Your hard work is paying off: you’ve gotten your new business idea off the ground. You’ve got a new office, new employees, and new customers. As your small business grows, so does your customer base. This is obviously a good thing—arguably, it’s your primary goal when trying to get a new business started—but with a larger base of customers will come some new headaches. Here are two pitfalls to watch out for as you expand from a small business to a not-so-small one.
One advantage you have when your business is small is the level of engagement you can provide to every individual client or customer. Unfortunately, as your customer base grows, it will come to pass that some fall through the cracks. The online review is a common way for a customer to express grievances in this era, and so you should expect that perfect 5-star ranking you’ve been maintaining to fall as you deal with increased volume. There are two approaches to mitigate this: prevent bad reviews and increase the number of good ones. Keep clients moving without sacrificing your attention to their needs. This will help keep everyone who walks through your door or buys from your website coming back instead of blasting you on the Internet. Second, start asking for reviews from clients or customers you know had a good experience. A satisfied customer will often be happy to write a good review for you, but they may need a reminder that the option is available. Combining these strategies will keep your business in the critical four-and-a-half to five-star range.
Reviews are only one way customers will connect with your business via the Internet, of course. Your overall online presence is crucial, even more crucial than a storefront for retail businesses. While your slapped-together website you made in a weekend with what HTML you could remember from that web design course you took five years ago will suffice while you can maintain that mom-and-pop feel, as soon as you start expanding beyond a local community your website needs to be functional, professional, and keyed in with the service you want to provide—that is to say, excellent. Web design services are widespread these days, so it’s a buyer’s market for your website, but take care to vet the service you use. Look at their portfolio and if possible find a designer who’s worked for your industry before.
In a similar vein, if your business has a phone line (and most businesses will eventually need one) you should prepare for increased call volume. In particular, if you receive media coverage or, even better, viral attention, a significant number of new customers will reach out to you first via phone. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have an outside event raise your profile, as you grow your customer base you should absolutely expect your call volume to trend upwards, and to do so considerably faster than your in-person or direct client engagements. This is another area where you may wish to hire more staff, but you’re in the business you chose for a reason, not the business of managing a call center. This is where a virtual answering service can help. For most enterprises, it simply isn’t a good allocation of resources to manage calls in-house. An outside service will charge a minor premium but will save you money and hassle in the long run.
The reality of growing your business is that your engagements will grow faster than your clientele. More curious potential clients will come along, and at some point, they will overwhelm your capability to provide each one with personal, top-tier service. Plan ahead for this eventuality, as it is crucial to convert these prospects into loyal customers. Doing so will be the difference for your business between staying small and growing up.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!