Veteran-owned businesses are an integral part of the US economy, making about 9% of the total businesses. The reason you haven’t been able to grow your veteran owned business could be several. You may not have the budget for marketing or to upgrade your tech. However, lack of finance should never be a hindrance for you to grow your business. You can easily secure a small business loan from Reliant Funding.
Walmart and FedEx are two of the most recognized and successful businesses of our time. Both of them have one thing in common – they were once small businesses that were either started or co-founded by veterans. If they were able to overcome the challenges faced by veteran-owned businesses and grow their businesses to become what they are now, other veteran-owned businesses could do it too; if they do a few things right. These are some proven methods by which veterans can maximize their businesses to get new customers and markets.
First things first- Branding!
You may be offering the most innovative product/service; but what’s the point if it doesn’t stand out from the competition. Blue Ribbon Sports may not have made Phil Knight a billionaire if he had not re-branded it to Nike. This is why branding is vital for any business. Branding is more than your logo and brand name. These are just starting points to show your customers who you are and what you stand for. Aspects including brand culture, brand personality and brand essence are the most important.
Get the Word Out
Lack of brand awareness can cause huge marketing failures. It’s not a secret that at the present age of the internet, businesses have to be online and socialize with their target audience to stay relevant. Maximizing your small business’ online presence can open up growth opportunities. Start by finding out where your customers are the most active. You don’t have to be active on every single platform. If they’re the most active on Instagram, create captivating Instagram stories. Other ways to build brand awareness are (i) creating a website and driving traffic using blogs and other forms of content marketing (ii) getting listed on review sites like Yelp, Angle’s List etc. Good websites don’t come cheap – the average cost of building a small business website could be less than $1,000 or upwards of $10,000. Veterans can easily finance this critical requirement using a small business loan.
Grow your Network
In the business world, finding the right kind of opportunities is closely tied to knowing the right people to reach out to. Partnering with or engaging in mutually beneficial alliances with other businesses is one of the quickest ways to grow your veteran-owned small business by entering markets you initially thought were difficult. So, attend business / entrepreneurial events where you can make quality business relationships. Be authentic and personable at events and if possible, reach out to who you want to connect with, in advance.
Win Government Contracts
Some veteran small businesses may have products and services that can be contracted easier to the government. The fact is that most veteran business owners don’t know this option exists. Winning a government contract can completely change the game for small businesses. With a yearly purchasing budget of over $200 billion, the government is the largest purchaser of goods and services; so there is excellent potential for veteran small businesses to grow. The US government supports this too. The SBA has actually made it possible for veteran owned small businesses to get preference while bidding for government contracts.
Upgrade your Tech
When it comes to tech, you need to stay current. Start by analyzing your businesses and employees’ productivity. Is your business using cloud-based services like Google Drive and Amazon Web Services to collaborate and store digital files? Do you have enough hard drives to back up data and protect yourself in case of a cyber-attack? Old technology is like shackles that keep employees from being as efficient as they can be; impacting customer experience as well. Equip your business with tech including mobile payments and self-checkout counters to make things as convenient as possible for your customers.
Track your Success
Knowing what tasks to prioritize and continuously analyzing and improving performance is key to growing a small business. The first thing is to have benchmarks against which you can measure performance. Create specific goals and keep track of what strategies to achieve them are working. The goals must be measurable. Rather than saying you want higher profits, say you want to achieve $1 million in profits by the end of this year; now you have a target to chase. Once you achieve your goals, make more ambitious ones. If you are falling short of reaching these goals, find out what went wrong and learn from your mistakes. Constantly improving and adapting to changes in the business environment can only propel your veteran-owned business to greater heights.
Building and maintaining relationships with an offline community is just as important as maintaining an online community. An old-school but effective way to get people to trust your veteran business is to give back to the community once in a while. Find events and fundraisers in and around your locality that you can be involved in or do something of your own. For example, sponsor the local school sports team or participate in a food drive. Building trust with people this way can go a long way to increase your client base.