Grow or die.
It sounds like the title of a rap song, but it's actually the business idea that if your company doesn't grow, it's probably not going to make it. The reality is that you don't need to get bigger. What you need is a stream of customers to replace the ones that move, buy from you a little less, or have other life circumstances that change the level of business they do with you.
Yes, it's nice to add business and grow. It's more important, however, to make sure you stay on target. You may have a small business, but it can get a lot smaller if you don't build a pipeline to keep the customers flowing.
Fortunately, that's not as hard as it seems. In fact, you have many of the resources you need already available to you.
1. Leverage your existing customers
Your most loyal customers should be willing to tell their friends and family about how great your business is. It's OK to ask them to do that and even better if you give them an incentive to do so (like an extra discount).
You may want to schedule a friends and family event where you offer better prices for a few hours to anyone who brings in new customers. In addition, you could hold a sort of open house where you serve food, wine, or snacks as you introduce what you offer to people referred to you by your most loyal customers.
2. Use social media
Social media isn't just about letting people know when you have a sale. Have fun with it and run contests or create conversations. Getting your existing user base to participate can cause them to bring in new people.
Nobody is that excited by a 10% off sale. People may, however, want to share their favorite movie, TV show, or anything else. Be inventive and have social media feed that's fun first and business-related a distant second. Build your name and an audience, and customers will come.
3. Be part of the community
The CEO of a big-box store rarely attends a high school play or goes to a Little League game. Some big businesses may make donations or buy a sponsorship, but you can take it a step further.
Provide snacks for a school event or sponsor a drink station at a community gathering. Don't just spend the money. Be there and meet people. Make your business a part of the conversation, but mostly, remind people that you live here. You're not a big business. You're a neighbor, and making that connection can bring in new customers.
It's about connections
As a small business, you may not be the cheapest option or have the largest selection. You can, however, be the company that pays the most attention to its customers.
Learn people's names. Greet them and make them feel welcome. Know what they like and what they don't.
Don't create connections just because it's good for business. Make friends with the people who walk through your door. Think about your business as if you're building an extended family. If you treat people well and give them the personal touch, they will not just be loyal, they will likely become advocates for your brand.