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Small Business Growth Strategies — A 9-Step Framework That Works

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Ash Roy
Small business owners talking

There are several business growth strategies out there such as market penetration, market development, etc. Some of those strategies assume you already have a product and some market share.

But what if you’re a small business owner who’s just starting out? What if you don’t know how to craft a compelling offer around a product? What if you’re not sure who your ideal customer is? What if you don’t know what your mission is?


We’ve got you covered.


This 9-step framework helps you get clear on your mission, understand your ideal customer, discover a problem they’re happy to pay you to solve (via your offer), and then take that product to market.


And if you’ve already got an offer in the market and you’re looking to scale it, this framework even helps you get clear on the most important metrics you need to pay attention to.


I've created a 9-step email course which, walks you through my 9-step business growth framework. You can download that 9-step business growth framework as an interactive pdf document here


Once you've downloaded the PDF document, just click on each of the steps (where it says "click me") and it'll take you to a podcast episode where I explore each of those topics with some of the brightest marketing minds in the world including Seth Godin, Neil Patel, Guy Kawasaki and lots more.


You'll need to subscribe to get that interactive PDF though. Subscribing also means you'll get an email delivered to your inbox each day explaining each of those 9-steps in detail.


If you'd rather not subscribe (cause you don't know me well enough yet) and you'd prefer to just follow along on this blog, you can do that too.


Each of the 9-steps is explained (in brief) in the 9 sections below.


If you click on any of the blue hyperlinked text in the subheads (see the example image below) you'll be able to access those same emails that I'd normally send you via the free email course.





I've saved each of the emails as hidden pages on my blog. You could go through that entire 9-step email course without having to subscribe.


This framework will help you to build an unassailable position of authority in your market and help you generate inbound leads if you implement it effectively.


So, let’s get started, shall we?


1.  Articulate your mission

OK, so the first step is to get clear on your mission. What change do you seek to deliver? To whom? How will your product or service transform your ideal customer? Who is your ideal customer?


All these are important questions that need to be answered. We’ll unpack these later.


But writing down your mission statement is important because it helps you articulate (to yourself) your business’ purpose. It helps you set a clear direction. A clear intention around which you and your team (as you grow) will align with.


Will your mission statement change?


Most likely, yes.


But you need to start somewhere. The act of writing it down on a piece of paper and having it stare back at you can be very transformative.


It forces you to examine your core values as a business. Steve Jobs talked about Apple’s core values before Apple had its second renaissance. He explained why it’s important for companies to be really clear about what they want to be known for. And getting clear on your core values and your mission is a big part of this.


So how do you go about creating a powerful mission statement? We’ll explore that later.


2.    Create a customer persona and build an empathy map

Empathy is hard. It's also one of the least used words in marketing. But empathy matters. 

It matters more today than it's ever mattered in the past. 

Why is empathy hard? 

Because it requires you to see the world as your customer sees it. It requires you to believe what they believe and care about what they care about. 

You need to act as if you were the customer (not you). 

Most marketers talk about building an ideal customer persona or a customer avatar. That’s a great start.

But if you want to really understand what it's like to walk in your customers’ shoes, you need to create an empathy map. This framework is a great forcing mechanism.

It requires you to step into your customer's shoes. To see the world as she sees it. 

It requires you to imagine what their world looks like. You need to pretend you're the customer.

Once you understand what the customer thinks, what she believes then, and only then, will be you able to show up with deep empathy.

You'll be able to market with them, not at them. 

I recently had a conversation with Seth Godin about empathy in marketing.

Embedded below is a short excerpt from that conversation.

(You can access the entire video conversation including the show notes here.

3.    Identify and articulate your customer's problem

The easiest way to do this is via online research. But it’s not the only way. You can do market research in one of three main ways. I recommend approaching these in this order of priority.

  • Face to face conversations (via zoom)
  • Audio conversations
  • Survey tools like the Ask method


4.    Develop an offer that solves your customer's problem by asking some of these questions:


  • How does my product or service solve my customer’s problem?
  • What results will my product (or service) deliver to my customer and how will that improve their situation?
  • What will my customer miss out on if they don’t use my product or service?


5.    Help 10-20 ideal customers purchase your offer and learn from those conversations


How does your customer experience his or her problem and what words does she use to explain the problem?

What emotions drive her purchase decision?

What does she need to believe to feel that your product is a good fit for her?



6.    Establish and then monitor your key metrics


One of the most important metrics is your profit per hour. This is not your billable rate but rather your profit you make per week/month/year divided by the number of hours you put in to generate that profit.


Why is this important?


Because it factors in the value of your time. If you’re making $10K a week and working 100 hours a week to make it you don’t have much of a life.


If you’re making $5K a week but are only working 5 hours a week to make that income then you have an excellent lifestyle.


Profit matters. But profit per hour matters to most of us who seek build a business that supports a good lifestyle.


Some other metrics worth paying attention to are what it costs you to acquire a new customer and what your customer lifetime value is.


7.    Build an automated sales process around your buyer’s journey


Several marketers jump right to this step without spending time understanding their ideal customer, or the change they seek to deliver to that customer.


This means that their fundamentals are unclear. They don’t really understand their ideal customer (this takes time) and aren’t crystal clear about the problem they’re solving for that customer.


When they automate a process based on poor fundamentals, they end up with a sales process that is poorly targeted and frustrating to all parties involved. Especially their future customers!


This causes brand damage over the long-term.


Understanding the buyer, their buying process, and the buyer’s journey (before your automate) is critical. It helps you meet your customer where they are on their journey.


Several business owners try to fit the customer’s buying process into their sales process. That might’ve worked several years ago but these days the customer can use google for feature and product discovery. They hold the power and no longer need to be subservient to right sales processes.


I like to think of sales as “purchase facilitation”. It’s where you help the customer buy by giving them as much information as you can (rather than selling to them).



8.  Grow your authority using one or more of the following platforms

I recommend building authority using content marketing as soon as possible. However, if you’re a new business, chances are you need to pay the bills first and focus on getting leads and customers using a more direct approach.


I made the mistake of first building authority using content marketing strategies before I started to focus on finding more customers.


Looking back, I think it would’ve been better of finding clients using direct sales techniques for the following reasons.


  • Working directly with customers gives you good actionable feedback on your sales process
  • It allows you to get clear on what aspects of your offer resonate more with your clients
  • It helps you understand what problem you solve with your customer better
  • All of the above inform your content strategy
  • Furthermore, a lot of content creation can be outsourced e.g. video and audio editing for your YouTube channel and your podcast. Doing it yourself only delays the process of increasing your Profit per hour.


9. Review and refine your process


Don’t gloss over this step. It might seem obvious and might not appear that important. But this holds everything together over the long term. The more you focus on reviewing and refining each of the first 8 steps the better your product will be and the better your sales process will be.


More importantly, you’ll be able to deliver better results to your customers and they’ll become raving fans who will refer you to their friends and clients. Your business will grow more via word of mouth (the best form of marketing there is) and you’ll reduce your customer acquisition costs.


If you deliver lasting and meaningful change through your products and services (which you can only get clear on by refining your process constantly) you’ll build a very powerful brand and raving fans who’ll continue to promote your business without you having to do much advertising.


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