Top 8 Tips For Small Businesses
Small businesses are crucial to their local communities for a number of reasons.
They create more jobs and opportunities. They invest more into the community through paychecks and taxes. Not to mention, small businesses simply create stronger ties between people within a given locale.
However, gaining momentum and maintaining success as a small business is easier said than done. Without the right tools and focus, it can be easy to feel stuck or discouraged. In this blog, we list 10 key steps you can take to give your small business a boost – whether you are just starting out or need to re-energize your business strategy.
Tip #1: Create a Strong Business Plan
Your business plan acts as your roadmap as you navigate each stage of launching and managing your small business. It describes your business intentions and structure, takes a deep dive into your specific industry, outlines funding needs and financial projections, and more.
It may be tempting to breeze through the process of writing out your business plan. However, taking the time to create a detailed, research-backed business plan in the beginning will save you lots of time and stress down the road.
Before you put your business plan down on paper, spend time conducting quality research. Look into things like…
- Industry trends
- Competitor techniques
- Target customer demographics and preferences
- Marketing and sales methods
- And upfront financial costs
Spend time thinking about the scalability of your business. Where will you be in 1 year? 5 years? 20 years? And what will you need in order to get there?
After doing your research, create a well-organized plan. The more details you include in your business plan about how you intend to run (and grow) your business, the more confident investors will feel and the easier it will be to hit the ground running.
Already been in business for some time? Look back over your business plan. It is a living, breathing document that you can revisit and modify from time to time as your goals and the market change.
Tip #2: Know Your Target Market
As mentioned above, it’s critical to develop a strong sense of WHO your customers will be. Your target market dictates everything about your business – from your products to your marketing strategy.
For small businesses, it is generally a good idea to keep a narrow focus when defining your target market. Although your personal intuition about your target customers may be a good place to start, try to seek out data that backs up your thoughts.
Once you’ve been in business for a couple of years, you may be able to gather and analyze data that paints a more detailed picture of YOUR specific customers. The amount of information you have at your disposal will depend on the nature of your business and how your customers connect with you.
You can find these insights in numerous places online, ranging from social media platforms to your Google Analytics account.
Tip #3: Stay on Top of Your Finances
As a small business-owner, you should always be keeping a close eye on your money – where it is going and where it is coming from.
Think creatively about ways to minimize costs while maintaining quality products and services. Analyze which products and services bring you the most profit, and focus your attention and future efforts on expanding and adding upon those.
It’s also important that you adopt a forward-thinking approach to your financial planning. Once you start getting a steady stream of customers, make sure you regularly set aside money as an investment in the future growth of your business. Pay off your business loans and credit cards debts promptly to keep your business credit score up in case you need to take out another loan down the road.
Tip #4: Prioritize Customer Service
You could offer the most amazing product and service. However, if your customer service isn’t up to snuff, you can expect to lose some potential customers. Just think about it…How many times have you chosen NOT to go to a certain restaurant or do business with a certain technician because of a few bad reviews of the customer service?
Giving your customers genuine care and attention is one of the most effective ways to develop a positive reputation – especially as a small business.
Set clear customer service expectations with your employees and hold them accountable to it. If a customer approaches you with a concern or complaint – whether in-person or online – respond promptly and courteously.
Even better, try to come up with a few ways to encourage customer loyalty. Offer discounts and giveaways to keep them coming back. Incentivize your employees with rewards programs if they go above and beyond with customer interactions.
Tip #5: Invest in Your Online Presence
Whether you have a physical storefront or not, you are going to need to focus a little time and energy on your digital storefront as well. That means developing a professional, easy-to-use website, investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and engaging with your customers on social media.
Your customers expect to be able to find you online with a quick Google search. Without a strong online presence, your customers simply won’t be able to find you.
Tip #6: Build a Network
Small local businesses thrive when they are part of a larger community. By networking with other businesses in your area or within your industry, you open yourself up to more opportunities to collaborate and extend your reach to more potential customers.
Many small businesses have discovered the benefit of strategic partnerships and collaborative events. A lot of times, these joint efforts create a win-win situation – bringing both businesses more customers in one fell swoop.
Get connected with a business networking group related to your industry or intended to connect business owners within a certain locale or minority group.
Even if you own a 100% online business, you can still build online communities through platforms like LinkedIn or develop partnerships or associations with other businesses.
Tip #7: Hire the Right People
As a small business, odds are that you aren’t going to hire too many people. Therefore, you’re going to need employees that are “on the bus” and dedicated to your company mission. Your business will thrive if it is backed by a team of skilled people who are motivated to do a good job. It is far more important that your employees come in with traits like coachability, dedication, and a strong work ethic than any amount of specific industry experience.
Then, once you have a quality group of people, you can always train them in the specific areas you need their help.
Tip #8: Be Adaptable
Last but not least, be flexible. The business environment is always changing – as are your customers’ preferences.
Pay attention to your target customers, their pain points, and what excites them. Keep up with new technology used within your industry. Don’t be afraid to alter your business model or management practices. And respond to market changes calmly, without acting too quickly and making rash decisions.
Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional Entrepreneur & Business HUB – Providing Support for Small Businesses
The team here at Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional Entrepreneur & Business HUB is proud to be able to provide critical support for local entrepreneurs. We believe small business success is critical for the growth of our community.
We offer a wide range of services for small businesses, including…
- Specialized Certifications
- Financial Assistance
- Bonding Assistance
- Capital Access Support
- Business Development
- Contracting & Procurement Support
- Technology Access
- Marketing Support
- Maker Space