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Growing Your Business

Increasing Sales and Gaining Customers

Once your product or service is established in the marketplace, it might be time to take it to the next level and expand the reach of your business. Expansion efforts should be considered carefully and researched thoroughly, however, to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks.

First, consider expanding your sales and marketing strategy to try to reach bigger customers in new areas. A few ideas to help make it happen:

Hire an expert. Consider hiring a distributor or representative who has experience and proven relationships in your industry. Such a person can help get your product into more stores or distributed via new sales channels. Some distributors also specialize in selling U.S. products on the foreign market, which can help you succeed in the global market.

Study the market. You know how your product or service fits into its niche now. Are there other areas where it could be useful? Other target markets to explore?

Go local. See if there are any programs in your area that can help you sell more products or services locally. Both national, "big box" retailers and small, local chains often seek out regional suppliers for unique products. Some communities also offer support programs to local business owners. Talk with your Chamber of Commerce or small business group to explore possibilities.

Go virtual. If you run a brick-and-mortar business, consider expanding to the online channel. Selling products and services online can gain you hundreds, if not thousands of new customers in a short period of time. Make sure you tailor your sales and marketing strategy to the e-commerce world, and build a website that appeals to customers and makes it easy for them to find and purchase from your business.

Expand your product line. Maybe you entered the marketplace with a single product or service, and perhaps it has been a successful venture for you. Eventually, the market can become saturated, causing your business growth to level off. Explore add-on products and services you could sell to your already-loyal customers. Or, consider new lines that might appeal to a different segment of the market or that could be sold through new channels.

As you expand and grow your business, adhere to the same sound principles you followed when you first started out. Research your potential markets carefully, make specific sales and marketing projections, and set up sales activities that will help you meet those projections without overburdening your cash flow.

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