Finding ways to scale and grow a company or team in the ever-evolving business landscape — especially in the post-pandemic world — can prove difficult for small businesses.

During a recent CO— Roadmap to Rebuilding event, CO—’s editor-in-chief Jeanette Mulvey led an in-depth discussion about scaling businesses with four expert panelists, including Justin Croxton, CEO and managing partner at Propellant Media; Sara Irvani, CEO of Okabashi Brands; Michelle Aragon, vice president of brand marketing and strategy at Spectrum Reach; and Thomas Sutter of the Finance Centre for Excellence at Oracle NetSuite.

The panelists shared their best tips for small businesses looking to reach new markets and customers, as well as strategies on how to use technology to scale their businesses.

To stay competitive, small businesses can leverage technology to scale interest

Michelle Aragon advised business owners to evolve with technology while continuing basic marketing strategies. She shared a three-pronged approach to identifying areas for reach and maintaining existing customers:

  • Know your customers.“Once you know who your customers are, it’s easier to find more of those customers in your marketing tactics,” said Aragon.
  • Create awareness and interest. Generating awareness for your product or service requires targeting the right digital marketing channels. “It's super easy to go on your laptop and set up a campaign in a matter of minutes,” Aragon said.
  • Create engaging content. Aragon recommended creating content that benefits consumers’ lives, and then promoting that content through SEO campaigns, social media platforms and more.

Investment in online platforms enables business growth

Online sales and marketing automation software like HubSpot can propel a business’s growth, said Justin Croxton. His company not only uses the CRM function of HubSpot, but has found the features for email marketing, pop-ups for downloads and chatbots to be revolutionary in helping prospective customers convert when they get to Propellant Media’s website.

“We have a pop-up ... on our website [that] gives people an opportunity to download one of our guides … [and] it doubled our conversion rates,” said Croxton. “If you think about all the money that you're putting into advertising and to brand-building … the investment that you make in conversion rate optimization automatically reduces your cost for customer acquisition.”

[Read more: Best Online Marketing Services For Your Business]

Once you know who your customers are, it’s easier to find more of those customers in your marketing tactics.

Michelle Aragon, vice president of brand marketing and strategy, Spectrum Reach

Visibility, efficiency and automation are the keys to small business success

Sutter noted that the three essential and interconnected elements of a successful business are visibility, efficiency and automation.

“The entire business needs the visibility … of what's going on,” said Sutter. “Once you have that, [ask yourself], how efficient are you at looking at … that detailed information, or how efficient are you at putting more information into your systems to get better visibility? Then third on top of that is going to be automation. Even when you're scaling, you don't have to have everything ... be automated. You're looking for things that are as standard as possible, and ... you manage by exception, but you need the visibility of what is an exception.”

Small business considerations for scaling

Sometimes businesses grow too fast and leaders need to find a way to “pump the brakes” without sabotaging overall efforts. Sara Irvani offered two considerations for businesses to keep in mind while scaling a business.

“The first is … make sure that you are financially responsible and you know what getting to the next level means in terms of financial commitment,” said Irvani.

She stressed the importance of finding mentors, friends or partners to help with managing money for people who aren’t as strong financially.

Irvani’s second consideration revolved around people: “Automate the processes that you can; that you bring in more technology so that you can scale with [your] team, but make sure that you're doing pulse checks [to] make sure that everyone is emotionally there, that morale is high and [that] growth is exciting,” she said.

[Read More: How to Incorporate Technology Into Your Business Operations]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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