5 Ways To Grow Your Business Organically

5 ways to grow your business Organically

5 Ways To Grow Your Business Organically

As an entrepreneur, starting up your new business it can be incredibly exciting. But getting it off the ground can also be equally as difficult. When profits start to appear and you get used to the demands of your business, expansion could be the last thing on your mind. But while it’s important to enjoy your new found success, you may also want to look at growing your business.
When it comes to business growth, it’s important not to do too much too soon. Instead, focusing on growing your business organically will help ensure steady growth and profit, instead of making a huge and uncertain leap into paid growth and falling short. But how can you successfully grow your business organically?

Invest Some Time In Your Online Presence

In the words of Bill Gates, ‘there will be only two kinds of businesses, those with an internet presence, and those with no business at all.’ We are living on the internet of things, so it’s important to make sure you’re online. People turn to the internet for all kinds of information, and you want to be there to provide it.  Even if you’re running a one-man business, it’s worth investing some time in your online presence. Get yourself a website and make sure it is optimised properly so that people can find you online easily. Use social media to regularly interact with customers, prospects and other businesses.

Network Like Your Life Depends On It

One of the things that helps many businesses stride from start-up into small and even medium sized businesses is networking. Getting your face out there, meeting local business owners and building relationships is crucial for any successful growing business. There are a lot of different options for networking out there, and the best way to find one that’s right for you is to try some out! For example, if you want a very laid back and casual approach to nurture ongoing relationships gently, you could try Business Biscotti. If you’re looking for something structured, aimed at accelerating growth quickly with structure, and are prepared to commit to an early morning weekly meeting there’s BNI. Or if you’re looking for a supportive group of women who can help you and your business grow at a pace that suits you, there are groups like 10-12 Business Club. The trick to getting networking to effectively grow your business is finding a group you like, that works for you and your business type. So try out every group you can find, then dedicate yourselves to the ones that work.

Keep An Eye On Your Cash Flow

The saying ‘you have to spend money to make money’ might hold some weight, but small businesses still need to keep a close watch on their spending. Businesses will typically calculate their cash flow based on what’s left over after all of their essential expenses are paid and non-cash items are adjusted on the net income. When you start to think about business decisions from a free cash flow perspective, new growth opportunities become more apparent. But if you start to lose sight of your cash flow, you may find yourself making big capital investments with large depreciation costs that provide little long-term value, and you can get into trouble.

Build Key Relationships

Relationships are one of the most important things to any growing business, and spending some time building and nurturing them can be worth its weight in gold. Whether it’s with your suppliers or with new customers, those relationships are critical. You should also look at making connections with other businesses in the area that could grow into partnerships. So, for example, if you provide a marketing service, you might want to build some key relationships with specialist service providers, such as social media gurus, bloggers or SEO specialists. Make sure you are spending time helping the relationships you do have, and the return will be huge.

At 10-12, we are all about helping business owners connect and build their businesses together. All of our members are dedicated to not only making connections but building giving as much help and support as they can to other business owners on the road to growth. If you are interested in trying out a new networking group and joining a network of supportive, successful business owners focussed on growth, just get in touch with us today, or arrange to visit one of our groups.


Our Top Networking Tips

Our Top Networking Tips

Networking can be tough, especially if you’re the new one in the group. When you first step into a room full of complete strangers, all chatting and laughing like they are old friends (which some of them are), it can feel hugely intimidating. But networking is an essential part of small and medium business life and it can do so much good for your business, your growth and you as a business owner (it can be awfully lonely otherwise). But how do you make the most of your networking time? We have a few tips for you.

Show Interest In Others 

This should be your first and golden rule, but so many people break it. There are always the boring people who talk about themselves non-stop, or their own challenges and worries. Those types of people get nowhere in networking. Yes, if someone asks you about something you should respond, but the real value comes in showing an interest in others, rather than talking about yourself and your business for the whole event. It makes people feel valued like you are listening and endears them more to you as a person.

Be Specific

If you are in an event where you can stand up and offer a 40, 50 or 60-second pitch to the room, make sure you are specific. So if you’re looking to speak to a certain company, try and find out who it is you would be dealing with and mention them by name. You should also be specific about your reasons for wanting to speak with them, and what value you would offer. This helps everyone else in the room be on the lookout for the right person and introduce you in the right way – which is more likely to result in being referred. 

Be A Giver And Help People (If You Can) 

If someone drops their business cards or a stack of paperwork, be the first to offer them help. If a newcomer is looking lost, make sure you approach them, welcome them and make them feel comfortable within the room. Be a giver within and outside the room, as that generosity will often come back to you 10-fold. Showing basic courtesy and offering help, support and guidance is likely to help cement your relationships with the people in the room, which is ultimately what leads to more business. 

Dress Well

We don’t mean you have to dress up in your Sunday best or in black tie, but just take a second to choose your outfit for networking and show that you care about what you look like. Ask yourself ‘would I like to meet me looking like that?’ It’s not just about clothes either – make sure your personal grooming is up to scratch and your body odours are under control. Reflect the personality of your business in the way you dress, creative people can get away with more informal dress code than that of a solicitor.

 Don’t Just Hand Out Cards

There is nothing worse than watching someone rush around the room, pressing their business cards into everyone’s hand and then walking right out the door again. You should only hand out your card to someone who you have had a meaningful conversation with, preferably after they have asked you for it. Simply throwing your cards at people sends out a really bad message about you, it shows you are more interested in quantity than quality.  Cards given to people you have an in-depth conversation are more likely to be used than those sprayed around a room.

Be A Good Conversation Starter

Conversations are hard to start, so make sure you have some basic ideas in your back pocket if you start to struggle. Keep up with recent news and try to find something better than ‘nice weather’ as your go to. One of our favourites is to always aim to have an interesting fact available. That way you can start a conversation with ‘I didn’t realise this, but did you know…’ This not only gives you a conversation starter but leaves the person glad to have met you. If you are really stuck then read our 4 Ways to break the ice at Networking events for some inspiration.

Listen More Than You Talk

Have you noticed that listen is an anagram of silent? When you’re talking to another person or group of people at a networking event, make sure you are listening to what they have to say. We’ve seen so many networkers who are only ever looking over the shoulder of who they are talking to rather than actually paying attention. It’s horrible to see and even worse to experience. Make sure you give the person you are talking to your full attention, button your lip and be a good listener – you will get much more respect for it!

Make a Commitment and stick to it

Structured networking events normally come with a membership of a year or less and require a commitment to attend on a weekly or monthly basis.  If you join one of these groups, make sure you clear your diary for those monthly or weekly meetings and stick to them. Your investment will be totally wasted if you just turn up occasionally, lack of attendance can show that you are not committed to growing your business, even if its because you are so busy. Groups often allow you to send a hot seat so if this is the case, get a list of “hot-seat” fellow business owners, plan your diary in advance and make sure you always show up or send a replacement.

Want to try out some of these tips for yourself? Come and join us at one of our monthly networking events, meet our members and promote your business. For more information, get in touch or book here.


Angry client

A Guide To Dealing With Difficult Clients – That won’t Pay!

No matter what you do for a living, there is always one thing you can count on. Difficult clients plague everyone from time to time, and they never get any easier to deal with.  With that in mind we hope our guide To Dealing With Difficult Clients – That won’t Pay, helps you make some changes in your business process. Do any of these issues with clients and invoicing sound familiar to you?:

  • Asking for much more than originally agreed but  insisting the price stays the same.
  • Discounting because they don’t agree with what they have received.
  • Constantly refusing to pay your invoices on time. Or at all!
  • Saying the invoice never arrived, they haven’t seen it!
  • Promising payment that never arrives.

It can be difficult to stay in control of the situation and ensure you don’t end up out of pocket. At a recent 10-12 Business Club meeting this was our the topic of our brainstorming session. We came up with a few ways to keep your cool and deal with difficult clients.

Get Payment Up Front

A lot of the difficulties, we discussed as business owners tended to revolve around customers not paying their bills on time, if at all. Cash flow is a really important thing to all business owners, but even more so to smaller companies or sole traders. Getting invoices paid on time is crucial to your success as a small business!

Peggy_Marco / Pixabay

If you have dealt with a client previously who has missed payment dates, the easiest way to avoid the same issue happening again is to get full payment up front. If your client makes an issue of it, simply explain that due to the issues you experienced last time you worked together, up-front payment is required to ensure payment is received, and no work will be done until this is paid.

You can of course do this with new customers who you believe will be an issue, or instigate it as a general policy if this happens a lot. If you’re not comfortable with asking for so much up front, you could split the difference. Many companies operate on a payment basis of 50% with a confirmed order and balance due on completion or delivery, which helps you and the client with cash flow.

Make sure you have sent your invoice on time and that the client has received it. This can be the biggest delay for any small business in receiving payment for work agreed.

Start Using Service Agreements

‘Scope creep’ can happen during any project, but it tends to happen most in the creative industries, or any area where something is being built.

service-contractThe client will give you an initial brief, but as you go along they start adding things until the workload is actually twice the amount you quoted for. The client of course then expects all of this extra work to be done at the quoted cost, because it’s ‘all in the same project’.

To avoid this, service agreements will become your best friend. When you get the brief for the project, put it into a basic contract and have your client sign it before work commences. You can also include a pricing structure for extra work on top of the agreed brief, based on timescale, volume, whatever you want really. Always include your payment terms and what will happen if they fail to meet them. Summarise the potential costs of non-payment and state that you will take legal action.

You can use the same basic document for every client and simply substitute the brief in each time. By doing this you have it in writing (and signed) exactly what the quote you gave covers, so any extra work can be charged accordingly. Scope creep has become significantly less of a problem for us since we started doing this!

 Develop A Thick Skin

Sometimes no matter what happens, clients can get angry. They might be frustrated that something can’t be done in the time frame, that you won’t do extra work or that you’ve said no to their unreasonable request. Whatever the reason, angry clients can get pretty nasty sometimes.

To be successful in business you need to develop a pretty thick skin to deal with unsatisfied or annoyed people, no matter what they throw at you. Try to remember not to take anything they say personally, and let it roll off you like water off a duck’s back. If you struggle with this, a support network like one of our networking group of ladies is the perfect way to get things off your chest and let people help you, reassure you and get you back on your feet.

Don’t Be Afraid To Say No!

One thing we are all terrible at is saying no to work. When you’re first starting out you never say no to anything, taking on any work you can just to get by. As you grow and establish yourself as a business you can afford to be more selective about the clients you take on (though many of us aren’t).

noThis is an important step, as many of us get an idea of the ‘red flags’ for a difficult client. If you think a prospect will become a difficult client, don’t be afraid to say no! It’s better to spend time searching for a client who will be good to work with and worth what you charge than to accept a client who will be much more work for you. Sometimes, no price is high enough and you just need to walk away. And that’s OK!

Of course there’s lots of advice out there about dealing with difficult clients, search out some excellent blogs online. If you like what you have read then we have plenty more business topics to choose from.

This is the sort of issue we discuss in our meetings, allowing members to air their concerns and business problems and get advice on how to deal with them in a supportive and confidential setting. If you’re interested in visiting one of our groups, click here to book your place. We can’t wait to see you!


networking meetings berkshire

Business Networking

How to Join 10-12 Business Club

Business networking is an expanding market for new start up businesses and local entrepreneurs. To the corporate employee they may wonder why business people would commit to such an activity but there are more benefits to the business owner than downsides.
Here are just a few reasons to consider networking;

  • It is a great way to find new clients.
  • Build relationships with like-minded individuals.
  • Learn from the success stories of others.
  • Spread the word about your own business.
  • Opportunities of joint ventures, speaking and writing etc.
  • Generate leads, referrals for your business and increased sales.
  • Find local suppliers for services or products you offer.
  • Share business problems to find solutions.
  • Feel part of a team
  • Raise your profile

Founders of 10-12 Business Club To help business owners experience networking, these events are held at various times of the day and in various formats. From early morning breakfasts to late evening drinks, structured boardroom style meetings to open networking over a coffee, the choice is endless.If you are considering networking for your business search out some of the local organisations offering this service and try one of each. Some events are free of charge and can be very busy but often the smaller paid membership groups are the ones you gain the most benefit from and build better relationships and ultimately receive referrals for business.

The 10-12 Business Club offers networking for Men and women in the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire area.