Entrepreneurs start businesses with a vision to fulfil a need currently not being met in the market.
As they grow their businesses, they can often feel alone and struggle to get the expert insights that can make a difference and accelerate their growth.
The brutal truth can often be that the realities of cash flow, people management, marketing, technology and risk management can feel overwhelming. And trusted advisors can be hard to find or too expensive to fund.
As part of NSW Small Business Month, organised by the NSW Government, we’re staging two special workshops designed to give businesses some insights into these challenges.
We’ve brought together some of the best small business thinkers, in partnership with Google and Microsoft Reactor, who will reveal secrets that any SMB can adopt to accelerate growth. Our focus is to provide what every business owner craves – practical insights and real-world, actionable steps they can use to grow businesses faster.
Here are six things that any business can consider, that will make a difference, from some of the speakers at these two events.
Plan for the future, not just tomorrow
Leanne Berry, Director of a number of small businesses, including her own company Love Your Numbers, and the Australian Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, says that small businesses need to plan for the future, now.
“As a young company, don’t fall into the trap of choosing systems that work for you today and tomorrow: choose systems that will work for you in five years’ time. Integrate your systems so your business can flourish, and plan that integration before you start.”
Create a culture with a bias for performance and action
Vanessa Giannos, CEO of The HR Experts Internal, believes that too many businesses regard company culture as something of a cliche. “It’s not,” she says. “A strong culture can have a strong bias for performance and action. Employees are then empowered and passionate about the success of the company. Engaged employees will constantly come up with innovative ideas on how to make the business better, or to grow the business.”
When it comes to risk, consider the cost of not taking preventive action
Carole-Anne Priest is CEO and co-founder of business insurance company Imalia. She says that business insurance planning is often left at the margins of small businesses, increasing the risk. “Think of insurance as a business enabler, not an overhead, “ she says. “Insurance can be a cost-effective financial investment. If the cost of replacement far outweighs the cost of insurance, you’re ahead. And if by being insured you can continue to exploit your assets, and management support in the event something happens to you, you can still create sustainable growth and new opportunities.”
Use data to make better decisions
Henry Reith is the co-owner, Managing Director and Chief Marketer of Oh Crap (compostable doggy doo-doo bags): “The most-valuable thing in business is to know where to look in your business. We can make decisions about investment and marketing with confidence because we know where to gain insights. For example, our data told us that those who signed up to enter competitions we ran early on in our program never bought anything, and became annoyed when we emailed them. We changed our paid strategy and focused on genuine dog-lovers as a result.”
Create time to growth-hack
Gavin Heaton, Founder of Disruptors Co, says that growth-hacks can work for any business – as long as you make time to think. “If you create time to think, and the systems and structures required to deliver, any business can growth-hack. Most companies need to change their foundations at some point to become better at delivering to customers. Growth-hacks do this by changing foundations without breaking the company. But you need to develop that growth-hack mentality.”
Create real-time data-driven marketing programs
Finally, to our own area of expertise – digital marketing. Every small business can take advantage of digital marketing – because customers actively use social and search media to discover solutions to their needs and wants.
Digital marketing provides businesses a way to reach customers in a sustainable, meaningful way, by deploying real-time data-driven, and personalised, marketing programs. Content and conversion insights aid better decisions about where to invest. They help business owners understand what resonates with customers, all the way from how the brand first engages with customers, and how they discover you, through to making sure that consideration, nurture and sales conversion programs are they best they can be.
At Digivizer, we’ve worked with global multinationals, medium-sized businesses, early-growth companies, and some of Australia’s newest startups. One thing unites them all: taking a data-driven approach to digital marketing generates better results, creates exciting customer experiences, accelerates their growth, and improves their ROI. They have created sustainable customer-centric cultures, and have learned how to growth-hack in creative new ways.
Emma Lo Russo is the CEO of Digivizer. Digivizer’s events are on Thursday 24 October, and Wednesday 30 October, at the Microsoft Reactor at Sydney’s Startup Hub. Both events are free.