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How to Grow Your Business in 2024 [Step-by-Step]

The landscape of business evolves constantly, adding new challenges and opportunities for growth. Whether you’re just beginning or looking to scale an established business, below are the five steps that will teach you how to grow your business the right way.

We’ll cover the legal foundation to set before scaling, strategies for funding the business, how to attract more customers, and when to hire a team and refine the product.

Before diving into scaling your business, set the legal groundwork. This is crucial for protecting yourself and ensuring a smooth process as you grow.

Choose a Business Structure

In the beginning, it’s common to operate as a sole proprietorship. With this structure, you and the business are viewed as one legal entity. This means any business debts are considered personal debts, and if you run into any legal trouble with your business, personal assets are on the line.

To protect yourself, many business owners open an LLC, or a Limited Liability Company. An LLC offers a layer of protection by separating you and the business. If your business winds up in legal trouble, only your business assets would be up for grabs. While there’s a fee to open an LLC, and some states require ongoing costs and documents, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

For help setting up an LLC, consider using Tailor Brands or LegalZoom—two platforms that walk small business owners through setting up an LLC. If you’d prefer a DIY approach, visit your state’s website for steps on how to file.

Obtain Licenses and Permits

Depending on the type of business you operate, you may need to obtain a license or permit. For example, insurance agents, hair stylists, and electricians need licenses to perform services. These individuals might also need a general business license, sales tax permit, or health permit.

If you’re unsure which licenses or permits you may need, reach out to your local Small Business Administration or simply Google the laws in your state.

There are a few final legal considerations:

  • Filing a DBA
  • Purchasing insurance
  • Trademarks and IP protection
  • Drafting contracts

Filing a DBA

If you plan to operate your business under a name that’s different from your LLC name, you’ll need to file a DBA. A DBA, which stands for “Doing Business As,” costs around $25 to $100 to file depending on your state.

Purchasing Insurance

For an added layer of protection, you may want to purchase business insurance. Common types include:

  • General Liability Insurance: Protects you against claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: Protects you if you or an employee makes a mistake when providing services to a customer, like copyright infringement or inaccurate advice.
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance: If you have employees, purchasing workers’ compensation insurance ensures they’ll receive cash benefits and/or medical care if injured on the job.

Purchase Trademarks or Other IP Protection

If you have intellectual property (IP), you may want to file a patent or trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This provides you with the exclusive right to create, use, or sell the product or information.

Drafting Contracts

If you’re operating a service-based business, you may want to have an attorney draft a contract for you. Contracts are key in setting upfront expectations and preventing future disputes.

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Step 2: Fund the Business

There are two common ways to fund a business—self-funding, also called bootstrapping, and seeking investors. Businesses with low upfront costs, like freelance businesses, typically bootstrap. Businesses with higher upfront costs, like software startups, typically seek investor funding.

If you fall somewhere in between the two, look for business grants. While you won’t find grants that match the amount of funding you’d receive from investors, they’re perfect for companies that don’t need millions to get off the ground.

Check out our blogpost: “Best Business Credit Cards of 2024”

Step 3: Make a Plan to Acquire Customers

How you acquire customers depends on the type of business you’re growing. For example, acquiring leads for a Chick Fil A franchise deal will look a whole lot different than it would for an Amazon dropshipping business.

If you’re unsure what makes sense for your business, look at what competing businesses do. If that doesn’t provide you with any insights, consider reaching out to a marketing consulting firm for help.

Option 1: Social Media Marketing

If you have a direct-to-consumer (D2C) or business-to-consumer (B2C) business model, leveraging platforms like TikTok and Instagram is a great place to start. These platforms allow you to connect with the customer directly. Plus, they offer product-focused selling features, like TikTok Shop and Instagram Shopping, which allow customers to purchase directly through the platform.

If you have a B2B business, like a sales software company, you may find LinkedIn better suits your goals. LinkedIn is best for connecting with business leaders, like sales and marketing staff.

Option 2: Email Marketing

Regardless of business type, it’s wise to build an email list from the beginning. Having an email list allows you to own your audience—if social media goes down, you still have a way to contact potential customers.

Option 3: Form Strategic Partnerships

For some businesses, forming strategic partnerships with other businesses drives significant traffic. For example, Uber partnered with Spotify to launch a “soundtrack for your ride.” This gave both parties new users, making it a win-win for both brands.

Accept the Trial and Error

Finding the right marketing channel for your business can take some trial and error. Don’t get discouraged if the first option you try doesn’t work as well as you’d like.

Treat Marketing Like an Experiment

You never know which marketing method will unlock a new level of success. Treat marketing like an experiment—try one method for 90 days, and if it works, double down on it. If it doesn’t work, pivot to a different method. Over time, you’ll find which marketing channels perform best for your business, giving you a clear path to acquiring new customers.

Step 4: Hire a Team

There are a few common signs it’s time to hire an employee:

  1. You’re having to turn down business.
  2. You can’t keep up with demand.
  3. You’re overwhelmed or could use some support with specific tasks.
  4. Customers are complaining about your service.

Hiring an employee or contractor to work with you can allow you to focus on tasks only you can do. This can help the business grow faster, bringing in more revenue and serving more customers. That said, before hiring, ensure you have the budget to do so and a specific set of tasks for the hire to perform.

Step 5: Refine Your Product or Service

Refining your product or service is key to growing your business, retaining customers, and remaining profitable. No amount of social media marketing, paid ads, or strategic partnerships will sell a poor product or service.

If you’re running a product-based business, ask yourself questions like:

  • At what point in the checkout process do customers back out?
  • What comments do we get on our paid ads?
  • Is the product still resonating with our target customer, even as the market has shifted?

If you’re running a service-based business, ask yourself questions like:

  • How do customers or clients react to my pricing?
  • What feedback do we get on the results customers receive?
  • Are our offerings still on par with the market?

By refining your product or service, you’re increasing the chances of it resonating with your ideal customer. The more customers that purchase, the more revenue you can make.

Wrapping Up on How to Grow Your Business

In conclusion, growing your business requires a strategic approach, focusing on setting a solid legal foundation, securing funding, attracting customers, building a team, and continuously refining your product or service. Each of these steps plays a crucial role in ensuring sustainable growth and long-term success. By carefully navigating these aspects, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges and seize the opportunities that come your way, ultimately leading your business to thrive in a competitive landscape. Remember, growth is a continuous process, and staying adaptable and responsive to changes in the market will keep your business on the path to success.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The most important legal step when starting a business is choosing the right business structure. Many new businesses start as sole proprietorships due to simplicity, but forming an LLC (Limited Liability Company) is often a better option for protecting personal assets from business liabilities. Additionally, you should ensure you have all necessary licenses and permits for your industry and location.

How can I fund my business if I don’t have enough personal savings?

If personal savings are insufficient, there are several ways to fund your business. You can consider bootstrapping, which involves using personal funds and revenue generated by the business to grow it gradually. Alternatively, seeking investors or applying for business grants can provide the needed capital. Business loans and crowdfunding are also viable options depending on your business model and financial needs.

When should I consider hiring employees for my business?

You should consider hiring employees when you experience increased demand that you can’t meet alone, have to turn down business, feel overwhelmed by tasks, or receive customer complaints about service quality. Hiring can help you focus on core business activities and improve service delivery, but it’s crucial to ensure you have the financial stability to support new hires and a clear understanding of the tasks they will perform.