Being a small business can be difficult at times; there’s no doubt about that. But there is also a great sense of reward that comes with the beginning stages of a business; there is no greater feeling than accomplishing your goals, proving yourself, and building something amazing from the ground up. That’s why we’ve decided to put together our six most important tips and tricks for small business growth.
1. Clarify your company’s purpose
Your purpose is like your company’s root cause. Identifying this will allow you to create meaningful work, rather than just checking boxes and “winging it.” It’s what will drive you every day, and will guide you throughout your journey.
The first question to ask yourself and your team when clarifying your purpose is, “What do you care about?” Regardless of your team size, you should book time alone to identify the problem you’d like to solve with your business. Then, you can come together as a group to share your thoughts, ask challenging questions, get inspired, and establish your collective purpose. We call this process “soul searching,” and it’s incredibly helpful in emphasizing why you’ve created this business in the first place.
Now, if you do not feel an emotional connection to your purpose, it will be hard for you to get excited and truly enjoy your work. It will also make it more challenging for others to rally around your root purpose. So, before reaching the next step, consider what your identified purpose means to you! What makes you tick, and what inspires you? We believe that the moment we lose passion for our purpose, we will need to do some reevaluating.
2. Establish your internal priorities
There are so many things you could be doing with your time — the list goes on forever. But we know how scarce our time and resources are. So, we address this problem by defining our needs and prioritizing them based on our goals.
When you’re establishing priorities, answer the questions, “What is our criteria for success?” “What is a ‘must-have’ and what is ‘nice to have’?” and “How will our needs and wants contribute to our goals?” Your priorities should be so incredibly clear, and will help you focus so that you’re moving in the right direction.
Once you’ve established your priorities, it’s now time to align your resources back to your priorities; this means rearranging where your money, time, and energy are being spent. Pick and choose your battles; there is always lots of work to be done.
3. Trust your gut instinct
As a small business, you’ll make many decisions based on intuition rather than wisdom. This is why clearly defining your values and purpose is so important — your decisions will be based on these aspects as opposed to previous experiences. So, we don’t define a “gut decision” like most do — it’s not an action taken solely based on our instincts. Instead, it’s an intentional decision based on thoughtful and justified approaches when facing a situation that our business has never encountered before. We may feel like we’re going in blind, but this doesn’t mean our decision is unjustified.
When making decisions, there is nothing wrong with asking for feedback from outside sources — but you may have to take their advice with a grain of salt, because what feels right for someone else may not be the best option for you. Other people’s insight allows you to make more sound decisions, and helps you contemplate problems you may not have thought about yet. But at the end of the day, it is often best to just go with whatever you think is the right decision.
Note that not every gut decision becomes a success story, which is completely okay. Bad decisions end up becoming learning opportunities, leading to future success — so if your gut turns out to be wrong once in a while, don’t let it get you down. What matters is that you’re purposeful with your decision-making.
4. Overdeliver for your clients
Unfortunately, in today’s society, small businesses need to work ten times harder in order to receive the same amount of success and acknowledgement as large businesses, because they have not yet established credibility, infrastructure, and trust. On top of that, large businesses have seen industry and environmental changes through, putting startups at a further disadvantage. Take COVID, for example; it affected small businesses much more heavily than large businesses — because they’re often not strong or large enough to be able to withhold such a heavy roadblock. So, in our books, overdelivering is the number-one way to separate yourself. It’s how small businesses can have an advantage over large businesses, and it’s the perfect way to impress your clients.
How can a small business overdeliver for their clients? If you promise to complete a task, deliver more than what you have promised. Assume that your consumer is skeptical about your abilities to deliver strong results, and push yourself to exceed their expectations. In addition to overdelivering on the end product, you should also consistently overdeliver in every aspect of your customer experience, including communication strategies, response times, and relationships.
Ultimately, overdelivering comes down to surprising your consumers and feeling proud of your work. Your aim is for your consumer to see your work and think, “Wow!” If you have accomplished this, congrats! You now have an incredibly satisfied customer and an increased awareness of your capabilities.
5. Be adaptable and progress your imperfections
As a small business, everything you do is new; you don’t have processes you have been completing for ten years, or a huge team you’ve been working with for awhile. Most times, you won’t complete a task the same way twice, because there will always be something you can improve upon — this is a fact you should be accepting of.
At GreenX, we don’t like to settle or feel comfortable; we’re motivated by our flaws and acknowledge that there is always room for improvement. Our number one priority is constantly improving for our clients. So, after you’ve completed your work, it’s important to ask yourself, “How can we do this differently next time? How can we do it better?” This means lots of change — but it also means plenty of improvement and growth.
It’s worth noting that being self-aware when evaluating your work can be incredibly difficult. There are various angles to examine when criticizing your work, and it’s hard to be objective. Take a step back and try to look at the work as if it is not your own; the more you separate yourself from the work during the constructive criticism process, the more noteworthy your suggested improvements will be. However, you won’t be able to figure everything out all at once, so don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis and never let perfectionism hold you back.
6. Invest in your learning
An essential part of growth is committing to extracurricular learning. You should be constantly expanding on your current knowledge, because the more you know, the less blind spots you will have.
In December 2020, the GreenX media team took a month-long break from client work to focus on learning. We spent this time evaluating our processes, conducting research, and having thoughtful discussions with industry experts to further learn about the services we offer. This was a refreshing and fascinating experience that increased our understanding of our constantly changing landscape.
You don’t necessarily need to take a long hiatus from client work in order to grow your knowledge, though. There are plenty of ways in which you can conduct day-to-day learnings. We recommend watching webinars, listening to podcasts, and exploring various online learning platforms (such as Skillshare). Be open-minded and just explore!
Utilizing these platforms will keep you well-informed, and will allow you to consistently grow your abilities. Also, after taking time to learn, you’ll transition from reacting to circumstances to anticipating consequences. If you have the knowledge to anticipate a consequence, you can prepare and plan, putting you ahead of the curve. But, before going off to learn on your own, ensure that your whole company is growing together and learning from each other. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link — that’s why your entire team should be learning and working together to improve.
Remember, as much as completing tasks is important, you should also be enjoying the journey — the messy parts, the scary parts, and the fun parts. All of your work should be worth it in the end because you’re doing it for an amazing reason.