Growing Your Business in Omaha, NE – 2018
If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re among the legion of business owners who are actively working to grow their companies and/or professionals who are tasked with business development. While not all businesses have the goal of growth or are investing their resources in it, it’s safe to say that the vast majority do and are. Mirroring that, there are a wealth of resources right here in the Omaha Metro with specific offerings that can help businesses grow. To learn more about exactly how, keep reading!
Are you out in front of potential and current customers? If you aren’t, is referral business alone enough to support the sustained growth of your business?
Although integral to the growth of any business and a common way to generate business, especially here in the Omaha-area community, it’s highly unlikely to be enough on its own. Making contact with people who have never been exposed to your business before and offering new ways for people who are familiar with you to engage with your brand are both equally important.
Effective marketing not only increases awareness, it educates your target audience about your offerings, provides a value proposition and a call to action, sets you apart from the competition, establishes you as an expert, and adds to your credibility – all things that people are looking for today to help them decide who they want to do business with from among the number of options in any given marketplace, ours included. Depending on your goals, whether it’s branding or a targeted promotion, there are excellent media options to utilize in a campaign that will generate more business, thereby leading to the growth of your business.
Another effective way to get your brand seen, but more specifically while you’re already out and about anyway, is through mobile advertising on vehicles. Whether you have a fleet of service or delivery vehicles, trailers and mobile equipment, or even a personal vehicle that you drive to and from your business, vehicle graphics are a great investment. Great design can bring great results.
Signage on your storefront is also important for enhanced visibility to passersby. Depending on your location, yard signs, banners, and feather flags may be a good option. If you have large exterior windows, window graphics are a great way to add to the appeal of your store and advertise your products to people passing by.
Similarly, promotional products that display your brand are also excellent ways to get noticed and promote brand recognition, which ultimately drives business and growth.
There’s no question that your people are a big part of the success, or failure, of any business. Do you have enough people in place to support growth? Even more important, do you have the right people?
Talent acquisition and retention are a big deal right now with competition being fierce due to a labor shortage in many industries. With historically low unemployment rates, you need to know where to find the right people, and then be ready and willing to do what it takes to seal the deal.
“Unemployment is at an extraordinary low,” advises Brad Jones with MyStaff, Inc. “Qualified job seekers are presently receiving multiple offers and are often less willing to consider temporary or temp-to-hire employment options. We are finding that more employers are utilizing our Direct Hire services to recruit talent into their organization. Our team can help employers find and obtain skilled professionals who might not be actively looking for a new position.
We strongly encourage employers to move quickly. If the first candidate you interview knocks your socks off, HIRE THEM before another company makes them an offer. Don’t feel like you need to interview three comparison candidates. Likewise, be prepared to pay competitive wages. We are experiencing counteroffers, sign-on bonuses and higher wages in this economy.
At MyStaff, Inc., we can relate to the challenges our current economy presents for employers as staffing in Omaha can be a crowded industry. Companies and job seekers have many options when selecting a recruiting service too. Like many industries, I think internal employees make all the difference. I’ve always heard that ‘people work with people, people don’t work with companies.’ So we’ve made it our goal to hire likable industry experts who know how to build and maintain relationships. We want MyStaff to have a great name in town but more importantly, we want our team members to have individually built a reputation of integrity and success.”
On that note, Jones concludes, “The MyStaff team works to connect talented job seekers with attractive employment opportunities. Many of our clients are small business owners who don’t have time or access to the resources necessary to seek out talent. We are able to present high-potential employees to help businesses grow and achieve objectives. Rather than hire a full-time HR person and/or pay for costly job boards, MyStaff can simplify the hiring process and find qualified applicants quickly and efficiently.”
Developing the people you have in place, from the owners and leadership team to the employees, is another important part of growth as it keeps you moving forward and collectively working toward achieving your goals. You may not think you have time or it’s needed, but professional coaching and/or mentoring can be invaluable to a business owner or manager who is responsible for leading his/her business to successful outcomes.
“As a leadership/executive coach, my role is to help clients grow their companies,” notes Dan Weber with Peak Pathways. “What we focus on is growing the capability of the workforce from the leader on down through the entire organization. Our foundational belief is that a company cannot grow any faster than the people in it grow. The leadership team ideally models that commitment to personal and professional growth with both words and actions.
At Peak Pathways, we customize our solutions in every situation, whether it is leadership coaching, career transition coaching, team coaching, or employee hiring and development. We think of coaching as just-in-time training; if the time a client spends with us seems like an incremental commitment of their time, we are talking about the wrong things. Our conversations focus on what happened in the last week or what is challenging them in the week ahead.”
Tying everything together, he emphasizes, “Growing a business means getting more results. The simple formula we get clients to focus on is capability multiplied by action equals results. Developing capability is commonly done through professional development, technology, production capacity or adding staff. Increasing action, however, can many times have the most impact. Leaders who understand people and help them feel better about themselves as well as fare better can exponentially increase action. When everyone is engaged and each team member knows they make important contributions to helping the entire team win the growth is bound to happen.”
How are you currently utilizing technology? What’s out there that you haven’t tapped into yet? Today there are so many ways that technology can be leveraged to power business growth.
First and foremost, with the Internet of Things (IoT) and use of devices and sophisticated platforms to conduct business across all industries in the place of business and outside of it, you need to have the infrastructure and connectivity to support your operations.
“We are in a period of incredible technological change that significantly impacts all businesses,” explains Deena Hamilton with Cox Business. “In a hyper-connected world, businesses must ensure they have the mobility, bandwidth, and security to manage their businesses and satisfy customer needs in a competitive environment. This often requires technological investments – and the knowledge of where and how to invest. We increasingly see business owners and managers become more comfortable turning to others for help. They value the expertise a trusted advisor can provide and understand it can be more cost-effective to leverage business services providers to stay current with evolving technologies rather than hiring internal resources.
Cox Business is a full-service provider specializing in voice, data, video and security solutions that scale to meet the needs of any size business. We offer a hosted phone system rich in feature functionality that allows team members to work remotely while appearing to be ‘in the office.’ With user controls accessible from any internet connection, this solution is instrumental in business continuity and disaster recovery plans to protect business operations. The need for secure, fast connectivity isn’t a new trend, but it continues to require active network management. Businesses need the bandwidth to keep employees productive and customers happy. Working with Cox Business account teams solutions are designed for your business knowing that one size and speed does not fit all.
Technology investments can and should save money and help grow your business. Get help from experts who take the time to understand your business, and provide and manage the services that are right for you.”
As a business grows, so do the demands upon their technology. It is at this point that small nuances can become major problems. Worse yet, the technology that is serving your business needs fine today can, and often does, hinder your business as it grows. This can be avoided, if you have a trusted partner who will explain these things to you, in a way that you understand. Technology does not have to be a thing that only the experts understand.
Also, sometimes it’s the little things that can be the most impactful, particularly for small businesses with limited resources. Take for example something as simple as Google’s G Suite. It’s perceived to be more professional and there’s a higher trust and credibility factor with an email that uses your domain name as opposed to @gmail.com or @yahoo.com. You can also take advantage of improved email security, a full suite of productivity apps, and accessibility from anywhere on any device.
When you think of technology, what first comes to mind is usually devices – computers, tablets, smartphones – and software/applications. But having a technology strategy, and planning thoughtfully for how you’ll use these things to grow your business, is just as important as the things themselves.
“The purpose of Virtual C is to help companies navigate the business ocean,” says Adam Walter with Virtual C. “The advantage of working with us is that you no longer have to think about technology strategy. You can focus on business strategy and product development knowing that you have a partner guiding your technology and staff to better solutions.
Specifically, we are currently focusing on technology growth. Companies tend to get stuck relying on a product or single vendor to make technology decisions. Our company comes in with unbiased advice to help your company scale. Sometimes this means coaching services for your management staff, sometimes it means a review of your company’s strategy. We work with a variety of businesses from small non-profits to large fortune 500 companies. At Virtual C we are not interested in forcing you to buy more technology; we are interested in helping your business grow.”
He also sheds light on another common pitfall. “So often we see experienced people who are working in silos. They know how to do their job and try to show up with the wow factor in hand. Our company encourages an iterative approach to involve the customers throughout the process to get continuous feedback. By doing so, a customer doesn’t ever experience radio silence; they instead get to see the inner workings of the business as the product is delivered. My advice is to stop hiding things from employees and customers and start sharing as much as is possible. Utilize technology that increases communication in a seamless way.”
In response to the question about any current trends and new resources or concepts that would be particularly useful in growing a business, Walter articulates, “Being in the technology consulting industry we get asked this question a lot. Everyone wants to know what the latest and greatest technology is that they should be using. Our advice is to stop thinking about technology and start thinking about what will empower your people.
A good example is PowerPoint. The business world is obsessed with PowerPoint slides. But WHY? Research shows that PowerPoint is ineffective at disseminating information yet we can’t get businesses to stop requiring it for every meeting. You are much better served with a whiteboard and marker!
Ok, getting off my soapbox now. But the trend is technology minimalism. Technology should be seamless; it should fit naturally into your business flow. It should take what you already do well and make it easier. Investigate agile frameworks and bring this into your company so that when you need to scale or evolve you can.”
Tying everything together, he emphasizes, “The single most important thing you can do while you’re in the process of growth is to evolve. Don’t get into the mindset of ‘this is our product’; instead, spend more time on ‘this is who we are’ and create workflow that fits that. Apple is not an iPod company, they are a culture. What kind of culture is your company, who are you?”
Growth can mean a number of things when it comes to the space where you conduct business. When you think of the future of your business, would growth require more space? A better location? More locations? It could mean adding another location, whether you’re building it from the ground up or finding the ideal space that’s move-in ready. It could mean moving operations out of your basement or garage into a physical storefront or office location. It could mean outgrowing your current location and making the move to a larger space that better fits your needs and supports expanded operations. Whatever that may be for you, there are plenty of options to consider.
As far as office space goes, coworking spaces have become popular for SMBs. Similarly, leasing space in a building that has numerous business suites still remains a popular option. This is mainly due to being more affordable and having more flexibility with lease terms, but it’s also nice to be in a community environment with neighboring businesses. Today, there are even office suites available that have additional services tailored to business clients, where tenants have access to resources such as an attractive reception area and receptionist services, all utilities paid, phone system, free parking, mail pick-up, janitorial services, complimentary coffee, use of a conference room, break room facilities, or the option to just have a virtual office instead.
As we get more mobile, our habits are changing and agility has become fundamental to growth. There’s been a shift away from working at home or in coffee shops to designated spaces to conduct business that promotes creativity and the exchange of ideas with others, which has also been shown to increase productivity. As a result, there are more ‘middle of the road’ options for office space that fall between the two extremes of working from home or having a standalone place of business and singlehandedly shouldering all of the costs that come along with it.
Commercial developments in high-traffic, high-visibility locations have also become much more common today for similar reasons. Being a part of a neighborhood of complementary businesses helps generate more traffic and business for everyone.
Developing strategic partnerships within the community or communities in which you do business will contribute greatly to the growth of your business and gives you the opportunity to help others grow theirs at the same time. Do you have a support system in place? If not, you definitely should – the saying “no man is an island” rings true here.
Another way to go about growing is through strategic acquisitions, which is also complementary in nature.
“At No Coast Business Advisors, we come alongside our clients to help develop a growth strategy that works for them,” says Jethro Hopkins with No Coast Business Advisors. “Primarily, we assist our clients with their expansion efforts through strategic acquisition. In certain instances it may make more sense for you to purchase a business that complements your current one, allowing you to diversify and expand your market share.
This might even be in a neighboring market, as strategic growth is no longer limited to local availability. When you’ve reached the point where you’re no longer looking for customers locally, strategic acquisition in other markets is an extremely viable alternative to building up your existing operations. Upward trends all point to the fact that the opportunity is there.
Do be aware of the changes to the tax code in 2018 that affect how acquisitions can be done, because what you think you know from past experience or research may no longer be the case. Or, if you’re considering an SBA avenue of funding, they have changed their standards, so definitely schedule a time to sit down with your banker or intermediary to discuss what’s recently been implemented.
Whatever the situation, to best handle any matters related to the growth of your business, rely on your team of experts to advise and guide you through uncharted territory. This way you can discuss your specific scenario and how something applies to you, not just in general. Consult with them early and often to ensure you stay on the right track and nothing major catches you off-guard.”
Also on the topic of strategic growth, he further advises, “We can also help our clients to identify avenues of marketing to bring in more clients and other ways to generate more business.
Technology has made the market increasingly more diverse and far-reaching. In turn, our ability to handle having clients and operations in multiple states is getting easier. With respect to my business, the ability to search for buyers for my clients’ businesses nationwide instead of just locally is improving as technology advances, which is at a rapid pace. This applies almost across the board to any business.
As was previously mentioned, be sure to utilize the technology that’s available to you as you put the work in to grow your business. Even something as simple as shipping to clients, opening an online storefront, using video conferencing to do business with clients – there’s a lot of organic growth opportunity. That said, don’t underestimate the importance of face-to-face interaction and customer service when you do grow using technology.
Many times when a growth campaign is implemented, the costs exceed what was originally budgeted. Expect that going in and plan a cushion accordingly in order to avoid launching your initiative and then being undercapitalized.
If you’re unable to take advantage of the opportunities that are generated by your investment, there’s no point in putting yourself in that position. It could actually end up doing more harm than good if you’re not prepared to handle the growth in a way that doesn’t detract from your brand or compromise it.
Many owners of SMBs are already in uncharted territory and don’t have the experience to handle a growth spurt gracefully. Having the resources available to act when it’s necessary goes a long way in supporting positive outcomes as you navigate the learning curve that comes along with growth.
For the same reason, when you’re in growth mode, strategic partnerships will help you a lot. By forming alliances, you can help each other – we can all do more together than we can alone and each has our own experiences to share.”
So, the final question is: What is it that you need to facilitate the growth of your business or organization? Finding the answer, whether it’s simple or complex, is critical to connecting to the resources that can help you make it happen. Then, once you’ve identified them, be sure to use them to your advantage!