Some Irish businesses experience growth in the economy when activity is booming or when the economy has more difficult trading conditions. This obviously depends on many factors, but regardless of how your business performs, the following tips can be useful to consider when looking to grow your business.
1. Use technology to improve efficiencies
There is a great deal of free technology (tools and applications) that can help save you time, enhance productivity and lower your operational expenses.
For example, Dropbox can enable you to save files in the cloud and Skype allows you make calls (video and voice) with screen sharing functionality to allow for demonstration purposes.
2. Communicate better
Consistently take a friendly but professional approach to all kind of customer interaction. This can include sending out statements, quotations and emails. This can be an ideal opportunity for branding. Create guidelines for your team when dealing with customers (be clear on what NOT to say). Reply to all communication as soon as possible. If you take too long to respond to an enquiry, you might lose a potential client to a competitor. Consider a quick response time of 1 to 2 hours.
Try writing a blog or column about your business including insights (just as we do here at Gahan.ie).
3. Become better all the time
Even if your services and products are selling well, always look out for new ways to refine your business in other areas. Organise regular brainstorming sessions and encourage employees to talk about their thoughts on ways to enhance products or solutions. Hire and listen to the people that are better than you.
4. Limit your credit exposure
For orders that new customers make, ensure your customer completes a credit application form and that they are clear on credit terms. Encourage your customers to make payment online. Be fair but tough when needed.
5. Keep up to date records
If you're selling goods, maintain a record of every product sold and ensure you are aware of just how much inventory you have (if inventory is relevant). Use your CRM for future follow-ups by recording customers' names and set up a system for communicating with these individuals where appropriate.
6. Join business networking groups/ business associations
Business organisations, events and associations give you access to business owners/ partners within your chosen marketplace for a yearly membership fee. They hold regular events, seminars, short courses and media evenings that can be incredibly valuable for meeting other business owners and learning more about your industry. Find the most suitable for your business
7. Develop a website
An effective website that performs has to be functional and communicate your value proposition Define what goals you wish to achieve and build the site to match that need.
8. Manage your time effectively
Take note of what you are spending your time on each day. Some tasks could be consolidated, or completed at a specific time each week if they are to be repeated.
Use mobile "time management" apps to ensure that you are completing all tasks on time.
9. Purchase good quality business cards (and use them where possible)
Take advantage of an opportunity to hand out your business card once you meet new people at networking events, seminars and business seminars/ conferences.
10. Generate referrals
If your customers are an advocate of what you do, ask them for referrals when the time is right. Don't force it or jeopardise your working relationship if the time is not right (i.e in the middle of an important deadline you are working to).