Skip to main content

Columbia Business Monthly

It's OK to Want to Grow Your Business

By Ben Pettit

We always say a year is one for the history books, but 2020 is one of the history books. A global pandemic, coupled with a cratered economy, has left people with a downright lousy outlook.

For many business owners, the past few months have been about surviving as every metric, plan and rubric has been altered, thrown away, pulled out of the trash can, and re-altered again. However, what if you are ready to get out of this downturn? What if you want to start growing despite a pandemic? 

You are not alone. Many business people are ready to start growing and prospering again. The NFIB Business Optimism Index was 90.9 in April. It is now 98.8 and expected to inch back above 100 in the next few months. For comparison’s sake, since 1975, this index hovers in the high 90s with an all-time high of 108 and a low of 80.

If you are planning on growing your business right now, it is essential to find ways to do so wisely, not only for yourself but also for your company. 

Assess your company health: Growth will be an uphill battle if your team’s morale is low. Healthy companies start with healthy people. Make sure your people have the resources and tools they need. Reevaluate your processes to eliminate any frustrations for your team and your customers. 

Have a strategy: Business is different right now, but it’s still business. While it may be a few degrees off its axis, there is a constant fact that remains unchanged: people do business with those they like and trust. Find ways to be trustworthy and up your communication with all of your audiences (i.e. clients, shareholders, employees, leaders, community). People buy you before they buy your product. 

Identify your long-term goals: Research conducted by consulting firm CB Insights in the early part of 2020 found that a lack of market demand was the biggest reason that most companies and products failed. Forty-two percent named it. Think about what that means. Companies fail because they don’t know what the markets want. That leaves two solutions: find ways to become a business that predicts market needs and influence or home in on what you are serving to the general public.

Cast a wider net: Many companies have found ways to expand their services in times of Covid-19. That can include tailoring your services to meet a need created by Covid-19 or partnering with companies that are shifting their needs. As a marketing agency, we have worked closely with our clients to pivot their service and product offerings to fit this new landscape. 

Diversify your customer base: Too many businesses get in trouble in a down economy when they have too many sales coming from a handful of clients or one specific industry. The client drops and checks start bouncing. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a deal: This is an excellent opportunity to renegotiate your contracts with vendors, suppliers, landlords, telecoms, etc. Everyone wants to get a deal done, even if it’s below the standard rate. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better price than what you have. Remember to be respectful and courteous while doing so, but it never hurts to ask. 

The thing to remember through all of this is that opportunities to grow are out there. It’s not the time to worry about the future, but to embrace it for your growth. 

Ben Pettit is the founder and CEO of STORY, which offers creative digital solutions to everyday business problems. With a growing team of creative professionals, their work spans from the Southeast to the entire nation. Learn more at