Growing a business has always been a challenge. Today, there seem to be more obstacles than ever before - and it could be a while before things get easier.  
We don’t want to say too much about Brexit, as we’re sure you’ve heard it all already, but it’s impossible to ignore the extra pressure all this political and economic uncertainty is putting on businesses large and small.  
Meanwhile, business owners continue to face the usual challenges: the need for investment in equipment and technology, the struggle to recruit and retain good people, and the ever-present worry that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. 
At it’seeze, we understand the challenges you face. We also understand what motivates you: starting and growing a business is exhilarating stuff - and for the brave people who decide to take the plunge, the rewards of ‘being your own boss’ can make all the hard work worthwhile.  
The fact that there are 5.9million SME businesses in the UK suggests that many, many people agree. But choosing to be independent doesn’t have to mean you’re on your own.  
Optimism and resilience are crucial character traits in a business owner and they come a little easier when you have a trusted support network - and some expert advice to lean on every now and then. 
Helping businesses to grow is our business. It’s what we’ve been doing since 2008, when we started our own growth story.  
We’ve learned a lot along the way about what it is that makes taking your business to the next stage less stressful and more enjoyable - and we’d like to share some of the lessons we’ve learned with you. 

Here are our top tips as you start to grow:  

1. Plan for the long term 

What would you like your business to look like in five years? With so much to do, it can be easy to get bogged down in the day to day running of your business - but a long-term vision is crucial.  
Knowing where you’d like to be in five years helps you keep everything on track; each decision you face becomes easier when choices can be evaluated against long-term goals. 
Begin by setting realistic milestones to work towards and then break down the steps you think you will need to take to get you there. As a part of this process, try to define your ‘brand purpose’.  
Many smaller businesses set out without thinking about their overall purpose, but having one can help you to shape and strengthen your core business and the way you attract customers.  
A clear understanding of your plans will also help you to choose services and people who fit with your vision as you grow - and planning ahead of course includes creating an adaptable online presence.  
Your website is often the first contact a customer will have with your business. It should be eye-catching and optimised for search engines from the beginning, but also provide you with the ability to add features and functions or update details quickly and easily

2. Stand out from the crowd 

Think about what makes you unique. With so much competition out there, sometimes the small details can make all the difference.  
Whether it’s a particular specialism, an added-value service or an unusual quirk, make sure your ‘unique selling point’ is communicated consistently through all of your customer facing materials. 
As well as explicitly telling people what makes you different, your qualities and characteristics can be portrayed through your brand’s ‘personality’ and the imagery or language you use on leaflets, emails, and your website.  
If you’re outsourcing your design and website build, it will be important to work with people who take the time to really get to know your business and can help you create designs that draw out any unique qualities and reflect what your business is all about. 

3. Get the right support 

People who lead SME businesses are often expected to be experts in all things. The truth is, few people actually are. The stress and strain of growing a business can be dramatically reduced by finding the right support.  
What ‘the right support’ actually means will vary from one business to another: it could be a network of peers or a partner with technical ability, a financial administrator or a virtual P.A. 
For many business owners with no in-house tech team, website support can be invaluable - especially when something goes wrong.  
When you’re choosing someone to work with, try to find partners who provide more than just a fast, templated website build or one-off service, as having a friendly voice on the other end of the phone or someone local to you can be invaluable when you’re time-poor or lacking in digital know-how. 

4. Take the easy option sometimes 

It can be hard to ask for help when you’ve chosen to go it alone - but outsourcing to affordable experts certainly isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, it could be an opportunity to support another local business just like your own.  
Taking the easy option every now and again could also give you back precious time to invest in growing your business, or could simply free up some brain-space for your next entrepreneurial ‘eureka’ moment. 
When outsourcing, always choose partners you can trust. Looking at reviews and testimonials can be a great place to start - and ideally choose to work with businesses who have a local representative you can chat to in person. However digital our society becomes, there really is no substitute for a human conversation. 
If your business needs help or advice with anything website-related, please get in touch. We can put you in touch with your local consultant to get things started - and we’ll always be at the end of the phone when you need us. 
Tagged as: online business
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