The secrets of growing businesses: How they’re finding success
Most businesses have experienced pressure from inflation, rising prices, and the economy. Yet some small businesses have been able to meet these challenges head-on and keep growing at a high rate. Studying the keys to success for growing small businesses can provide you with a roadmap for facing today’s business challenges.
Economic uncertainty puts pressure on business owners.
According to Truist’s 2023 survey of 518 small business owners (Truist's 2023 Small Business Survey), small business owners are feeling pressure—35% of small business owners surveyed say they’re worried about inflation and rising costs, while 26% cite economic uncertainty as a top concern.1
“A terrific way for small business owners to gather best practices and effective ideas is to look at what other successful companies have done,” says Scott Stearsman, head of small business for Truist. “We studied growing small businesses in our annual survey, for insights into what works to help businesses grow in an uncertain economy.”
How growing companies are different
By looking at Truist's 2023 Small Business Survey responses from leaders of businesses with increasing revenue (120 respondents) versus responses from businesses with steady or declining revenue between 2021 and 2022 (398 respondents), a picture of how growing businesses are different emerges.
Leaders at growing small businesses in the Truist's 2023 Small Business Survey say they are feeling more confident about the U.S. economy and the strength of their own businesses. Respondents from growing companies were substantially more likely than survey respondents from companies that weren’t growing to view the U.S. economy positively and much more likely to view their own businesses as strong, giving them a positive edge that sets them apart. They’re confident in their ability to work through today’s challenges—twice as many respondent owners of growing versus non-growing businesses say they are extremely prepared for an unexpected event.
The growing businesses from the Truist's 2023 Small Business Survey are taking actions that distinguish them from those that aren’t growing including:
- Focus on sales - Leaders of growing small businesses spend more time on sales, marketing, and networking than leaders of businesses that aren’t growing. Growing companies were twice as likely as their non-growing peers to invest in sales staff, distribution channels, and new or enhanced products.
- More employee benefits and options - Growing small businesses were 82% more likely than non-growing companies to offer benefits and remote options to attract and retain workers. They were almost three times more likely to have plans to increase options for working remotely.
- Healthy work-life perspective – Growing company owners were also more likely than non-growing companies to see themselves as having good/perfect work-life balance and were twice as likely to regularly seek advice or outside help from others.
- Investing in technology - Growing small businesses are investing in technology that targets and supports their customers. They were 43% more likely than non-growing businesses to adopt or expand technology that supports customer service and communications. And they showed a strong commitment to their website and online presence, social and search-engine marketing, and text and email marketing campaigns.
In addition to investing in staffing and marketing, growing businesses from the Truist's 2023 Small Business Survey took the initiative to improve payments and cash flow—a smart move since interest rate increases have made holding on to cash a more valuable option. Growing businesses were 43% more likely than non-growing businesses to collect accounts receivable faster, and four times more likely to offer customers additional forms of electronic payments.
Growing businesses from the Truist's 2023 Small Business Survey have greater confidence than non-growing companies about their financial well-being, and they feel more prepared for unexpected events such as fraud or information breaches, the loss of a key customer, employee, or supplier, or an external event like a natural disaster or economic downturn. Thinking about unexpected events in advance means considering risks and having a contingency plan in place if needed.
Put these lessons to work for your business.
Despite an uncertain economic outlook, leaders of growing businesses from the Truist's 2023 Small Business Survey hold on to their optimism, embracing change as an opportunity rather than a worry. You can apply this approach to your business.
- Look ahead to opportunities. Changes in the economy often reshuffle competitors and the products and services offered. Invest in your staff or in marketing and sales technology to capture new customers or expand existing ones. Growing companies from the Truist's 2023 Small Business Survey are more likely to focus on acquiring new product lines or distributors.
- Prepare for the risks. While the types and number of risks can feel overwhelming, assess potential threats regularly—don’t let your business be interrupted by a cyber-attack or natural disaster. Have a plan, along with financial reserves and insurance. Put yourself at ease knowing you’re ready for the unexpected.
- Focus on the fundamentals. Uncertain times mean that you should stay focused on core issues such as cash flow, quicker collections, and tight inventories.
- Seek out experienced advisors. Consult knowledgeable professionals willing to lend their expertise or act as a sounding board. Lawyers, bankers, and mentors can provide the help you need to put your company on the right path, joining the ranks of growing businesses.
Embrace the best practices from your growing peers.
Talk to a small business banker at 877-279-3083, schedule time for an in-person or virtual appointment, or visit Truist Small Business to find out how Truist can support you as you grow your business.