If you own a small business, you’ll be familiar with the cyclical growing pains of trying to scale.
Many businesses start without investment, often with the founder being responsible for all business functions. Sales, product/service development, relationship management, accounts, marketing, and public relations. It’s a chicken and egg scenario that leaves a lot of brands stuck as small start-ups, not to mention burnt-out entrepreneurs.
“In the early days of WOI, I recall travelling every week – up to 40 trips per year, working till midnight was normal as were weekends and holidays. Vacations were rare (and stressful). There were times I thought of returning to the corporate world where “it” can all be someone else’s problem. I know I wasn’t the only entrepreneur that felt this way, so I looked for resources to scale the business and keep my sanity. In this January blog, here are my tips for growing your business in 2024”.
Sarah Keates, Founder, WOI.
1. Efficient systems and workflow
It can be tempting to do it all yourself, which is faster in the short term but limits growth in the long-term. While you may not yet be better to seek investment or grow your team, put in place as many systems as possible to get back time. Here are some that have worked for WOI:
- Scheduling tools for social media
- There are lots to choose from depending on your social media strategy. At WOI, we create content that’s specialized to the platform. For example, long-form, thought leadership pieces for LinkedIn, video with trending audio for Instagram, interactive content for WeChat.
- Most platforms allow “fine-tuning” so that you can create different versions of the same post that will publish automatically. WOI prefers Loomly – which is reliable and easy to use. Multiple parties can contribute to the same post and when ready, simply schedule and the post will go live.
- At the end of each reporting period, it’s easy to pull analytics and see what’s performing, what’s not, and where to tweak your strategy going forward. Loomly (and most social media platforms) also give suggestions for your industry. So, you’ll never miss World Aviation Day, or Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or whichever days of importance are a priority for your brand.
- The overall benefits here are:
- save time and resource
- get strategic at least a quarter in advance
- have a clear content calendar to share with stake-holders
- have sight of analytics and what is performing well and where adjustments need to be made
2. Outsource what you can
Again, small businesses can be reluctant to outsource. Lots of agencies, virtual assistants, and freelancers can lead to disappointing outcomes. WOI recommends that you outsource your social media, public relations, and communications strategy. Packages start from just HKD7000 per month with clear KPI’s and deliverables. If you’re not able to outsource, streamline and assign days to creating content, networking with the media, and using tools for small businesses.
3. Have a vision for 2024, broken down into clear, quarterly plans
Often we see brands “on the back foot” with their public relations and marketing strategies. The bosses want coverage, the sales team needs leads, and they look to marketing to ensure this happens. First, it’s important to recognize the difference between marketing and PR. These feed into one another but are not the same area of work. Typically, they require a team of specialists or at the very least, a professional with solid experience in both areas. Marketing goes wrong when the strategy isn’t planned effectively. Here’s what we do at WOI that works for us and our clients:
- Create a content calendar for the year ahead
- Map out any known events, public holidays, trade shows, major events e.g. Arts Week in Hong Kong.
- From here, work backwards, strategetising what digital and offline events your brand wants to play a part in / comment on.
- Have your marketing team create content for these events / days.
- Look for collaboration opportunities with similar / adjacent brands. Keep in mind that collaborations can take weeks to set up and agree, so again, it’s vital to plan. An example would be a giveaway among a group of brands with a similar audience.
- Now, look at the gaps (there will be lots). Use these to showcase your vision, team, contribution to the industry and community you are in.
- Look at building in content marketing (blogs) and email marketing (EDMs) to complement your social media strategy. Ensure all your content is “working hard” for you by ensuring it’s SEO rich.
- Consider using Ai to help you while your business is still small. We would add that using Ai can save lots of time, but it’s fairly obvious what has been written by Chat GPT – so the human element will be needed if you still want to engage your audience and find your space among the competition.
4. Work your relationships
As one of our favourite podcasters, Jordan Harbinger, says – “dig the well before you get thirsty”. He is referring to maintaining your relationships before you need them for businesses purposes. It’s networking, but without it being gross and creepy. For us, this is the best part of our work at WOI – relationships. We invest a lot of time in getting to know our clients, potential clients, the media, influencers / KOLs and other stakeholders. When the time comes when you may have an opportunity to work with that person / brand – you’re not going in cold – you already know one another.
We hope this is helpful, if you enjoyed this blog, we woiuld be so grateful if you share it on social media using the links below.
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