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Grow Smart Actionable Ideas for Small Business Owners

March 12, 2013

As a small business owner, it's vital you take care of the day-to-day operational details while keeping an eye on the big picture. Keeping up with the daily demands of business and planning for future growth can be a tough task; how can you manage both aspects when you may be overwhelmed by what's required to do each? You can hire people to help, but paying out more salaries isn't always a useful expansion path. Some companies are hiring freelancers and outsourcing project work, but occasionally this leads to workload bottlenecks, where the work is either wrong or delayed.

Recently, the Small Business Administration announced new regulation proposals aimed at helping small business get loans. These new streamlining measures, if enacted, are expected to help small businesses gain access to capital and reduce the paperwork required by borrowers and lenders of SBA-backed loans. One of the proposals involves the elimination of the so-called Personal Resource Test. Small business borrowers currently are required to keep a certain amount of money on hand to get a 7(a) or 504 loan. The new proposal eliminates this requirement. By doing so, borrowers will gain access to business funds in a streamlined, easier loan process.

Other methods for tackling small business challenges exist, too. We've compiled a few tips below to help you chart your course along the small business highway.

Manage Costs

As your small business grows, unexpected costs may arise at any time. In cases where additional funds are needed, a backup business credit card such as American Express is a handy asset; it can help you handle unexpected costs for transportation, product outsourcing or equipment repair and replacement. Plus, the back-end system compiles your payment activity, helping you track costs and revenue as you grow.

Increase Your Social Media Presence

Social media is generally regarded as one part of an overall marketing plan, but for some cash-lean startups, it may be the only marketing they do. The best social media practices enable small business owners to build online word-of-mouth and develop brand loyalty.

Get social media profiles in place and work them diligently. Pay attention to your efforts. After a month or two, check to see if your increased social media presence is benefiting the brand and the business. Too many companies set up  without knowing what result they want to see. Ask yourself or your team a few of these questions: What's the mission of our social media? Do we want to engage customers with tips and answers? Do we want to drive users to our website to order products? How often can your team make updates to social networks, so customers think more about your brand or business? What do you want to happen?

In addition, if you need to bolster your social media presence in your existing market, you may want to hire a freelance social media expert who can work remotely.

Customer Relationship Management Software

It's important small businesses start with good customer relationship management (CRM) software. More small businesses are seeing how CRM software can help them manage their customer information including prospects, lead generation, ordering information and more. There are a number of various CRM vendors that offer customer management solutions to small businesses. Talk to several vendors to get some feedback on your business strategy.

Plan for Growth

Planning for strategic growth helps you figure out what's best for your future business needs. If you're seeking to expand into new geographic markets, for example, find regional or city consultants in the market for insight into how to best make your approach. Perhaps you run a group of entertainment establishments, where customers with eat, drink and play games. If you're looking to expand, do you seek new real estate opportunities? Should you talk to local consultants to find willing partners to share costly space? Where do you turn? In this example, you'll need to know the demographics in your new chosen location and you might be able to find that from that city's business consultants and coaches.

Invest Time With a Business Coach

Business coaches often find areas of insight that owners can't see, and having an outside perspective often helps immeasurably. A business coach will help you develop a long-term vision for your business, show you how to better focus on your critical mission and point out what areas of business aren't necessary. They'll help you develop a plan for success.

Using these tips can help you grow your small business and add a vision and critical mission to your upcoming growth and expansion.

Tags: Small Business, Goals, Growth, ROI,

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