Stephanie Schwartz is the Founder & CEO of Little Bean Group, a fundraising consulting firm in Washington, DC.
As a business owner, there’s so much focus around “the launch.” But once you are up and running, how do you set your business up to thrive? How do you maintain continued momentum and grow your business?
The routines and processes you put into place can set you up for consistent and efficient growth. Over the past four years of running and expanding my business, I’ve learned where to focus my energy to fuel growth. With that in mind, here are four effective ways to build a sustainable business.
1. Remember that you’re not just selling your business.
When launching a business, your first priority is identifying your value proposition and aligning your product and service offerings. But if you stop there, you’ll hit a roadblock as soon as you face competition. Particularly with service-based businesses, clients see their investment as a relationship, not just a business transaction. Many potential clients select you over another similar business because of you, and they want to get to know that person.
Here’s my own example of what this process can look like in action. (And, no, it doesn’t mean getting rid of personal and professional boundaries!) First, I post on LinkedIn every day. At least once a week, I include a more personal reflection on my work, on motherhood or on my life overall. In doing so, I allow my clients to see more of me, but within my parameters.
Second, I list my firm’s values on our website. I discuss how my background and personal experience influence my work. This transparency lets others see the person behind the business. When those values resonate with a client, it leads to a stronger, more meaningful relationship.
For some business owners, this process could mean weaving personal stories into the narrative of your “about” page, introducing employees through short profiles on social media channels, or sharing a compelling and relatable social post that might encourage someone to pause and reflect. The more you infuse you into your business, the more it will continue to stand out.
2. Create a continued-education routine.
When your business takes off, it’s easy to slide into get-it-done mode. There are meetings, emails and deliverables to prioritize. But if you don’t put a routine into place to educate yourself on industry trends and big-picture tide shifts (think AI), then you’re set up to fall behind. The key here is staying disciplined.
What I’ve found to be most effective is spending fifteen minutes every morning reading headlines in industry publications and checking relevant LinkedIn groups. Bookmark articles to add to a once-a-week practice of diving into newsletters and competitor emails. You can even have these automatically funneled into a Gmail folder.
Some people benefit from attending conferences, while others (like me) may find these aren’t the most effective use of their time. What I recommend instead is thinking about what educational content you would take away from an event if you did attend and what people you would want to meet and the connections that would further your business. Then, recreate that process in a way that works for you. That could mean taking advantage of the resources available through a professional membership or setting up one meaningful networking meeting a week. Consider tuning into a webinar or class weekly to dive into a topic you want to learn more about.
3. Engage your clients.
What happens after you partner with a new client? Do you continue to steward as you did during the courtship phase? There is an opportunity to make a great impression right out of the gate and ensure client satisfaction and loyalty.
For example, once you sign on with a new client, you can add clients to your newsletter and send an onboarding message with information about how your company works and how to reach you. This document should be polished, professional and clear. Throughout the relationship, build in check-ins that go beyond daily communication.
During the holidays, consider also sending gifts and handwritten notes to clients to express your appreciation for their partnership, and once or twice a year, send email messages to previous clients to check in. Make notes and recognize their personal or professional achievements. (Google alerts are useful here!) Then, send periodic resources to current and past clients, such as relevant articles and developments in your field to help leaders stay abreast of trends.
4. Identify strengths and outsource wherever possible.
To keep your energy focused on growing your business, don’t get weighed down by tasks outside your skill set. Identify your strengths and where you can have the biggest impact. Then, outsource the items that are a repeated pain point or roadblock.
For me, that means outsourcing our bookkeeping because accounting isn’t my strong suit and hiring a writer for our monthly newsletter since I would inevitably put it off every month. Steps like these help keep your business moving forward, and if something isn’t one of your strengths, it may be worthwhile to outsource those tasks to an expert.
Launching an idea is the exciting part, but it’s the continued momentum and effort that builds a sustainable, profitable business. Knowing where to focus your effort and energy, how to use efficiencies and routines to your advantage, and when to bring in outside help will help enable your business to thrive.
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