a few simple ways to grow your small business
Betsy & Francis co-founders Nicole and James share the lessons they’ve learnt while growing their online business.
So, you’ve decided to launch a business. You have a website, a shiny new ABN, a lengthy business plan and a handful of customers, but what comes next? How do you grow your business so that you can reach ‘dream customers’ (i.e., the folks who make you excited to get out of bed in the morning) and, eventually, make a living off doing what you love every day? We asked Nicole Coburn and James Knipe, co-founders of conscious marketing agency Betsy & Francis, to share five top tips for growing a business.
SHOW YOUR FACE Humans want connection in all aspects of their lives (even from businesses) – we relate to each other through emotional connection and personal storytelling. You are your brand’s unique selling point; you make your business stand apart from the competition. It will feel awkward and icky at first (it certainly did for us), but leveraging your story and personal journey will help you grow in the first couple of years. We can vouch for this; our highest-performing Instagram posts are always personal stories, including about the trials and tribulations we face within our business.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS YOUR FRIEND It’s nearly impossible for your dream customer to find you through Google alone in today’s saturated market. In the more than six years of running our business, only a tiny percentage of clients have found us through Google, with the majority of customers finding us through social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. When customers approach you through these channels, they tend to have more of an emotional connection to your brand and, over time, turn into loyal members of your community (aka your number one marketers). If you’re using social media for your small business but still feel like you aren’t attracting the customers you’ve worked so hard for, ask yourself: do you have a consistent look online? Are you showing up frequently for your audience and are you creating content that specifically speaks to their struggles? Remember: your business exists to improve your customers’ lives, so use social media to position your product or service as the only solution, and you’ll soon see a massive shift online.
COMMUNITY IS KEY Start with awareness in your community and growth will follow. We moved from Sydney to Byron Bay three years ago as we were desperately unhappy in our corporate jobs. We gave ourselves 12 months to start a business and make it sustainable enough to lead a new life in the countryside. When we first arrived in Byron (slightly dishevelled and sleep-deprived), we threw ourselves into the deep end to make our dream work – we worked every waking hour and saved every cent to grow and invest in our business. We also attended anything and everything to grow our brand. Being part of a community brought support, friends and growth to our then very fragile business – it was one of the best things we did to enable its longevity. The relationships we built brought (and still carry) support, advice, referrals and inspiration, and we are forever grateful!
DELIGHT YOUR CUSTOMER Your customer might forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Despite the challenges of the past two years, we have seen small-business owners surprise and delight their customers at every turn. Whether it’s a handwritten note, a free fabric bag or a discount code for future purchases, providing a personalised and thoughtful experience brings the ultimate kind of customer – referrals. Referrals are the crème de la crème of customers because they’ve heard about all the great stuff you do from people they trust (like family members or friends), and are therefore more likely to convert into new customers.
HIRE HELP There comes a point where your business cannot grow without help and we learnt this the hard way. After three years of late nights, early mornings and not taking care of ourselves, we were utterly burnt out and exhausted. We decided it was time to bite the bullet and hire help. This turned out to be one of the smartest business decisions we made because it gave us the mental space and clarity to focus on the future of Betsy & Francis, rather than being bogged down by the day-to-day running of it. If you think you need help but are unsure of whether it’s the right time to hire someone, work out how much time you spend on tasks that aren’t moving your business forward. Then, figure out whether you could be bringing in more money by doing the jobs you currently don’t get to (ahem – marketing!). If you hire somebody to take over the parts of your business that are essential (like admin, emails and bookkeeping) but are not profitable, you’ll have more time to market, sell and make more income, which will allow you to pay your new employee and then some.