Whether you’ve been in business a while now or you’re just getting started, it’s important to look for ways to continue to grow your business. While growth means different things to different businesses there are some things that everyone agrees are important, like the importance of getting a strong return on your investments. Here we’re highlighting a checklist of five things that every business can do to scale.
Remember, growing your business doesn’t necessarily mean expanding your workforce. One of your goals should be identifying high-reward changes that are likely to lead to large gains with minimal investment. If you don’t have a certain skill set in-house, consider turning to freelance experts, who can help you quickly meet new challenges and opportunities.
1. Identify your key metrics
There are lots of ways a company can grow, from bringing on additional talent to expand operations, increase revenue, broaden your user or customer base, launch a new product, or enter a new market. Whatever you’re going for, the best way to gauge your progress is by clearly defining key metrics and goals.
Deciding on key metrics isn’t just about setting a bar to reach, it’s about focusing on one or two things to the exclusion of others. When you’re running a business, focus is key to long-term success, so spend it wisely. Certain businesses may value daily active users over revenue, others may be focused on increasing customer lifetime value or their brand’s presence on social channels.
If you’re not sure where to start in identifying metrics and business goals, you might consider engaging a startup consultant. If you’re trying to scale a digital business quickly, you might want to talk to a growth hacking expert.
2. GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
Every business aims to satisfy the needs or wants of their customers, but if you don’t know your customers, how can you know what they want? Analytics can help turn business questions into actionable projects based on user data. Whether you’re interested in web or mobile analytics, you’re likely going to want to implement some form of event tracking.
Some analytics tools are specifically geared toward developers, while others emphasize value for the marketing team. Choosing the right tool for your business depends on the questions you’re trying to answer. (Remember, these should be related to those key metrics you’ve already identified.) Whatever type of tool you go with, you’ll want to make sure you have professional data engineers to get tracking set up and interpret the data once it rolls in.
3. Implement user testing
It’s been said that a good product can sell itself. Whether that’s an exaggeration or not, one of the best ways to get more people using your product or service is by making it better. But how do you know what needs to be improved? One answer is by rigorous user testing.
There are lots of potential upsides to user testing: It helps you catch bugs and flaws early on when they’re cheapest to fix and shows you how your users actually use your product. This can lead to higher engagement, greater retention, and reduced development and customer support costs.
That said, running a high-quality user test is more complicated than just sending out a bunch of beta versions. Depending on your product and goals, it might involve numerous brief tests, hour-long moderated sessions, or something in between. You may want to consider engaging a user-testing expert to help design and conduct the right kind of user tests for your app.
4. Improve your SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) can look more like an art than a science. That said, there are concrete steps you can take to improve your search results, however. If you’re already creating high-quality, engaging content, you might consider getting an SEO tool or engaging an SEO expert to help improve your on-site and off-site SEO.
On-site SEO deals with factors you can control yourself, from making sure your content is unique and valuable to crafting URLs that are real humans can read to optimizing your load-times and shareability. Off-site SEO covers actions taken off-site to improve your search results, such as backlink research, which can help you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for. The main goal of off-site SEO is getting other high-quality websites to link to your content, essentially using their own credibility to vouch for yours.
There are a lot of SEO tools out there, ranging from specialized tools focused on one or two things to fully featured suites that can do just about everything. Since startups and SMBs are usually working on a tight budget, look at what features you need, and then look at what you’re willing and able to spend to get those. Keep in mind that if SEO is a key part of your growth strategy, hiring an SEO specialist might be the right path for you.
5. BRING YOUR PRODUCT TO MOBILE
It’s important to reach your customers and users where they are, and increasingly that means reaching them on their mobile devices. That said, getting the same app onto different platforms is a tricky balancing act between cost, complexity, and performance.
Should you develop multiple native apps to ensure that your app runs as smoothly as possible while taking advantage of all the hardware and OS features available on different platforms? Or should you go with a mobile web implementation to keep your codebase manageable? What about cross-platform app development frameworks? These are the kinds of questions you’ll want to consider. Whatever you choose, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the expertise to build that experience. That could include mobile developers and UX designers.
Keep in mind, these 5 tips are just meant to get you started thinking about ways to scale your business. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks for growing a small business, check out some of our guides to starting up.
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