Seven ways to take your business to the next level

More talented, inspired, hard working women are setting up their own businesses every year, and discovering the rewards that can come from being your own boss.

Many start up entrepreneurs take on most of the roles themselves when a business is in its infancy, or they act as sole traders operating every aspect of the business. This can make good sense, as it means that overheads can be kept low while you grow your enterprise.

But eventually there will come a time when you want to grow your business into a larger concern that can bring real financial rewards for yourself and others.

If you’ve reached that point now, take a look at our seven-point guide to levelling up your business – from attending management courses to growing your brand and wowing customers.

1) Find your star product

To be successful, a business needs great people, great marketing, great drive and a great product or service. We live in an increasingly competitive business world, so if you want to get noticed, you need to have a star product that the public, or other businesses, will buy time and time again.

To find this star product, you need to consider the problems that potential customers are having, and find a unique solution to them. It can help to sell a product or service that you yourself are passionate about, as that will give you an insight into what’s truly needed and what innovations could be made.

2) When opportunities arrive, act

Every successful businesswoman is always on the lookout for opportunities, and when they arise, they act fast to make the most of their potential. Some start up entrepreneurs, understandably, can be cautious, but being afraid of change can stop you grasping opportunities to grow or move into new books.

The famous business philosophy book Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson has some sage advice, “when the cheese moves, move with it”. In other words, businesses who stay still can be left behind.

3) Take on more staff

You can run a nice little business on your own, but if you want substantial success, you’ll have to take on more staff. Hiring specialist staff in areas such as design, finance, IT, marketing, sales and order processing frees up your time so that you can concentrate on growing your business and taking a strategic approach.

At first it can be worth outsourcing some of the functions of your business, especially if you only need to call upon some skillsets for a short period of time, but for long term growth and staff loyalty, it makes sense to recruit permanent staff. (Here are seven tips to help you find and hire the right people.)

4) Become a great manager

A great business needs a great manager, and this is especially true when you have staff to manage as well. Management doesn’t necessarily come easy to entrepreneurs and business leaders, but the good news is that it’s a skill that can be learnt.

There are many high quality management training courses available, including First Line Management Training, that can give you the skills you need to develop yourself and your employees if you’re new to management or to running a business.

Many courses are run remotely or over a couple of days, so you don’t need to take a break from your growing business to attend them.

5) Network, network, network

There are always opportunities to network in business, and they can be vitally important when your business is in its infancy. Business seminars, conferences and networking events allow you to meet people who are already succeeding in their field, and this means that you can learn from their best practice.

You may also meet potential customers there, especially if you sell business to business, so always take your business cards and be prepared to talk about how you can help other businesses get what they need. It’s a good idea to contact people you met at networking events via email after the event, but don’t be pushy.

One thing you’ll need at any networking event (and should definitely have ready in case you ever meet a potential client or useful contact out and about) is an elevator pitch. If you don’t have one yet, here’s how to prepare yours.

6) Build your brand

Turning your business into a brand can be a shortcut to long term success. In short, it means gaining a great reputation for your business so that it’s recognised by the public and chosen over your business rivals.

Smart marketing and bold logos and designs are good ways to ensure that you stick in the memory of consumers. You should also post regularly on social media and do all you can to wow customers, whether they are domestic or commercial.

When you do this, they’re much more likely to share your social media posts and tell their friends and colleagues about you; in effect, they’re becoming brand ambassadors, without it costing you a penny.

7) Find the right investment

Growing your business can sometimes involve buying new infrastructure, more stock or larger premises, and that can cost money in the short term. That’s why it can be necessary to seek investment that can lead to greater profitability in the medium to long term.

High street banks are one potential source of money, of course, but it can also be worth turning to business angel investors or even business crowdfunding, a trend which is becoming increasingly popular. To gain investment, you’ll need a strong business plan and a firm idea of what you’re going to use the money for and how it will help to increase your profits.

Photo by Aaron Birch