No business owner starts their company thinking “I hope this business stays exactly as it is right now, forever.” Entrepreneurs crave growth because they know it’s the only way to really achieve the goals they envisioned from the start. When a small business grows, we refer to it as scaling, and it should be your main priority from the very beginning of your business. These 10 tips can help you get on the right track to major business growth.

Establish Key Relationships

In any industry you care to name, who you know is one of the most important factors for growth. You do need to know what you’re doing and present yourself as an expert. But at the end of the day, connections and networks are what introduce business owners to the deals they need to be making in order to grow. These relationships may be with more successful companies, taste makers and influencers on social media, or industry experts from neighboring niches that compliment your product or service.

Build Your Capital

To make money and grow, you’ve got to have money. Many young entrepreneurs have a “by the bootstraps” attitude about their business, choosing to start their company with their own money and trust that working hard will keep things afloat. But the problem is that keeping afloat isn’t the same thing as growing. There are very few major companies today that grew based on self-funding. Getting outside capital is very important for scaling. You need a financial team, even if that’s just you and your financial advisor, keeping your eyes on expansion possibilities. Check our Free Epic Guide to Raising Capital.

License Your Product

Here’s one way to create some passive revenue, and to start scaling your brand for very little cost. By licensing your branded product, you’ll start receiving payments any time the product, name brand, and so on, is used or sold. It’s a very low-risk task that can help establish you as a leader in your industry, and to build some capital. Just be sure you have a lawyer with you when you license a product. You’ll need to make sure that all your rights, including intellectual property rights, are protected.

Seek Government Contracts

Want the fastest way to scale up your company? Nail a government contract. The government is the largest buyer of services and products in the world, with a buying power that goes well beyond 230 billion dollars every year. If you can comply with all the conditions of working for the government, you can easily grow your business into a much larger and more profitable organization.

Become a Franchise

If opening a new location sounds like a good way to expand your business, consider the growth your brand would see if there were multiple new locations opening. Turning your business into a franchise, which allows people to become owners of their own locations, can help your brand become a recognized authority in an industry. You’ll receive revenue from the franchise locations that open, and you’ll benefit from the growth in brand recognition that you didn’t have to fund on your own.

Get Online

If your business isn’t already operating online, you are missing out on a huge growth opportunity. Once, Bill Gates said that businesses that aren’t online aren’t businesses at all, and these days he’s right. An effective Internet presence is vital for even local stores, because locals are still searching the Internet to find services nearby. Your main traffic source will be search engines, so your SEO strategy is essential. The most important part, however, is not just drawing visitors in, but keeping them around. Your content must therefore be both optimized for an algorithm, but also written in a way that appeals to humans.

Hire Staff

If you’ve been operating your business as a one-man show up till now, it’s time to hire a staff. This is one of the most common ways of scaling a business, because the more help you have, the more work you can take on – and the bigger the company gets. If you can’t afford to hire staff, consider commission-based sales representatives, who can be a stepping stone until you can transition to full time staff with salaries. Just be sure that sales representatives are very well trained to represent your business in a way that aligns with your goals. You can also start with more affordable virtual assistants. We have listed some amazing tips to finding the perfect virtual assistant so you an work on your business not in it.

Build an Effective Sales Funnel

Scaling a business takes two things at the end of the day: more money, and more leads. You can accomplish both with an effective sales funnel, and it has an added bonus as well. When you are able to create a sales funnel that is effective, it runs on autopilot. You can focus on working on your business, rather than in it, because your sales funnel is busy moving customers through the many stages of business-consumer relationships. Not only that, but it also acts as a powerful lead magnet when created correctly.

Use the Word Free

It’s an old marketing trick, but it still works. People love free stuff. Run a contest, a giveaway, or offer free educational or valuable content online. The key is that the free content or services should feel exclusive – a contest means that not everyone will get the free service. Online content should be only available through an email list, for example. This makes your customers feel special with they receive the free content, which sets the stage for brand loyalty. Once you’ve got people enticed with something free, your business will have hundreds or thousands of new leads that are already primed for an exchange.

Put any of these 9 tips into action to start scaling your business today.