The past few years have been transformational for businesses — and if you’ve fared well in the disruption of the 2020s so far, it may be time to set larger business goals.

1. Start with a Winning Strategy

2. Conduct Market Research to Weigh Your Options

3. Set Goals and Create Your Plan

4. Expand or Rebrand Your Web Presence

5. Direct Readers to Your Email List

6. Boost Your Social Media Presence

7. Keep Your Loyal Customers Close

8. Attract and Retain the Right Talent

9. Embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Boost Productivity

10. Seek out Financial Solutions That Meet Your Needs

11. Find Partners Who Can Accelerate Your Growth


Perhaps you’ve seen your revenue and profits climb with new consumer demands, and you’re ready to accelerate your results by designing a focused campaign to grow your business. Or maybe your industry is shifting, creating room for smaller disruptors to steal market share, and you're ready to make your move.

Whatever your circumstances, developing a strategy for growth — and taking the right actions at the right time — can propel your business forward and put you on track to grow. Read on for 11 tips and strategies to grow your small business, from setting effective goals to assembling the team that will help your business thrive.

1. Start with a Winning Strategy

Any successful expansion starts with careful planning, so it's important to focus on strategy at the beginning of your business journey.

Having a strategy in place allows you to move intentionally as you grow your business, setting goals and making data-driven decisions that help you achieve your objectives. It also gives you an opportunity to identify — and plan around — the roadblocks you might face, so they’re less likely to throw your plans off track.

Begin crafting your strategy by getting to know the four models of business growth. The Product/Market Expansion Grid, also called the Ansoff Matrix,[1] is a tool that many businesses use to evaluate their options:


The Product/Market Expansion Grid

Market Penetration

Increasing sales of existing products within your existing market.


  • An eyeglass retailer launches a marketing campaign to sell more units and introduces a rewards program to encourage repeat business

Product Development

Introducing new products within your existing markets.


  • A cookware company expands their offerings by introducing a smaller size of their best-selling pan.

Market Development

Increasing sales of existing products by expanding into new markets


  • An online retailer decides to expand their business internationally by listing their items on global marketplaces, like Amazon.


Offering new products to consumers in new markets.


  • A leather handbag manufacturer decides to expand their offerings into leather footwear.


The risks involved in each strategy increase as you move toward the bottom right of the matrix. Market penetration poses the least risk, since you’re working with products with a track record of success and markets you’re already familiar with. Diversification, on the other hand, is the riskiest endeavor, since you’ll need to invest in both product and market development.

But taking risks can also pay off. Successfully breaking into new markets and/or launching successful new products can unlock significant revenue opportunities that you may not have been able to achieve through market penetration.

Ultimately, you’ll need to reflect on your business goals, as well as your risk tolerance, to narrow down the approach most appropriate for you.

2. Conduct Market Research to Weigh Your Options

Survey your customers -

Your loyal customers can tell you what you’re already doing well, and how they’d like to see you grow. Consider reaching out to email subscribers with a brief survey, or quizzing followers on social media. If you’re developing new markets, reach out to ideal customers within that market to learn more about how your offerings could compete.

Scope out the competition -

Look into how your competitors have expanded in recent years — and how their strategies have fared. Take note of how you differ from your direct competitors in the market. You may find you have opportunities to grow by competing on pricing, for instance, or identifying a gap in the market that you could fill with a new product.

Take a larger-scale view -

Consider the overall trajectory of your industry as a whole. If your sector is struggling, for instance, it may be worth the risk to develop new markets or diversify your offerings.

3. Set Goals and Create Your Plan

With your research completed, you should now have a sense of the most appropriate model for business growth. Use this strategy as a compass to create specific, measurable, and actionable goals for your business: the concrete steps you’ll take to grow, as well as how you will measure success.

As you do so, take an honest look at the risks you’ll shoulder along the way. Consider how factors outside your control, such as economic uncertainty or supply chain disruptions, might impact your plans, and brainstorm ways to mitigate these risks. This helps ensure you have contingency plans in place to minimize these challenges if they arise.

4. Expand or Rebrand Your Web Presence

Once you’ve gathered the insights you need to set goals to grow your small business, set your sights on connecting with new prospects and customers online.

Even if you already have a brand website, you may need to make some adjustments as you grow your business. Serving more customers means attracting more website traffic, and you need to ensure your site can handle the load. Each second of loading time reduces your site’s conversion rate by nearly 5%, so work with your host, and potentially a web developer, to help ensure your page loads as quickly as possible. Ideally, pages should load within 2 seconds to maximize conversions.[2]

Now’s also the time to revisit your website imagery and copy to support your new business objectives, especially if you’re moving into new markets or introducing new products. Invest in new product photography, if you need to, and consider setting up a micro-site focused on your new product or your marquee product as a complement to your main site.

If you're planning to enter a new market, revisit your website copy to ensure it reflects your new goals and resonates with your new target audience. Slang and jargon may not resonate with customers across cultures, so it may be worthwhile to create region-specific websites tailored to your global customer base.

5. Direct Readers to Your Email List

Once you have the basics covered, look for opportunities to leverage your website and grow your email list. If you keep in touch via email, it allows you to build relationships while customers weigh their options — and keeps your brand top of mind when they’re ready to purchase.

Consider using a pop-up call-to-action (CTA) to encourage readers to subscribe, and offer a helpful lead magnet — such as an ebook or white paper — or an exclusive discount code to boost conversions. From there, keep subscribers engaged with sneak peeks into future offerings, exclusive discounts, and early access to promotions.

6. Boost Your Social Media Presence

Social media should be central to your marketing strategy, particularly if you’re looking to attract younger customers. Nearly all Gen Z consumers (97%) now say they look to social media as their top source of shopping inspiration,[3] and roughly half of Americans aged 18 to 34 have made a purchase via social media.[4]

As you lay the groundwork for growth, the typical best practices for social media marketing still apply, so make sure you’re striking an appropriate balance between informational and promotional content. However, you may need to adjust your social media strategy to suit your new business goals.

Lay the groundwork for success with consistent branding -

A push for growth is the ideal time to revisit your social media presence and ensure your branding aligns with your growth plan. Update your profile avatars and headers if you need to, using similar imagery across platforms to create a consistent experience.

If you’re moving onto a new social media platform, familiarize yourself with platform-specific best practices, and announce your new account on your existing social media profiles to quickly cultivate a following.

Post the right mix of content to drive growth -

You already know the type of content your audience loves. But as you grow, keep in mind that you’ll be reaching those new to your brand and your products, so look for ways to make a warm first impression.

Many shoppers, particularly Gen Z, want to shop with brands that embrace corporate responsibility and share their core values.[5] So consider highlighting your commitment to social issues on social media, sharing behind-the-scenes peeks into how your business effects positive change. Similarly, consider posting videos that tell your brand story to build trust with your new audience.

As you’re expanding, consider placing a heavier emphasis on informational posts that boost brand and product awareness. Create an editorial calendar to support key promotions and launches, with product demonstrations and tutorials that help shoppers weigh their purchasing decisions.

Invest in social media marketing to find new customers -

Ramping up your social media presence will help you connect with customers organically, but you can accelerate your results with marketing. Even if you’re on a budget, you’ve got plenty of options to raise awareness of your brand, including:

  • Influencer marketing: Reaching out to micro-influencers – those with 10,000 followers or less – to showcase your offerings to their following.
  • User-generated content (UGC) marketing: Hiring UGC creators to create authentic content featuring your products – for example, product reviews or tutorials – which you can then post on your profiles.
  • Placing targeted ads:Turn your most helpful and most-loved content into ads that allow readers to click through to product pages, or even make purchases in the app.

Measure your results from each social media marketing strategy to identify what works best for your audience, so you can fine-tune your marketing as you go to maximize ROI.

7. Keep Your Loyal Customers Close

Of course, your core customer base remains the lifeblood of the business as you grow, so look for ways to reward your most loyal customers. Fostering greater loyalty can, in itself, drive business growth, since boosting customer retention by just 5% can yield up to 95% more profits.[6]

Consider implementing a loyalty program that allows customers to earn points or rewards from their purchases. When done well, businesses can generate up to 25% more revenue from these loyal customers each year, since rewards encourage consumers to shop more frequently and make bigger purchases.[7]

Look for other ways to deepen relationships with existing customers, too. Consider offering a birthday bonus — such as a small gift or exclusive discount code — and offer email subscribers exclusive discount codes or early access to promotions.

Finally, consider sending personalized emails to thank your loyal customers for their support. This small gesture allows you to showcase your gratitude and appreciation, so your customers feel valued as you continue on your journey.

8. Attract and Retain the Right Talent

As you prepare for an influx of customers, now’s the time to look inward at your business operations and look for ways to maximize your productivity. Even the most well-planned expansion places new pressures on you and your team, and taking the time to reflect on your operations now can help ensure you have the resources you need to meet customer demand.

Having the right team is critical to growing with success, and it’s best to start assembling your dream team as early as possible. Starting early is especially important if you need specialized expertise or you’re in a highly competitive industry — such as manufacturing, financial services or health services — where the average time to fill a position can span 30 days or more.[8]

Launch your talent search by taking an inventory of the skills you already have within your team, and the gaps you’re looking for new hires to fill. In some cases, you may find you simply need more people with skill sets already on your team — for example, a hire or two to expand your sales or customer service teams. In other cases, you may need to seek out talent that can bring new skills to your organization, especially if you’re expanding into new markets.

Create effective job postings by focusing on must-have skills -

When you're growing your business, each hire has a significant impact on your ability to reach your goals. And while you may have a long list of skills, qualities, and attributes in mind for your ideal hire, otherwise qualified talent might self-select out of your candidate search if they don't check all your boxes.

You're more likely to find the talent you need by narrowing your focus to the true essentials: the core skills talent absolutely must have to hit the ground running. Remember, you can help top talent develop those "nice to have" skills on the job, once you've assembled your team.

Consider bringing in contractors -

In today’s highly competitive labor market, small businesses sometimes struggle to compete on salary or benefits for talent. Hiring independent contractors for temporary positions can help you find the skill sets you need on a budget. Plus, independent contractors allow you to scale your workforce up and down as you need to, so you can stay agile as your business grows.

Keep an eye on diversity -

Diverse teams tend to outperform their less diverse competitors,[9] so take this opportunity to seek out talent from all walks of life. In addition to asking employees for referrals, find applicants by leveraging a range of job boards, including those that serve women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and talent from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.

9. Embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Boost Productivity

Once you’ve assembled the talent you need, invest in innovation that helps each team member work to their full potential. In an age of remote and hybrid work, technology that facilitates collaboration is more important than ever, and advances in AI can allow you to outsource tedious tasks to technology, so your team can focus on higher-impact and more meaningful work.

Deploy chatbots to drive sales and automate customer service -

The first challenge you’ll face as you grow is an increase in queries from prospects, leads, and customers. Your team needs to be ready to handle queries as they come in, so you can move prospects through the sales cycle, as well as provide quick and easy customer support. Excellent customer service is imperative to your success: nearly three-quarters of customers said just three experiences would stop them from using a brand again.[10]

Chatbots can help. AI-driven chatbots can answer simple customer questions, and point website visitors to the information they need to make purchasing decisions. Chatbots can also automate customer service, collecting customer data and resolving simple queries, so your support team can focus on queries that require higher-level care.

Leverage automation to optimize manufacturing -

Finally, look for opportunities to improve productivity by automating the manufacturing process. Automation can help you identify inefficiencies to streamline work flows, so you can more easily keep up with demand as you grow. Plus, it can provide valuable insight into your operations and processes, so you can make data-driven decisions as you scale – and model how different decisions might impact your business growth.

10. Seek out Financial Solutions That Meet Your Needs

Staying on top of your finances is important at every stage of your business. But it’s especially important as you grow. Not only is growth sometimes capital-intensive, but selling in higher volumes can magnify any existing issues with your cash flow management, so putting cash management front and center can help you manage your risks.

Secure financing, if you need it -

As you map out the resources it will take to grow, consider whether you need to augment your cash on hand via financing. Lenders can provide a cash buffer to help you manage your cash flow as you grow, as well as help you cover the upfront investment in real estate, supplies, or equipment to expand.

Find a lender that helps you understand your options, whether you’re looking for a secured or unsecured loan or a line of credit. Look for flexible lending options that meet your needs — for example, the ability to choose the repayment term for your loan — as well as the ability to repay your loan through convenient automatic payments.

Look for innovative payment solutions -

Payment solutions can play a key role in both attracting new customers and managing your cash flow as you grow. Today’s customers demand flexible payment options, including the ability to make purchases directly via social media. Finding the right financial partner can help you stay ahead of the curve on payment solutions, so you can accept trending payment methods like digital wallets, and allow your customers to pay how they want.

The right partner should also allow you to process payments quickly and efficiently. Being able to access your money faster can improve your cash flow, so you can more easily stay on top of your finances as you grow.

11. Find Partners Who Can Accelerate Your Growth

Running a small business usually means wearing many hats, from Chief Marketing Officer to Director of Human Resources. But that doesn’t mean it’s a solo effort, and finding the right partners can prove crucial for business growth.

Trusted partners can provide specialized expertise as you develop and execute your growth strategy, augmenting the skills and expertise already available on your team. They can also offer deep industry-specific expertise, with insights to help inform your path forward. Finally, partners can help you address — and overcome — the challenges on your path to success.

PNC Offers Financial Partnerships You Can Trust

From providing innovative financial solutions to trusted expertise, our dedicated small business banking team can provide personalized service tailored to your business’ unique needs.

We can help you:

  • Bank online, from anywhere with online and mobile business banking accounts.
  • Find the financing you need with a range of lending options, from credit cards to small business loans and lines of credit.
  • Send and receive payments quickly with a comprehensive range of eCommerce and in-person payment processing solutions, including the ability to accept payments via social media and online marketplaces.
  • Manage your cash flow with solutions that help you analyze your business performance, scenario-plan your short- and long-term plans, and track transactions in real-time.
  • Move your business forward with insights into small business trends, plus actionable tips to help you manage your business finances.

Learn more about our small business solutions, or get in touch with a representative to discuss how we can help you reach your goals.