Learning how to grow your business isn’t just a worthy goal; growing your business is often a necessity for your business’s survival and your economic well-being. What can you do to get your business beyond the bare sustenance level? What can you do to turn it into the income-generating powerhouse you envision? Try one or more of these growth strategies.

1. Penetrate your existing market

When you think about how to grow your business, the first thing that probably comes to mind is getting new customers. But the customers you already have are your best bet for increasing your sales; it’s easier and more cost-effective to get people who are already buying from you to buy more than to find new customers and persuade them to buy from you.

2. Ask for referrals

That’s not to say that getting new customers is a bad approach. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask your current customers for referrals. But notice the verb. Having good products and great customer service and just assuming that your customers are passing the word about your business isn’t going to do much to increase your customer base; you have to actively seek referrals.

3. Innovate your product or service

Discovering and promoting new uses for your products or services is a great way to both get existing customers to buy more and attract new customers. Think petroleum jelly and duct tape—and how few of these would actually be sold if they only had one use!

4. Extend your market reach

There are several ways of growing your business by making your product or service available to a new pool of customers. The most obvious is to open stores in new locations, such as opening a store or kiosk in a new town. New locations can also be virtual, such as a website with an online store.

5. Participate in trade shows

Trade shows can be a great way to grow too. Because trade shows draw people who are already interested in the type of product or service you offer, they can powerfully improve your bottom line. The trick is to select the trade shows you participate in carefully, seeking the right match for your product or service. Trade Show Tips will help you get the best return on your investment.

6. Conquer a niche market

Remember the analogy of the big fish in the small pond? That’s essentially how this strategy for growing your business works. The niche market is the pond; a narrowly defined group of customers. Think of them as a subset whose needs are not being met and concentrate on meeting those unmet needs.

7. Contain your costs

Surprised? Bear in mind that when we’re talking about growing your business, we’re actually talking about growing your business’s bottom line. And the difference between pre-tax and post-tax money can make this a very effective growth strategy.

8. Diversify your products or services

The key to successful growth through diversification is similarity. You want to focus on the related needs of your already established market or on market segments with similar needs and characteristics.

9. Franchising

The stories of entrepreneurs who have become both well known and well heeled due to franchising their small businesses are legion – and not just stories. If you have a successful business and can develop a system that ensures that others can duplicate your success, franchising may be the fast track for growing your business.

10. Exporting

Expanding into international markets can also be a powerful boost to your business’s bottom line. Like franchising, this is a way of growing your business that requires quite a commitment of time and resources, but can be extremely rewarding.

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