hairdressers have learned that in addition to selling hair care services, they sell hair care products (often comprising 20% or more of their revenue). Can you learn from hairdressers by selling more related products or services to your customers?
This, too, seems pretty obvious. But many businesspeople overlook the fact that it takes virtually the same effort to make a big sale as a small one. Can you find a way to change your product or service offerings so that you’ve got options for customers at higher price points? Many customers feel good buying “premium” versions of products or services.
I was a business plan consultant before I wrote my book on business planning, “Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies.” But I realized as a consultant, I was selling my time, and that was limited. Instead, I turned my service into a product – a book, that has sold over two million copies!
You don’t have to write a book, but look for ways to make your service more like a product. For example, many lawyers have an “estate planning package” – that includes a certain number of hours of consulting plus a will, a trust, and so on.
You know all those subscriptions you have that you’ve never canceled? Not just your gym membership! Subscriptions are the holy grail of business models because of high customer retention and ongoing income.
Brainstorm ways you turn your one-time or occasional service into an ongoing purchasing program.
Are you targeting the customers most likely to buy and to buy big? Have you just concentrated your sales efforts on the same type of customers just because that’s who you’ve always sold to in the past? Consider whether there other market segments that might buy more frequently or make bigger purchases than your current customers.
It’s hard to grow alone. When you work solo, it means you have to do everything. If you’re good at making sales, get out there and make sales, and hire a part-time administrative assistant to do the paperwork.
If you’re good at providing your service, then hire someone to go out and make sales. Maximize your earning potential by using your own time in the most productive way.
Before you go off in all directions, make a thoughtful plan on how to grow your business. The harsh truth is you won’t get rich overnight, so it’s important to know that you’re heading in the right direction.
Think through your options, your budget, and your goals, then decide on a course of action. Stick to it. The money will follow.
If what you’re doing isn’t working, why not? Are you selling the wrong product or service? Charging too much? Not doing enough marketing? Has your market changed while you’re still doing the same old/same old?
Sit down and analyze what’s not working. Change is the one constant in life – even small business life.
Rhonda Abrams is widely recognized as one of America’s leading small business experts. A “Top 30 Global Guru” for Startups, her book “Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies” was named one of the 100 best business strategy books of all time. Connect with Rhonda at facebook.com/MeetRhonda; Instagram and Twitter @RhondaAbrams.
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