It’s hard to understate how difficult it is to own your own small business, unless you’ve been there before. Your theoretical tool belt has to be fully stocked with a myriad of personal skills including, but not limited to, finance, economics, product/service offerings and more. There are some preparatory measures to take that can help improve your small business success.
Read, ‘8 Tips: How to Advertise Your Restaurant Business’ for marketing tips and tricks every restaurant should know.
1. Have a Clear Roadmap
Would you take a road trip to a new state without a GPS? Unless you’re a free-spirited nomad, probably not. In the same vein, you should know from the start what your business does, how you’ll do it, and how to measure success. Here are some ways you can start drawing your business’ roadmap.
Clear goal setting
Have you ever been to a job interview where they ask you where you see yourself in five years? Yeah, it’s an annoying question. But it’s also a helpful one if you own a business. Stepping back from tedious day-to-day tasks to look at the big picture will help you stay organized on your path. Where do you see your business in five years? Is it expanding to other areas? Is it a staple in the local community? How many employees will you have? Sure, times change and overall objectives may pivot, but striving for a defined goal will help you stay motivated and retain a sense of purpose.
Monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Once you’ve defined what your goals are, get granular and think about what it would take to measure them. If your business is e-commerce, meeting sales goals or achieving notoriety via web traffic/social media followers may be important. If you want to become a community staple, connection-building with other local businesses or local event sponsorships may be more important. Set realistic KPIs and monitor them to adjust your business strategy accordingly.
2. Take Advantage of Free Marketing Tools
If you do not already have a website, you are making a huge mistake. Having a website makes you easily accessible, lets you promote whichever product/service you desire, makes the conversion process easier for potential customers, and allows you to control your messaging. Without a website, you will always be at the mercy of your competitors. Here are some free marketing tools and strategies to keep overhead costs low:
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is the profile/info that appear in Google search results about a specific business. It’s free to create and allows your business to show in Google Maps as well as other relevant searches to your company and services – especially on a local level.
To create a GMB profile, create or log into your business’ Gmail account, go to business.google.com, and enter all relevant business information. Be sure to include:
- Address, phone number, business hours, link to website, and business description (public-facing)
- Photos of interior and exterior of your business, from different angles. This is especially important for brick & mortar stores (public-facing)
- Relevant business category. This is one of the most important parts of your profile. It tells Google what type of business you are, to make you more findable. If you run a construction company, for example, users that search “construction company near me” won’t find your profile if it lists the wrong business category. Google offers hundreds of subcategories as well, so check out a few successful competitor profiles to see what’s working for them.
When creating a GMB, remember that the more info you provide, the better your profile will perform. Users also have the option to make suggested edits, upload their own photos, and leave a review. All of these play major roles in your profile’s visibility, so be sure you’re providing a positive customer experience!
Having an established content strategy isn’t just about building a regular following. It’s about increasing brand awareness and establishing authority within your industry. By writing keyword-targeted blog articles or whitepapers, you’re opening the door for your website to appear more frequently in relevant search engine results. For instance, if your hypothetical construction company publishes articles about safety statistics, the best tools to use on a job, or innovative new building methods, you’re more likely to appear on Google for various other searches. And when your brand appears first on a variety of relevant topics, you’ll be thought of as an industry expert.
Local directory listings
Local directories are another way to increase brand awareness and expand customer engagement opportunities. Ensuring your business is accurately represented on other platforms – Yelp, Yellow Pages, social media platforms, Angie’s List, local chambers of commerce, etc. – you make it easier for people to find you and engage with you. These platforms offer their own space for reviews, business photos and other conversations about your company, so your presence on them is crucial.
Every company these days has a social media presence. After all, it’s a free way to get brands in front of quite literally everybody. But not every platform will be useful to market your products/services. Running a company that values the visual styles of their products might value Instagram or Facebook over LinkedIn. Meanwhile, service-based companies that value their expertise over style, such as a law firm, might value LinkedIn posting over Snapchat. When you create social media accounts for every platform, you’re spreading your time and efforts too thin. Becoming proficient on two or three platforms will be more valuable in the long run than a mediocre presence on six platforms.
3. Listen to Feedback
Taking an objective approach is crucial to a successful business. Remember this Kitchen Nightmares episode from a few years ago? It’s an extreme example of what happens when business owners are unable to objectively process criticism. Don’t be personally slighted at every negative customer interaction, but instead try to see it from their perspective and learn from it. Sure, not every customer is right; sometimes you’ll run into people who are nasty and negative for the sake of being nasty and negative. But if you’re consistently receiving the same feedback from different sources, it may be time for some introspection and adjustment.
Additionally, take in honest feedback from friends and family. Not every idea is perfect and sometimes we need to be dragged back down to earth to realize we may have missed the mark somewhere along the line. Sit your friends and family down and ask them point blank what they think you could improve upon and tell them not to hold back. In return, don’t hold their opinion against them if it’s negative. Instead, appreciate their honesty and take to heart what they had the courage to tell you. Make adjustments to nip potential hurdles in the bud; because if a close relative or friend is willing to criticize you politely, customers will probably also have the same complaints and may NOT be as polite. Mistakes are learning opportunities and should be treated as such.
4. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Sometimes it can be dangerous to go it alone. Surrounding yourself with trustworthy business associates and employees will bring fresh ideas to the table, offer new perspectives, and make your life easier in the long run. Consider outsourcing finance and accounting tasks on a part-time or full-time basis. As stated earlier, running a business involves a multitude of tasks that require versatility, constant critical thinking, and their own skill set. Having people around who are more knowledgeable than you in certain departments will help lighten your workload and improve the overall quality of work.
These four helpful business tips for small business owners will help you get on the road to success. For more business advice including conflict management, small biz management tips, and more, check out our blog.