The lifeblood of any business is revenue. As the saying goes "without a top line you have no bottom line." And where does revenue come from? Clearly it comes from the sales you make to customers and the price they are prepared to pay for those sales. At some point, your existing customers will stop buying from you - either because they no longer have a need for your product or service or they have chosen to buy elsewhere. So, the question you need to answer is how do you acquire new customers to replace those who have left you?
There are a few different ways that you can acquire customers. Here are just three.
Word of mouth: If you're working hard to keep your customers happy then word of mouth should happen naturally. When you provide a great product or service, people are going to recommend it to their friends. You can certainly encourage this, too, but it's important not to be too blatant about it.
Offering a discount coupon to anyone who refers a friend is a good way to offer extra value to your customers without being too blatant. For this approach to be successful, you need to make it part of your usual business practices. When you systematise it so that it happens naturally and frequently, it is called a customer referral programme.
Go to where your customers "hang out": It sounds a bit silly but the best place to find customers is to be where your potential customers are. I have seen people spinning their wheels for months trying to bring customers to them, when in reality you just need to go to your customers. So for example, are there trade shows in your niche? Are there conferences or events that you can attend? What about online communities where your customers might be? There are all good places to start.
Use your attendance at these gatherings to get the word out about your business - but a word of caution; do not "push" your products or services because if you are seen to be attending just to "sell" your business then you will very soon find yourself unwelcome. Instead, make contributions to these events by offering free advice or asking and answering attendee's questions. Provide value consistently and ask for nothing in return - you will then soon find that people come to you and your business naturally.
Leave no doubt in their minds: Get rid of any reason a potential customer might have for not giving you a try. Offer a guarantee, a more-than-fair refund policy and make sure your product or service will live up to the promises you make. When your customer has no reason not to give your product or service a try, you've made a sale! Eliminating any risk that a potential customer might see is essential in turning them from a prospect into a lifelong customer of yours.
Would you like to know more about how to start and grow your own small business? Then get my free guide "The Only 7 Tools You Need To Boost The Profits Of Your Business In 2014 And Beyond" at http://www.startupsuccess.co.uk/blog
Steve Carter is founder of Startup Success and a serial entrepreneur who has built and grown his own businesses in a variety of industry sectors.