Growing Your Business in Lincoln, NE
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin
Once you’ve turned your business from an idea into a reality, with your vision of its potential at the forefront you’ll now be focusing your efforts on growing your business from here on out. In terms of the growth of a business, this could mean a number of things from expanding your offerings to adding more locations and staff or increasing your client base, just to name a few of the top goals in this area.
Venturing into uncharted territory, growing pains are all-too common, especially for newly-launched businesses that are experiencing exponential growth very quickly while working towards establishing a strong foundation. But it can even prove to be challenging for the well-established businesses too; hitting plateaus and navigating past them often calls for review and modification of the current growth strategy, being open to new ideas and changes wherever they are needed. While there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all plan for successfully growing your business, there are a few universal factors that will largely determine whether you sink or swim.
Your Presence in the Marketplace
First and foremost, for your business to grow, people need to be aware that it exists. Having a strong presence in your marketplace and online are both of importance, and this is a combination of many different things working together for optimal visibility, including a solid marketing strategy, storefront and signage, and involvement in your community (local Chamber of Commerce, industry and networking organizations, volunteer efforts, trade shows and events, and so on), just to name a few of the key ways to stand out in a crowded marketplace and attract customers.
With so much to take advantage of, first defining your objectives will allow you a clear picture of how to best move forward with promotion, which you’ll continue to build upon as your business grows. “At Aradius Group, our guarantee to our clients is ‘measurable results.’ We are in the business of making sure our clients are successful, which ultimately starts with understanding their goals,” emphasizes Chuck Kinzer, President of Aradius Group (www.aradiusgroup.com). “Centering on what they are trying to accomplish helps us put together a plan that incorporates the necessary steps towards attaining those goals. It’s helpful to define your core values in order to have a strong foundation from which to grow, and keeping that top of mind will also allow you to direct the growth of your organization.
That being said, your employees should also be focused on these same goals you’ve just established. Engaged employees equal engaged customers; it all starts with your team. Make sure that everyone has an understanding of what you want to accomplish and is dedicated to moving in that same direction. Next, define what verticals you want to go after and where exactly you might find the perfect customer who’s in need of what you have to offer. From there, it becomes a matter of marketing yourself effectively. There are a myriad of ways to communicate and reach people, so it’s all about finding the methods that provide the desired results. Social media is still considered to be a new trend, although it’s now mainstream due to millennials becoming increasingly influential in the marketplace. Surprisingly to a lot of people, direct mail is still proving to be just as powerful as it’s ever been despite the movement towards reaching people online, particularly on their mobile devices. As an overarching principle that has stood the test of time as the marketing landscape has evolved, don’t focus on just one form of marketing, but rather on developing your identity with a more complex media mix. However, even the greatest marketing program can’t stand alone; you need to back it up with the consistent quality of your offerings. Centering on your clients and ensuring that the customer experience stays positive over time will be essential for sustaining long-term growth.”
As previously touched upon, enhancing your online presence is certainly worth exploring and continuously revisiting, as new developments are emerging all the time. If you don’t have an online presence, you should, and if you do, you should be improving upon it regularly. At the most basic level, there are generally two major things to take into consideration: where you’re reaching people (and more specifically, your target demographic) and where you’re driving people with your messaging. Social media is truly a force in today’s marketing landscape, but simply having a Facebook page or setting up your Twitter account isn’t enough to achieve a strong and impactful presence—you also need tools that promote engagement.
“Video for Facebook is really hot right now for local businesses looking to gain more exposure,” advises Tyler Weihe, Co-Founder of Switch Up Media (SwitchUpMedia.com). “Facebook’s sharing algorithm has instilled more confidence in advertisers because the results are astonishing – and you can see them within hours. Businesses can target audiences based on interests, geographical location, and other demographics, and it’s a really inexpensive way to gain a lot of exposure among a younger crowd. You’ll see a lot of companies using creative videos, keeping the length to under a minute, to explain products, services and events, so depending on what areas of your business you’re looking to grow, Facebook video can really boost your exposure.
He continues, “In successfully growing any business, establishing trust is huge. A lot of that begins with your products and customer service, but having a positive online presence is crucial when building that trusted connection with potential customers. Growth means new customers, and the more comfortable the potential client feels about your company, the more likely it is that he or she will move forward with contacting you. Businesses with a dysfunctional website or bad online reviews could be losing customers to competitors, so you want to fix those problems right away.”
When it comes to traditional marketing tools with a modern twist that are great for branding, with a long shelf life that allows them to be passed along and seen by many people, there are two things that fit the bill nicely – print publications and promotional products.
Those who are smart about growing their business understand the importance of targeted promotion, but also take full advantage of the promotional opportunities that require very little legwork and a minimal investment of time and resources. A prime example of this is what is commonly referred to as “swag,” or promotional products that provide greater visibility by incorporating company branding into t-shirts, koozies, Frisbees, pens – anything that will get regular use or be seen by the masses.
“Corporate apparel or promotional products are often an afterthought for organizations,” says Mike Eldridge, President/CEO of Sunflower Marketing (www.SunflowerMarketing.com). “Usually someone gets stuck with the duty of making sure that the whole office is properly outfitted and armed with company swag, which takes loads of time and distracts from their primary duties. We’ve been able to help companies automate this process through online company stores. Rather than having one person gather order forms, this system offers the ability to send a link for people to purchase according to their needs. We also offer customer service with our online stores, which removes another headache from the primary buyer, allowing that person to focus on what they are good at. In following with the trend in our industry of online selling, we also just launched a website (www.12ormoretees.com) that allows people to customize and order shirts in quantities of 12 or more. We’ve spent the past 30 years with a strong focus on creating meaningful relationships with our clients, but the reality of it is that there are a lot of people out there that are more focused on the ease of the order which the Internet provides.”
While you may not associate it directly with marketing, joining your local Chamber of Commerce will also help you establish a strong presence in your respective marketplace. Jaime Henning of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce (www.lcoc.com) explains, “Membership can help you accomplish several things: Get your name out there, create networking opportunities and establish a sense of authority. In marketing your business it is important to think about and consider your business and target clientele. Are you looking to build local B2B relationships or grow a local business? If these are your primary goals, the local Chamber of Commerce is a good place for you. We have programs, services and opportunities for every size business and are a great partner in taking the next steps toward growth. Our team at the Chamber wants you to be part of our organization and we will go to work to help you grow your business as we advocate for a positive business climate in Lincoln. If you would like to be part of our organization, call us at (402) 436-2350.”
Your People Who Make It All Happen
With the sustained growth of a business comes the need for more personnel to make everything happen in a way that’s conducive to the continued success of the business as it transforms into a larger entity with more working parts. Make no mistake: Your people will make all the difference when it comes to growing your business.
When asked what she considers to be the determining factors in successfully growing a business as it relates to the staffing industry, Angela Caldwell, Branch Manager at Manpower (www.Manpower.com) replies, “People, creativity and branding!”
Expanding upon each of these three points of focus, she explains, “First, you have to get the right people on the bus to make your business successful. This will need to be a diverse group of individuals who will complement each other, so you’ll want to focus on adding people who will have strengths that the others do not possess. Second, encourage creativity with your employees. Bring individuals in from all generations who can discuss new trends, review consistent practices and embrace the knowledge that has seen the ups and downs in the industry. Finally, brand yourself and stay consistent with those efforts. Whether it’s a service or a product, get your name out there, promote, stay up to date, and make a conscious effort to branch off from your original product.
However, be careful never to put all your eggs in one basket! With branding, these are all things that your people will be tasked with developing and implementing so it’s important that everyone is on the same page, working together towards the same goals.
Finding employees and talent is what Manpower does. We source, recruit, screen, interview, and place candidates every day. Contact us to discuss your needs today at (402) 326-0934 or you are welcome to email me directly at email@example.com.”
“Who you bring onto your team is the most important determining factor in growing a business,” agrees Larry Stenberg, former President and current Fellow of Talent Plus. “As Jim Collins said, ‘First who, then what.’ We believe in scientifically measuring talent in individuals and aligning talent with organizations in roles that will provide the most opportunity for great success. This benefits both the individual, who is happy doing things they naturally love and are good at, and the organization, which can build teams to move their company forward with great innovation, productivity and profitability. We work with companies at all levels of their organization to get the most out of their talented people, which are any organization’s greatest asset. While technology will change, economic conditions may fluctuate and trends of popular products and services may alter over time, the greatest asset needed to propel a growth strategy forward, is great people dedicated to the mission and willing to adapt to the changing climate. Selecting talented people and developing their talents so they see a clear career path forward and providing a culture where they want to work will propel any specific growth strategy forward more than anything else.”
He also notes, “It’s commonplace to be intentional about building a desired culture. Credentials, experience and education do not tell whether someone is a natural fit for a culture. Scientific-assessment supplies the information needed to make that determination. And when you intentionally build a culture that supports progressive, innovative ideas from extremely talented individuals and teams, nothing will grow your business faster or smarter. Explore more with us at www.talentplus.com or don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (402) 489-2000.”
Your Tools And How to Make The Most of Them
While undoubtedly a rewarding endeavor, growing a business requires a lot of things coming together in the right ways, which can be incredibly overwhelming at times. Luckily there are many businesses and organizations out there whose mission is to provide you the tools and resources that you’ll need to successfully grow your own business. Building upon what we’ve previously mentioned, as companies grow, being able to conduct business functions online becomes increasingly important. To help save time, money, and paper, the Nebraska Department of Labor provides employers with a variety of web resources.
NEworks.nebraska.gov is the state’s free online jobs portal that allows companies looking to expand their workforce to set up a Virtual Recruiter. Using the unique search criteria of your position, the Virtual Recruiter provides daily, weekly, monthly, or on-demand candidate searches. The advanced search function allows employers to select from a vast array of criteria, identify required skills, and rank resumes by skill set. These tools limit the number of resumes to the candidates who meet the job requirements, returning the top talent for your organization. NEworks also provides access to a variety of labor market information and publications that feature economic, occupational, and demographic data.
Over time, most companies will eventually experience some turnover. Employers can use the Department of Labor’s UIConnect portal (dol.nebraska.gov/uiconnect) for a variety of unemployment insurance functions, including applying for an unemployment insurance tax account number, filing required reports, making electronic payments, and updating account information. One of the greatest time savers for employers is the automatic calculation of taxable and excess wages when filing combined wage and tax reports. The website calculates the amount owed and allows easy payment via ACH Debit or voucher. In addition, the Message Board provides information to employers regarding status of reports and payments. Within the UIConnect Benefit Center, employers can sign up for electronic submission of unemployment insurance information that’s required by the state when an employee files a claim for unemployment benefits. With E-Response, the employer receives an email notice instead of a paper form when the state requires information, and responds online through the secure SIDES (State Information Data Exchange System) website. Rather than mailing supporting documents, SIDES allows for uploading documents into the electronic submission form. The online form is nationally-standardized, so as companies grow, and possibly expand to other states, HR doesn’t have to worry about varying requirements.
Other services offered through the Department of Labor’s main website, dol.nebraska.gov, include contractor registration and renewal, and electronic safety program request forms. The OSHA 21d Workplace Safety Consultation Program is a no-cost, confidential program that is provided to small, high-risk employers in the state. At the employer’s request, safety consultants and industrial hygienists with the 21d program perform surveys of an employer’s location and make suggestions to improve safety. Inspections of boilers and elevators can also be scheduled through the website.
In line with what we’ve discussed regarding building your team to accommodate the growth of your business, it’s not only about who you bring on internally, but also the businesses you partner with that come alongside and focus on filling in the gaps where you need the most help. A perfect example of outsourcing as your business grows is hiring a reputable answering service to assist with your higher phone traffic. “It can take years to earn a client but only seconds to lose one,” stresses Megan Lipert-Murphy, owner of Executive Answering Service (www.Executive-Answering.com). “It’s important to maintain a high level of customer service and responsiveness even during times of growth when you’re stretched thin and busy making adjustments for transition. Thirty years ago the primary function of an answering service was the reach someone for emergencies, but in 2016 there is so much more offered for a large variety of industries! ‘Virtual receptionists’ can save a company the overheard costs of an employee including salary, insurance, and training. Executive Answering Service offers virtual receptionists, order entry, appointment scheduling, emergency dispatch, call triage, the best customer service available, and so much more!”
It’s important to note that there are some resources out there that may come to mind for one thing but have a whole host of other related offerings that could help your business with growth. Consider office space – we all know that moving to a larger space makes sense to accommodate growth, but what if you also had access to a host of amenities that would make life so much easier while you are spending most of your time keeping everything running smoothly while in the midst of transition?
“When growing a business there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration,” agrees Michael Holroyd of Holroyd Investment Properties (HIP Realty and HIP OffiCenters; www.HIPRealty.com). “One person, no matter how much they would like to, does not always have the time to dedicate to each question or concern. Therefore, in order to make your business a growing success, it is paramount that the right people be hired to help take on those roles and responsibilities. For over 23 years HIP OffiCenters has gone through many business changes and expansions. Based on our experience, we’ve designed a full-service office environment that offers all of the tools that a new or existing business needs to grow and be successful. We provide full reception services, support staff, and phone answering. A well-trained staff is very important for creating first impressions with new clients. Along with furnished offices, we offer several virtual office packages which include a physical address and many of our amenities. Virtual offices are a way for someone to have the benefits of an office and staff while working from any location. Utilizing the business address also allows you to take advantage of mail handling, a local phone number with telephone answering and voicemail, a conference room or an office for the day as needed. While renting from us, there are no up-front costs in buildouts or infrastructure. High-speed fiber-optic internet, an executive conference room, copy center, kitchen facilities, break room, janitorial services, all utilities paid and free parking are all available on-site and are included in your rent. We provide a complete office solution, so you can focus your time on growing and managing your business.”
As it costs money to make money, your revenue stream will largely dictate the tools you are able to put in place to support the growth of your business. While you may theoretically have earned the money, you certainly aren’t able to put it to work unless you’ve actually been able to collect it first. “Choosing a trusted, established collection company is critical to the growth of your business as it will keep money coming in, minimize your losses, protect you from any type of related litigation, and free up your time to focus on doing what you do best,” explains Aaron Newell, owner of AR Solutions (www.ARSolutionsInc.com). “These are people tasked with acting as an extension of your company and in direct communication with your clients, so how the collection agency representatives present themselves and the methods of collection are extremely important. Therefore, to best gauge these matters, it’s helpful to ask how it all works, from securely providing client information for collection purposes to the actual communication process—everything up to the point that the account is paid in full. There are a multitude of checks and balances that should be in place in order to ensure that you as the client are insulated, from properly auditing charges to utilizing the appropriate means of communication and staying within the letter of the law and best industry practices. At AR Solutions we take our role very seriously, and we don’t get paid until our clients get paid. We also conduct business on behalf of our clients with the goal of coming to a mutual agreement to get the account paid that doesn’t negatively affect the potential for doing business again in the future if at all possible. Above all, your time as a business owner is much better spent using your talents to drive your business forward and grow your client base.”
Within the city of Lincoln exists a landscape of growing businesses, all at different stages in the process and as such, with different needs to move forward towards realizing the vision for the future of their organizations. However, big or small, they are all united in the fact that in order to grow and prosper, it’s a must to focus on what will best elevate the business in all areas, positioning it for success as it evolves. Bringing on the right professionals who have experience in coming alongside a business to help it grow is ultimately what will keep you on the right track.