Growth is a key goal for any small business, but it’s important to pursue it through tactics that fit your long-term plan. Too much growth too soon often leads to a drop in quality, which makes that growth unsustainable.
There are many challenges that come with growth (hence the term “growing pains”), but having a clear plan will help you navigate them successfully. First and foremost, always be thinking about change from your customer’s perspective. Losing sight of that is the best way to end up with unhappy customers and lost opportunities, so make sure to model all new processes through the lens of the customer experience.
Engineering the Customer Experience
Whether it’s adding additional services to an existing business, adding more space or moving to a different location, trying something new can result in unforeseen problems. These could include bottlenecks in customer flow, disconnects in billing or other issues directly related to the customer experience.
One small business owner who faced such a set of challenges is Jim Kolb, a fourth-generation florist and owner of House of Flowers in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He had been thinking about growth for years and his latest project, Couture Events, is a great example of considering the customer experience before going public.
Couture Events is essentially a party planner for major events, with significant additional services like decorating, equipment rentals and of course, floral arrangements. In the video below, you’ll see how a feeling of stagnation at House of Flowers, which was performing well but not growing at its usual rate, gave Jim the motivation to branch out with his new idea.
- If you have a blueprint for success from your existing business, keep using it. Solicit feedback from customers and test your plan rigorously before making the leap.
- Know your audience! Couture Events customers enjoy the process of planning their own parties. By offering equipment rentals, Kolb positioned the new venture to reach customers who would prefer to plan their own events.
- Keep your passion and personal touch evident as you grow, and do whatever you have to do to make every customer experience memorable.
- Retailers, don’t underestimate the pleasure your customers get from discovering something unique. Make good use of inventory space and create a fun browsing experience.
The path to growth will often include some painful moments, and strong relationships are vital to navigating those challenges. No matter what type of small business you have and how you plan to grow it, building solid relationships with customers, employees, vendors and partners are pivotal to your success. It’s much easier to keep the customer experience strong during periods of transition and growth when everyone is communicating and on the same page.
Whether you’re starting a business from scratch or branching out from an existing one, having a creative, comprehensive growth plan, strong relationships with the people around you and a willingness to listen to feedback from customers will help you grow your business to where you want it to be.
This post was written in partnership with Progressive Insurance. I have been compensated, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. For additional small business tips, check out Progressive’s Small business Big Dreams program.