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How to Grow Your Business in 2018

January 2018
Matthew Larcome

Twelve months and two weeks ago you made a promise. And I’m prepared to put a hefty wager on the fact that you broke that promise…

As the world celebrated the end of 2016, we all looked ahead to the new year.

Some of you, no doubt, made a promise to yourself to grow your business and to make 2017 your best year ever. Some of you, and you know who you are, didn’t in fact grow – you simply survived.

So what changes are you going to make to stick to that very same promise this time round?

In 2018 and at this time of year, there is no shortage of people queuing up to tell you how to grow your business. You see it all over social media. Just like personal trainers, January sees a flourish of so-called business coaches come out of their spare-room bedroom offices with endless lists of new ideas and recommendations on how you can get your business fit and healthy.

The truth of the matter though is simple, as there are only a few ways you can grow a business. Perhaps only three.

It’s a bit like losing weight. Most of us don’t need personal trainers, if we’re motivated enough to reach our goals, and can become healthier by doing three simple things: eating less of the wrong foods, eating more of the right foods and doing more exercise.

And it’s the same in business, but instead of losing weight, we want to put weight on. We want to grow, expand and loosen the belt to allow more customers in.

So, how do I grow my business in 2018? Here’s three simply exercises you can do right now, to start seeing instant results…

#1 – Increase the number of customers you have #2 – Increase the average spend of your customers #3 – Increase how often your customers buy from you

You’ve probably heard of these before or know them already. But you’d be surprised at how many business owners forget the basics, especially when being pulled in all different directions.

Ignoring everything else for a minute, I want to make you a promise. A promise that I promise I’m going to stick to – unlike the old you from way back… I guarantee that if you focus on these three things, or perhaps even just two, you will see significant growth in your business, bottom line and your personal bank balance.

Let’s go through each of these workouts step by step…

#1 – Increase the number of customers you have

Start by working out how many customers you had last year. You simply cannot do this exercise without knowing this figure. It’s a bit like losing weight. Without knowing how much you currently weigh, you wouldn’t have anything to go by and you wouldn’t know how much weight to lose each week or month to achieve your goal.

Let’s say in 2017 you had 75 customers – this is our starting position. Now decide how many customers you’d like to serve this year, for example: 100 customers.

In order to get more customers, you need to focus on a couple of things:

1.    Do more marketing to attract new customers

2.    Ask for more referrals from your existing customers

3.    Follow-up more vigorously with inbound enquiries

4.    And lastly, do more to keep the customers you already have

In my experience, most people lack the ability to focus and that’s what you are going to need to do in order to succeed. By focusing on just these four elements, you’ll make great progress on getting more customers.

#2 – Increase the average spend of your customers

Perhaps you decide against getting more customers. Don’t ask me why, but for some businesses there is a limit to how many people you can serve. It’s a bit like that at our business expos. We can’t just add more stands if there isn’t the space at the venues we use. So, instead of focusing on how to get more customers, focus on increasing your average customer spend.

You can do this in two ways. Firstly, you can put up your prices, or you can choose to upsell to your existing customers – ideally, you’d try both!

Over time we have increased our prices and continue to do so to this day. At first, I was nervous and worried about losing customers and getting complaints. But in reality, it didn’t happen. Increasing our prices simply helped to increase our average customer spend and our profit margins.

If you’ve read my book, you’ll know that my dad’s a window-cleaner. For years I’ve told him to increase his prices by £1 or even 50p for each of his customers. His business has well over 200 customers, so by increasing his prices by just 50p, he’d generate an additional £100 profit each week. That’s an extra £400 a month. A whopping £4,800 over a year!

Yes, some people may not like the price increase, but for every one person who mentions it, nine of your customers won’t bat an eyelid. They simply won’t care. To them it’s only 50p, but to you, it’s a two-week holiday to the Maldives; a brand-new car or just extra pocket money to spend on your family.

The second-best way to increase your average customer value is to upsell. I recently went to the Harvester with a friend – please don’t judge me – and when I ordered by usual BBQ Chicken and Rib Combo, the waiter asked if I’d like to double-up on chips for a £1.

This is a great upsell question and, so I was encouraged to spend more. Asking questions like that in your business is just as simple and effective. Think about your business and come up with three or four other products or services you can upsell to customers, just by asking them.

#3 – Increase how often your customers buy from you

Getting your customers to buy from you more often is another neat way to grow your business. Most business owners spend more time on getting new customers, than actually approaching past customers. Attracting new customers is in fact more expensive and harder, because you’ve got to go through each of the know, like and trust stages and that takes time and money.

Reactivating customers that have already purchased from you is by far the best and quickest way to increase sales.

Encourage customers to buy from you again by running a special time-sensitive offer. We are currently offering an earlybird discount for previous customers that book a stand – and you could do the same thing for your product, service, workshop or event.

Another guaranteed way to increase how often customers by from you is to do more of what you do. For instance, we can only sell a limited number of stands at each event, so in order for me to increase how often customers return to buy from us, I have to organise more business expos – and the same principle applies to you.

So, there you have it! Three sure-fire ways to grow your business in 2018. It’s all pretty simple if you think about it, but the fact is, most entrepreneurs right now aren’t thinking about this at all. There’ll be people reading this now, who’ll get to the end and do nothing with these techniques. And to be honest, those people were the same people who didn’t stick to last year’s new year’s resolutions.

But who cares about those wannabes, I care about you. I want to know what you’re going to do this year.

In less than eleven months and two weeks, the world will be celebrating the end of 2018, and looking ahead to a new year. Many people will again get by – but now is the time to make changes and to stick to your promises.

I don’t want you to simply survive another year, I want you to thrive!