Congratulations on getting your business up and running. For most people, the dream of owning their own business forever remains just that — a dream. And while you’ve made some money, built a small but growing customer base, and begun to experiment with new offerings, your goals are bigger. You want to increase your margins. You want your brand to be top of mind. And you want to expand your market share until your business is the leader in your industry.
It’s a tall order, but you can do it. You’ll face some challenges like raising money to expand, unpredictable cash flow and dealing with competition. But you can deal with these challenges by facing them head-on and following these strategies:
If you’ve already asked your friends and family to invest, and you’re still too small for the likes of Shark Tank, consider a venture capital (VC) or micro-VC fund, like New Media Ventures. These entities specialize in making investments in small businesses with significant potential. You can also raise money with a crowdfunding campaign. Try using Kickstarter, The 10k Project, or FundBlackFounders to help you raise money as well as your brand’s profile.
Unpredictable cash flow
Fluctuating revenue forces you to continually catch up and prevents you from taking the necessary steps to expand. Mitigate this by establishing a budget and firmly sticking to it. Put aside a small amount each month in an emergency business savings account. Eliminate or renegotiate any contracts with variable rate pricing. And put large purchases requiring installment payments on hold until your cash flow is more predictable.
Dealing with competition
Other firms will devote time, talent, and resources to attract your customers; this can pose a real threat to your business. Get the edge on your competitors by learning who they are, keeping an eye on emerging competitive threats, and communicating clearly to customers what sets you apart. Also, understand that you can’t control what your competitors do. What you can control is how resolutely you stick to your vision and work your plan. Don’t feel compelled to respond to your competitors’ every move, but if you feel you must engage, in say, a new promotion to address a loss of market share to a competitor, design one that is true to your brand and your long-term vision.
You’ll encounter these obstacles and more over time. But your persistent commitment to your vision and your hard work will help you overcome them and ensure that you and your business prosper.