OnDeck Australia’s CEO Cameron Poolman shares some strategies for sustainable business growth.
There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for small business success. However, research by the Australian Centre for Business Growth at the University of South Australia found there are some common threads for business failure.
Based on the responses of 650 CEOs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the study identified several key reasons why businesses don’t succeed. Top of the list (25% of CEOs) was lack of leadership and poor management. One in five (17%) lacked marketing skills. More than one in ten (11%) cited poor governance structures.
With this in mind, I’ve invited three of my OnDeck colleagues to share their tips for sustainable business growth.
Marketing tips – Oliver Wade, Head of Marketing
“Set yourself some realistic goals around acquiring new customers, growing website traffic, and building revenue from marketing efforts,” advises Ollie.
Social media can be a powerful marketing force, and if your business is not using social media, Ollie says now is a great time to start: “Think about where your customers are most likely to be – Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn, then focus on that social media platform.
“Start by interacting with your audience, and build up a following today so that you’re ready for future peak periods. “If you’re already active on social media, take the time to browse your competitor’s profiles to see how you compare,” Ollies suggests.
“Run a quick website audit,” adds Ollie. “Look at whether your sales copy is tailored to your target market. Is your Google Analytics tracking properly set up? Are your contact forms working? All these details can make a huge difference.”
Sales tips – Michael Burke, Head of sales
Larger companies can fall short when it comes to delivering great service, and Michael says this gives SME owners an opportunity that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“Wherever possible, aim to go above and beyond to provide great service. It will help to build loyal customers and referral business,” says Michael.
“Work every opportunity that comes into your sales pipeline,” he adds. “Be persistent and don’t give up easily on new business opportunities.”
When a new customer comes on board, don’t take your foot off the pedal. “Focus on surprising and delighting your new customers – it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one,” Michael advises.
Tap into the wealth of tools available to support sales growth. Michael explains, “There are some very affordable tools for small business owners such as CRMs to manage your leads and customer data, and software to help run loyalty programs.”
HR tips – Lucinda Pendergast, People and Culture Manager
Taking the time to hire the right people is a key building block of success for any business big or small. “Think about the culture of your workplace and the values you want to embody,” explains Lucinda. “When hiring, consider how candidates will gel with your culture, and ask questions aimed at seeing if their values align with yours.”
Time spent on staff training can deliver tenfold rewards. “We’ve all been in situations where we haven’t received great service because the person we dealt with hasn’t been adequately trained,” says Lucinda. “Take pride in your employees and continue to provide training so that they can always be knowledgeable, helpful and deliver great service.”
Productive workplaces are healthy and happy, and Lucinda urges the need to consider how you can promote employee wellbeing. “It could be as simple as providing free fruit, or maybe you could organise regular team events to promote unity and forge strong bonds,” she says.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. You’ll soon discover the strategies that are working for your business, letting you focus on the activities that achieve the best results.