Is your business experiencing growing pains? Like many business owners, it’s easy to become stagnant. But you must find solutions to continue to grow and reach the level of success that you’ve envisioned. Don’t get discouraged, here are 4 ways to take your business to the next level.
Certify Your Business
Becoming a certified woman owned business can significantly help your business gain access to various types of contracts.
Why certify as a woman owned business?
- Access to market: this can open doors to your women businesses by gaining certification accreditation as a woman owned business; it also puts you in front of corporate purchasing agents, thus, gaining access to lucrative supplier contract opportunities
- Apart of a large network: as women, we naturally like to network. The certifying agencies provide great opportunities to join a network of successful women entrepreneurs to form alliances, partnerships and lasting friendships.
To increase your competitive advantage, there are organizations that specialize in the certification of women owned businesses.
- National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC): NWBOC’s certification program were created for women-owned and controlled businesses as an alternative to the multiple state and local certifications required by many public and private-sector agencies or prime contractors. The agency has partnered with more than 100 major corporations, agencies, and organizations who accept their certification.
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC): WBENC offers certification for women-owned businesses. They are a third-party certifier for businesses owned and operated by women in the United States. WBENC’s goal is to foster diversity by offering programs and policies designed to expand opportunities and eliminate barriers in the marketplace for women business owners. WBENC’s certification program is administered through fourteen regional affiliates.
Develop a Referral Network
Do you know other businesses which you share mutual customers with? You should be running, not walking to find who they are and how you can team up and benefit from each other. For instance, if you are a business writer, you should form a team with a web designer, PR firm and / or an ad agency, to name a few. If you are a realtor, you should form a team with a mortgage lender, Title Company, home inspector and home builders.
The key to this is to learn as much as you can about each team members business so that you can promote it as you would your own. You and your ‘sales’ team benefits with new leads as there are several of you supporting each other’s business. It makes so much sense to work smarter and not harder!
Get on the Social Media Bandwagon
Social networking is serious business! This is social networking for the 21st century, one in which every business owner should get on board with. As entrepreneurs, it is essential that you continually generate new ideas in order to maximize the profit-making potential of your venture. Social media is a great way to leverage your products or services. It is an easy and inexpensive way to connect to people around the world and an opportunity to make friends with people who have similar interests, find solutions to problems they might have by collaborating with others, as well as attract clients that might need your products or services.
More and more local small businesses and non-profit organizations are climbing aboard the social media bandwagon to market themselves for free. It just makes good business sense to learn how to leverage social media to build communities around brands and then leverage them into revenue.
According to a recent survey on online social networking by the Institute for Corporate Productivity:
- 65% of business professionals use some form of personal or professional social network
- 47% use social networks to connect with potential clients and market their skills
- 55% use social networks to share best practices with colleagues
Yes to Name Dropping
Why not ask your existing clients for referrals? All you need to do is ‘ask’ them for up to three friends or colleague’s names that may benefit from your services. Once the names and contact information is given, make sure you ask for permission to use your client’s names when contacting these referrals. When contacting referrals, let each know that your client suggested you call them. This is a great way to bridge the awkwardness to get one foot in the door with ease.
Example: ‘Hello, Ms. Jones. My name is Sylvia Browder from Browder Consulting Group. Your friend Ms. Greenberry suggested I call you. She thought you might be interested in growing your small business and I’d like to discuss your needs and give you suggestions for growth. I’d like to make an appointment with you – at your convenience, of course. What day works best for you this week?”
Remember that people do business with people they know and trust. So, if your client is happy with your products/services, then chances are those referrals will turn into clients.
In conclusion, as business owners, it is essential that you continually generate new ideas in order to maximize the profit-making potential of your venture. By doing this, growth is continuous, thus, you’ll avoid stagnation.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Sylvia Browder is CEO of Browder Consulting Group, a virtual small business consulting firm. In her role, she helps Women in Business grow and succeed. She is employed as Project Director and business consultant for the Women’s Business Center Inc, a non-profit economic development organization with a mission of empowering women to start and grow successful businesses. She has served as an online volunteer SCORE counselor since 2004. She also serves as a Technical Assistant Provider for SBA’s Community Express Loan Program. For FREE weekly articles go to Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women Entrepreneurs, www.sylviabrowder.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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