Growing Your Business in Omaha, Nebraska
“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.
As this is certainly not an endeavor that can be approached with a one-size-fits-all mentality due to this variance, it’s important to understand that what needs to be done to realize growth (and to grow at manageable pace while not sacrificing the quality of your core offerings) will look different from business to business.
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. 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.
There are undoubtedly many factors that will contribute to a successful growth strategy, and we’ll be touching on what we consider to be among the most important.
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 customers 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. “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 mentioned, 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.
Although social media is truly a force in today’s marketing landscape, your website will still very likely be at the heart of your online presence as an extension of who you are and what you do. As such, it should be something that speaks well on your behalf, with engaging features and content while also providing practical information. With the prime opportunity to visually appeal to current and potential customers, tools such as providing a virtual tour of your business itself can really help to make the introduction, allowing people to feel comfortable that they know what to expect before they even walk through the doors.
“Google statistics show that people who view business interiors online are more likely to go to that business,” advises Lori Black of MIT Images 360. “Customers now want to know what a business looks like before they get there; if they see appeal of a business interior online, they are more likely to actually go there. Taking the idea of providing images one step further, MIT Images 360 delivers crisp, interactive 360-degree virtual tours of a business’s interior. The virtual tours are offered through Google Streetview technology, and our professionals are independent photographers authorized by Google to shoot business interior virtual tours. These tours, which can be done quickly and affordably, are published on Google search and maps pages and are can also be placed on websites and social media as well. Businesses that hire photographers to shoot a virtual tour will find it will increase customer confidence and trust in their business because people are able to see the business interior before they arrive. Google statistics also show that businesses with the virtual tour will find their web visits to the business higher along with the increased foot traffic. The tours assist with search engine optimization as well.
I find that while many businesses are eager to add a Google Streetview interior virtual tour to their online marketing presence, some still don’t quite get it. This technology is still young, having been around just a few years. But I honestly believe in time consumers are going to expect and demand businesses have a virtual tour of their interior online. The current trend is toward doing an online tour, and businesses that ignore this trend will find themselves behind the times.
What this all really boils down to is that in order to grow your business, people have to know about your business, and that requires marketing. Marketing today is moving more and more to the online variety. People are advertising on Facebook, on Google and on other websites. Because online is where people are today, marketing your business online is one of the best ways to get it before the public. Whenever you are looking at a marketing budget, consider a mix of the traditional advertising such as print and broadcast time along with online advertising.”
She adds, “In addition to establishing your online presence, be prepared for the continuing need to improve upon it as new trends emerge. This will require work to ensure that a company practices good SEO habits so it is more searchable to the public. It is important to get a business up and running on Google My Business and set up that Google Plus page. Once you have that page, regularly post to it. You may think that no one is looking at your Google Plus page but Google is. It will reward companies that have an effective and updated Google Plus page. Once you get your virtual tour, plaster it across Google Plus and your social media channels. Get it out to the public and let people know you are proud of your business interior.”
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, Karla Keegan, Branch Manager at Manpower replies, “People, creativity and branding! 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. Never 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.
As the world leader in innovative workforce solutions for over 60 years, our team at Manpower has helped clients everywhere find talent that fits their needs and goals. In fact, Manpower is currently in 82 countries, with 400 offices in North America alone, so our company has experienced growth firsthand. We pride ourselves on being an advisor and coach to our clients; we are only able to succeed when our clients succeed. To find the best match we meet our clients face to face, determine their current situation, and then identify the desired outcome and strategize on how we can help them. We are all about discussing options and solutions, and then follow up with statistics, data, concepts and brainstorm together to determine the right solution for the goal in mind. We look at economic development, turnover, hiring trends, risks, locations, competition, cycle of business and their own decision making processes. Essentially, our focus is to identify strengths and uncover opportunities to best serve our clients and fulfill our mission, which in part is to make the experience easier and more comfortable for those that we serve.
Our team at Manpower is able to provide valuable information that will greatly help with decision making, including market trends, wage analysis, quarterly business reviews, marketing campaigns, strategic sourcing, and risk management. We pride ourselves on our diversity and inclusion engagement strategies along with retention solutions and designs. From conception to implementation, we are able to provide invoicing, payroll, online testing centers, webinars for HR Credits and benefits to everyone that use our services so our clients can focus on growth and leadership within their organization. Talent within an organization is doing one of two things: either saving money or making money. We hold the unique privilege of being able to provide both sides of that coin to our clients.”
She concludes, “For optimal growth, you’ll need to take into consideration economic trends, competition and value of your employees. You’ll also want to consistently review your training process and growth model to ensure that it remains relevant and up-to-date so that you’re achieving your goals.
But above all as it relates to their people, employers should continue to monitor and adjust their workforce in order to best meet business and client demands. According to a recent study by our Right Management brand, up to 50 percent of people are in the wrong role – meaning their skills and aptitudes do not align with what they’re being asked to do. For that reason, career assessments are a great place to start, because they help give people a sense of where their strengths lie and where they are likely to be successful. Finding employees and talent is what Manpower does. We source, recruit, screen, interview, and place candidates every day. Let us help you with your start up, merger/acquisition, restructure, growth or redeployment of your workforce today! We can be reached at (402) 397-5455 or you are welcome to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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. Technology is being implemented to reduce the amount of time between inspections and the receipt of required certificates. 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. “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 with your new office itself 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 OffiCenters and HIP Realty). “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 our company has gone through many business changes and expansions. With each of these opportunities our staff has undergone its own evaluations in order to maintain the star-quality service we continue to strive for every day. 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.”
Change is indeed a part of the evolution of a business, particularly as it grows. Insurance coverage is one of those key things that must be updated as you grow in order to ensure that your business is protected and won’t experience any major setbacks along the way. Your insurance agent is a huge asset to the growth of your business. By establishing a relationship you’ll be working with someone who is almost as familiar with your business as you are–they’ll be able to advise you on what’s changing in their industry and how it may affect your business, keep your coverage in line with the current state of your business as it grows, and ask you the right questions to find any red flags as to the things you may be overlooking.
“Business owners should review their insurance policies regularly, particularly if they are experiencing growth,” says Diva Mejias of M&M Insurance Associates. As far as what could potentially have the most impact on a business as it grows, she advises to consider the following:
• Do you have coverage in the event of death or disability, and if so have you recently evaluated that coverage? If an owner or key person gets injured or dies, the business could suffer a tremendous loss, impeding growth and oftentimes forcing regression.
• Has your staff increased? Based on your current payroll you may need to adjust your worker’s compensation insurance.
• Are the business assets adequately covered? Did you buy a piece of equipment or make a large capital asset purchase that isn’t yet included in your current policy?
• Are you aware of how the Affordable Health Care Act affects your business? Do you have mandatory requirements? Is it time to research group health plans?
Another aspect of insurance is auto coverage for those who have fleets or employees are driving vehicles on the job, so you’ll also want to ensure that you regularly assess that as well. Furthermore, with the growth of a team that’s mobile, certain management practices must also be examined. “Fleet management is effective in helping businesses cut costs and effectively manage their vehicles,” explains Chad Harmening, owner of Now You Know Fleet Management. “Today’s GPS devices have wide-ranging applications and we can leverage its use to help clients run their businesses more efficiently. Our focus is offering simple yet powerful tools to monitor vehicle activities on-the-go. With the use of accompanying web-based software you can track your vehicles in a real-time environment and communicate with them remotely. We have an app our clients can download, giving them the ability to manage their fleets right from their smartphones. There are a plethora of things you can do such as monitor real-time vehicle location, manage excess speed & idling, improve driver behavior and keep track of vehicle maintenance. With the help of NYK Fleet Management’s cutting-edge GPS tracking equipment and software, not only can you save on fuel, but also increase employee productivity and enhance employee utilization.”
Expanding your clientele and reaching new markets is also a key part of growth, and in addition to an effective marketing strategy, there are other tools you can employ meet this objective. According to an article published by the Nebraska Business Development Center entitled “Growing Your Business by Selling to the Government, written by Roger Johnson, a Certified Contracting Assistance Specialist:
“Are you looking for new markets for your small business? Consider expanding sales opportunities through government contracting. Federal agencies have goals to award contracts to small businesses and other social-economic groups. State, county, city, town and village government agencies are also potential markets for commercial businesses to sell their products and services. Sometimes it is easier to get started in smaller government markets before entering the Federal marketplace. If you’re already selling to some government agencies, perhaps you can expand to sell to others too.
On making the process less daunting, he advises:
“The Federal government knows that small businesses bring value to their procurement but they may need technical assistance to navigate some of the rules and regulations required for bidding, completing works, and getting paid. This can be daunting, especially for a small business without excess staff to devote to this task. Therefore, the Defense Logistics Agency funds the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) program across the country to provide basic government contracting consulting at no charge to the business owner. In Nebraska, the program is a part of the services offered by the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC).
According to statistics provided in the article, there is a lot of opportunity for small businesses. In fact, 23% of all prime contracts are set aside for small business. As with any market research, the more you know the better prepared you’ll be. The website at FBO.gov will allow you to search what the government has previously purchased and what the government is currently announcing to purchase. You can also do research on the USASpending.gov and FPDS.gov websites to determine what government agency has bought your same product/service and what business won the contract. Johnson also notes in his article, “In addition, you can search for specific Agency Forecasts to see what the agencies are expecting to buy in the future. Knowing what agencies are planning to purchase helps you formulate a plan to get to know those program managers and sell your goods or services based upon their needs.”
Finally, with the growth of a business you’ll have more money going out, and of course, hopefully coming back in! Your accountant, payroll and benefits provider, and payment processing company will all play central roles as you go through periods of growth, so you’ll want to make sure you are working alongside those with extensive experience in assisting growing businesses and who are at the pulse of their respective industries as well.
Within the Omaha Metro 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. As a business’s growth strategy is often complex by both design and necessity, it’s quite easy to not see the forest for the trees so to speak. 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.