Creative growth strategies for today’s small businesses

Somewhere, there’s a giant box stuffed with crusty old business ideas that don’t work anymore. As 21st-century business owners, you’re supposed to “think outside” that box because not every small business fits neatly into a traditional mold. In these times of side hustles, social influencers, digital nomads, and YouTube stars, the business models succeeding today cut their own paths through the cyber wilderness of modern marketplaces!

As this trend continues, new business patterns emerge to replace the stodgy old ones. And even more unique approaches still await discovery! That’s why we suggest adding the art of divergent thinking to your growth strategy toolkit.

As MasterClass puts it, divergent thinking is simply “a method of problem-solving that uses an open-ended, creative, free-form approach to explore different possible solutions.” Instead of reaching into that dusty old box for ideas, consider brainstorming and free association to unearth shiny new ones!

To help you get started, here are a few non-traditional ways to extend your business’ reach and light a fire under your customer base.

Divergent idea #1: offering micro-services

Do the services you offer tend to carry high price tags? If so, maybe you can lower the bar for entry into your customer pool. Try breaking things into affordable micro-services, abbreviated versions of what you typically provide. This will give potential customers a chance to test the waters before diving in.

For example—if you’re an attorney, put yourself in the client’s shoes. They might not want to put all their eggs in one basket without asking a few questions first. Consider offering short, discounted consultations for generalized questions.

Some of these consults may land you full-fledged clients that you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten. Then again, you could discover that booking a ton of consults can be pretty lucrative and less stressful than larger cases!

Pro Tip: Speaking of lawyers, did you know that, due to daily distractions and competing priorities, American lawyers report billing just 2.5 hours per day on average? But by outsourcing client communications to Ruby, you can potentially double your billable hours per day! 

Divergent idea #2: go green.

Consumers increasingly care about the values of the brands they do business with. They want to give their hard-earned dollars to companies doing what they perceive to be good things.

For instance, “75% of Millennials are eco-conscious to the point of changing their buying habits to favor environmentally-friendly products,” NASDAQ writes. So, if your target audience happens to be eco-friendly, look for ways to shrink your business’s carbon footprint. Go green and be more sustainable.

As far as divergent thinking goes, sure, green marketing has been popular for a while now. It’s not that radical, and there’s no shortage of existing strategies out there. You won’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you should explore creative new ideas, too. Be original!

Whatever you come up with, be sure to incorporate your new green status into your marketing materials and client communications. Otherwise, they might not know or notice.

Divergent idea #3: strategic partnerships

Batman and Robin. 

Lennon and McCartney. 

Woody and Buzz. 

Teaming up for a dynamic duo has long been a blueprint for success. For businesses, it can pay huge dividends, too! Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recommends that small businesses try cross-promotions, so this is not a new-fangled concept. 

But the divergent thinking part kicks in when determining who to team up with! Who compliments your business’s strengths or adds value in an area that may be deficient? Who can you tag for a team-up that’ll attract previously uninterested consumers? 

Many companies have found success through cause marketing, i.e., a for-profit business partnering with a nonprofit. Others have struck gold via influencer marketing, collaborating with popular social media figures who can tout your brand for a few ducats thrown their way. 

If a full partnership isn’t in the cards, consider temporarily offering free products or services to community organizations, perhaps for special occasions. For example, offering to paint a fence for a nonprofit before an upcoming event or giving pro bono tax tips to low-income members of a local group during tax season.

Pro Tip: Give very careful thought about who you ally with and consider any potential downsides. Equally important is how you go about demonstrating your new alliance. You don’t want to do more harm than good (as in the case of Apple’s poor decision to automatically download U2’s album to everyone’s iTunes library without permission).

A Modern Approach That Actually Works

Ruby has long recognized that small business owners struggle because they get stuck in a rut. They keep pulling bad ideas from an antiquated box, making the same tired old mistakes that cause 65% of businesses to collapse within ten years of opening!

That’s why Ruby—through a bit of divergent thinking ourselves—launched our outsourced virtual receptionist solutions! Our high-speed teams are trained and ready to provide superior 24/7 customer service at any level you need.

Check out our case studies to see how we’ve successfully helped scale thousands of modern businesses in virtually every industry. To learn more, reach out to Ruby and start finally achieving your business goals today!