Growing a business as a sole trader is endlessly rewarding, but it can sometimes be hard to know where to turn for advice. Whether it’s a new venture or an established business, understanding how to hit those 2022 growth goals without a traditional support structure can be intimidating.
“There’s excitement but it can equally be drowned with heaviness because you’re like ‘oh my goodness, I’ve got no one to bounce ideas off of, I don’t know what I’m doing, I can only Google so much,” says small business coach Angela Henderson.
Henderson’s role for small businesses and sole traders is to share the experience she’s gathered over more than a decade as a business owner and mental health clinician. Whether your solo business has been around for six months or ten years, Henderson has three key levers to achieve those growth aspirations in 2022.
Increasing visibility with partnership promotions
Getting noticed is a key step to generating new business and achieving growth, but there’s not just one method of promotion. Depending on your business model, timeline and other variables, Henderson notes different avenues to visibility — organic, partnership and paid promotions. Organic often requires a long-term commitment to producing original content (such as social, video or blogs), while paid promotions are simply paying for advertising, whether it’s new or traditional media.
What will the election mean to you?
Sign up to our free newsletter, including this weekend’s coverage of the election.
Partnerships are a reciprocal arrangement between two businesses and can represent a sweet spot between the time and effort of organic promotion, and the financial cost of paid. Finding and partnering with like-minded sole traders is a great step to increasing your visibility.
“Partnerships could be working in conjunction and doing an online summit together,” says Henderson. “Another could be you taking over each other’s Instagram accounts for the day.” Takeovers work particularly well with real-time content – such as Instagram’s Live or Stories features – and are often easy ways to bring credibility to a brand. Product unboxing, recipe sharing and live event videos are common examples which bring two audiences together for mutual benefit.
“Another partnership could be an affiliate partnership — I’m in the middle of launching a program, would you partner with me as an affiliate?” I’ll give you a 50 per cent kickback for XYZ if you share this with your email list and audience. You come on my podcast, I’ll go on your podcast.
You’re really just leveraging each other’s audiences to grow your business without having to pay for it.”
Make your website work for you
Social media can help businesses reach customers directly, but it’s not without its risks. “A lot of business owners build their real estate on other people’s land,” says Henderson. “They’re building on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and then it gets taken down, and they’ve lost everything.”
Henderson doesn’t suggest abandoning social media, but rather creating what she calls a ‘conversional website’ — a website that draws in and effectively converts visitors into new business.
For a start, make sure your website has:
- a clear call to action,
- effective above-the-fold copy (copy appearing at the top of a web page),
- and a way to get visitors onto your email database.
A great way to ensure web copy is effective is search engine optimisation (SEO), a technique which uses copywriting, links and other elements to boost website traffic from search engines. “Find out what your long tail and short tail keywords are,” Henderson says. “When people go to Google and type in ‘business coach Brisbane’, they’re going to find me, Angela Henderson in page one, spot one. You want your website working for you, not against you.”
Doing this yourself is possible, depending on individual skill, but for Henderson, it’s well worth investing in the skills of a professional. “If you want to boost your revenue in 2022 and put your dollars where you’re going to see a return on investment, you’re going to need to consider getting a ‘conversional website’ done by people who understand conversion, not design.”
Consider SEO and specialist web conversion agencies to help improve your web traffic. Agencies charge a premium, but their expertise can pay quick dividends.
Review products and prices
Growth doesn’t have to come exclusively from acquiring new customers. Henderson recommends reviewing your business’s products and services, and understanding opportunities to grow the revenue generated by existing customers and clients.
Start with a visual tool called a value ladder which plots business offerings on a graph of value against price. By looking at the progression of the products and services your business offers, from low value to high value, you can identify opportunities to offer more to existing customers, or to charge more for premium services.
“Just from that simple exercise a lot of times what happens is people are like ‘I actually need a price increase,’” says Henderson. “They could do nothing else for that entire year, increase their prices by $50, $100, $2000, and they’ve naturally boosted their revenue.”
Whether it’s a value ladder or just a simple product review, the essential takeaway is this: revisit what you’re offering and use the power of business you’ve already won. “People forget that once you acquire a new lead, it’s much cheaper to continue to sell to them within your ecosystem than to keep trying to get new leads because it’s going to cost you more,” says Henderson.
“So then by sitting down and looking at your value ladder, your products and your pricing, you potentially can find new ways to upsell people into something else, downsell people into something else, and do nothing more than increasing prices.”
Looking for new ways to take your business to the next level? Xero’s Small Business Guides are valuable resources filled with tips and advice on how to take your small business to the next level.
NOW READ: Five reasons to love eInvoicing
Xero is a cloud-based accounting software platform for small businesses with over 3 million subscribers globally. Through Xero, small business owners and their advisors have access to real-time financial data any time, anywhere and on any device. Xero offers an ecosystem of over 1,000 third-party apps and 300 plus connections to banks and other financial partners.