But then, after two years, I started hiring employees. After four years, our reputation as a tech-focused PR firm was strong; word-of-mouth referrals, in addition to a robust marketing program, led to increasing growth. And today, after six years, our monthly revenue is now 100 times what it was in those first few tenuous months.
Getting here hasn't been easy. But, with a few key strategies, we have shown our value, increased our pricing and grown our customer base. Here’s how we grew our revenue a hundred-fold over the course of just six years:
1. Hustle, hustle, hustle.
New business isn’t going to just show up -- it’s going to take a lot of hard work and networking. Be creative and driven about tracking down new business and retaining that new business by delivering results and keeping clients happy.
Reach out to existing contacts and network to find new ones. Go to industry events. Meet people on social media. Participate in conversations and get known among the industry influencers and players. Be available for emails, phone calls and meetings in person with potential clients. Networking will deliver leads.
2. Pick a niche.
Imagine a patient who has extreme shoulder pain. Should he go to his general practitioner, who knows a little bit about every area of medicine, or to an orthopedist or other specialist? It’s not a trick question. The patient is going to visit the specialist.
In business, the client is going to attract customers to the company that specializes in what they need. Rather than be a generalist and knowledgeable about only a few different areas, be an expert in just one.
Become the go-to authority in a niche, and after a few years, expand into other niches. But, starting with one speciality is critical. After one year, I decided to focus my company solely on PR services, rather than the suite of marketing services we'd previously offered. One year later, I decided to focus exclusively on the tech sector. These decisions paid off; now we are recognized as a leading boutique tech PR agency.
3. Differentiate the business.
To grow, a business needs to stand apart from the competition. Established businesses already have reputations, references, case studies and brand names. New businesses have to compete without these advantages. To really stand out among already-established competitors, offer something unique -- whether that means a new kind of pricing model, a new product or service or another value-added differentiator.
4. Have a strong offering.
The best way to grow a business is by word-of-mouth. And when customers are happy, they talk. That talk can make or break a business.
In fact, a 2014 survey of 150 B2B buyers conducted by Demand Gen found that 53 percent of respondents said they relied more on peer recommendations to make purchasing decisions, compared with just 19 percent in 2012.
A great product or service will make customers happy and likely to spread the word and recommend the business to others. A solid offering will keep current clients and bring more customers through their networks. Establish a strong core client base and keep its members happy, in order to secure existing and new business.
5. Hire great people.
A company can be carried by one person for only so long. Bring on great people to grow the business and help take it to the next level.
Skills are important when making hiring decisions, but so is cultural fit. People set the tone and heart of the company, and any business is only as good as its team.
What do you think? What’s the most important thing new businesses need to do to grow their profits?