Starting up a business can feel like a long and fruitless slog – until you reach your turning point and you can do no wrong. A breakthrough moment is often a case of luck, but small businesses can encourage the success and growth they desire by networking, upping social media activity and finding a great mentor.
How can marketing help?
After spending money on initial set-up costs such as workspace and website design, marketing can sometimes feel like an afterthought and less important. Managing Director of Platform Black, Caroline Langron, says, “I would clearly identify what you are trying to achieve from marketing ahead of meeting with agencies. Ask your peers how they market and who your direct competitors are.”
The Partnership Lead at the Start-up Loans scheme, Alex Mitchell, recommends creating a ‘Love Mark’ – a business that creates passion for the customer. Mitchell says, “Social media is a great way to engage but it is only part of the solution. If you are B2C I would suggest creating a small group of local customers who are brand advocates and could help raise awareness.”
Another strategy for promoting your business is by tapping into Facebook’s targeting capabilities. Chris Barling, founder of mobile invoicing app Powered Now, says “If you already have a reasonable number of customers, I would look into Facebook lookalike advertising. This enables ads to be placed in front of people who are similar to your current customers.”
How to go about finding a mentor
Mentors can help you to grow your business, and hopefully they will have experienced similar bumps in the road. Finding a mentor who can help can often be quite challenging. Alex Mitchell, who runs his own social enterprise called Causarma, says he has been quite targeted in the mentors he’s chosen.
“I’ve been open in going to somebody I feel I could learn a lot from, and then asking them directly. The worst they can do is say no! I have done this by attending relevant events, researched on LinkedIn. Targeting someone who has been through a similar journey to you – but it doesn’t have to be in the same sector – is key.”
Dannie-Lu Carr is an actor and founder of The Five Gateways, a coaching company that helps women step up for their own business breakthrough moment. She thinks that rather than seeking a mentor, businesses should focus on doing an excellent job, and then ideally, a mentor will notice them. “Self-belief that you are more than capable of getting to a good standard without a mentor is important.”
Take a step back
Sometimes taking your foot off the accelerator can speed up the growth of your business. Barling says that if you are ambitious, then you can never really step back. However, he suggests pausing to review is vital: “There is absolutely a need for a periodic review of what you’re doing, and sometimes when you’re growing fast there’s a time to take your foot off the accelerator and let cash flow, process or recruitment catch up.” Turner agrees: “I think it’s healthy to come up for a breath every so often and pause to reflect and reassess what you’re doing and why.”
So take a step back. Do you need to increase your networking or focus on social media? How can you create the perfect conditions for your business to grow?