Growing a small business can be challenging, yet extremely rewarding. And how a small-business leader chooses to scale can determine how their company grows and where it ends up. Organic growth is one such choice that can help a startup grow from within and expand in the most natural manner.
Startups are often low on cash, and therefore need to follow a smart, inexpensive model in order to survive and prosper. Organic growth allows founders to expand their businesses with greater control and very limited liquid capital.
What is Organic Growth?
In simple words, organic growth refers to the growth of a company through internal processes, relying on its own (existing) resources. This method yields tangible results, while keeping employees focused on marketing, sales, customer service and innovation.
Organic growth is usually considered low risk, and it allows business owners to develop new products and attract new customers at a pace that works for them.
Research says that, while it may take more time and effort to grow a business naturally, organic growth typically generates more value. If you look at the share-price performance of 550 American and European companies over 15 years, you’ll see that for all levels of revenue growth, those with more organic growth generated higher returns for shareholders than those that relied more heavily on inorganic growth (which is done via acquisitions, mergers and takeovers). The main reason for this success is simple — businesses don’t have to spend as much money up front for organic growth.
7 Ways to Grow Your Business Organically
Irrespective of how big you are or how much money you have to spend, a systematic and focused plan to organically grow your business, which includes your customer base and your reputation, can deliver huge results.
Here are some tips on how you can grow your business organically.
1. Research Your Target Clientele: According to research, companies that carry out frequent due diligence on their target clients grow two times faster and are more profitable than those that do not. This market research tells you what you don’t already know, which allows you to better focus your marketing efforts based on the actual needs and preferences of your target clients. Data gathered through research helps you reduce the risk of marketing missteps, develop a competitive advantage and create a better position your company. And with established target client preferences in place, you can come up with high-value offers for your target customers and develop a stronger marketing plan.
2. Offer New Products/Services: Launching new products or services — including product extensions — can give your business an instant boost, provided you have thoroughly researched your market and have a clear marketing strategy in place. A good strategy is to introduce a new product or service that complements your existing offering. Here’s how you can get started:
- Make use of market research to identify a gap or need in the market for a new product and/or service.
- Study customer feedback to establish whether there is an immediate need for a product and/or service that supplements your existing offerings.
- Seek the views of your team members about your development plans, as they might have insights that you’ve overlooked.
- Consult your suppliers and other business associates; their specialized expertise and knowledge could be invaluable.
3. Look for New Sales Channels: Finding new sales channels is one of the fastest ways to expand and increase revenues. However, it’s crucial you do this using the right tools and the correct strategy to maximize effectiveness. Some tips on how to develop new sales channels are:
- Sell more to your existing customers. This technique carries very little risk, and can be accomplished by sending emails to your existing customers with, for example, product/service updates, promotions and interesting tips. You could also improve your sales effectiveness by strengthening your sales team’s selling capabilities by implementing goals, enhancing sales processes and improving customer experiences at each touch point. Another way of selling to your existing customer base is by making enhancements to your product/service in order to make your offerings more attractive to them.
- Sell existing products to new customers. For instance, you can tap into a broader audience by selling your products or services online (if your primary mode of sales is brick-and-mortar).
- Expand to new geographic markets or different channels. Usually, selling existing products in new geographies is the quickest form of geographic expansion. However, if you do decide to expand geographically, start small and stick to what you know well (and have researched thoroughly), to limit the risk of the unknown and to make it easier for you to run your new operations using similar procedures and practices. For example, if you run a restaurant in a small town, it’s better to try and break into another small town with similar demographics, household incomes and customer profiles.
4. Invest in Your Website: In this digital age, it’s essential for businesses to have an online presence, because for most potential customers, your website will work as an advertisement for your company.
In addition, converting website visitors into customers can be made easier if your site includes the most important elements, including a simple homepage, landing pages, call to action buttons, testimonials and other tools, so that visitors keep coming back. Make conversion rate optimization and A/B testing part of every element of your website, so that you can fix whatever is not working.
Another important characteristic of your website is search engine optimization (SEO). To rank high in the search results, you must have a mobile friendly and secure (SSL) website, create high-quality content, prioritize user experience (ease of use), employ data analytics (such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Keyword research and so on) and include quality backlinks, among other features.
5. Develop a Long-Term Content Creation Strategy: Research has found that 93 percent of the most successful businesses are extremely committed to content marketing, 76 percent use it to nurture leads and 73 percent use it to build loyalty with existing customers.
However, the internet is full of content, so to attract potential customers, it’s essential for you to specialize, find your niche and not fall into the trap of creating generic content, or content that’s unrelated or only slightly related to your core competency. Hence, invest time, effort and money (however much you can) to come up with a concrete content creation plan, which goes beyond blogs and other written forms of content. And to organically grow your audience and reputation, consistently create and share useful, high-quality and valuable content.
6. Build Relationships: One of the best ways to build lasting connections is to network. Networking gives you access to potential customers, mentors and investors. It also gives you the opportunity to learn tips and tricks from established business owners.
Another effective way of building mutually-beneficial relationships is by attending industry events. Such events can help you meet potential new business partners and stay updated on the state of your industry. In addition, speaking at an industry event can be a great way to position you and your company as an industry expert/leader.
7. Leverage Social Media: Social media offers an affordable option to grow a small business, as long as it’s used correctly. To achieve success with social media, the first step is to identify the platforms your target customers are likely using and then work toward building your company’s presence on those platforms.
The next step is to understand your brand's purpose on social media, whether it is to display a new offering from your company, to provide quick and effective customer service to existing customers or to simply educate people. And while it's important to promote your products and services, ensure that you don’t bombard your potential customers with too many promotional posts.