Marking the one-year anniversary of opening your small business is an achievement worthy of celebrating. (For those still in those all-important, first 12 months, read our tips on how to survive). Now that you have reached that first milestone, the next step is to consider how you can grow your business this year and beyond. Here are a few things you can do to help your business prosper.

Connect with your local community

Your first year of business is often spent focusing on making sure that everything that’s happening in-store or in your office is being done well. Moving into your second year of business, step away from your desk or register and make a concerted effort to get to know your local community.

Take part in local and regional events. Support the small businesses around you. Join the nearest Chamber or Commerce or trade association. Sponsor a local initiative, like the primary school sports team, or make a donation towards the neighbourhood community garden. Spend more time getting to know your regular clients.

Become the face of your business. Encourage and grow relationships with those around you. People will want to help you succeed and support you. They’ll shop with you, refer you and look out for you. Building and nurturing relationships is one of the most organic ways to grow your business.

Grow your skillset

Most small business owners think that their stores or businesses will fall apart without their daily presence. The truth however is if you have a strong and reliable manager or team in place your time may be better spent. Are there opportunities to undertake further training or help out in head office? Is there an area of the business you would like to better understand through study? For example, sales, business development or managing staff. Look at outlets to further your skills and education and reinvest them into helping grow your business.

Build and manage your online presence

There are many opportunities to grow your business presence online. Creating social media profiles for your business can help you connect and engage with your customers, promote your business, and share its stories and that of the people behind it. Consider the social media platforms best suited to your business and its customers. You don’t need to be on every platform just those that will benefit your business the most. Be sure to make time to regularly maintain and manage them.

On a personal level as a business owner, writing blogs, LinkedIn posts and lending your voice and comments to industry discussions can also help grow your name as an authority, and subsequently that of your business.

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