Some people approach a small business venture thinking they can open up an Etsy shop and start making money right away. But the reality is, it takes planning, strategy, and awareness to really get your foot in the door and start moving in the right direction. There will be roadblocks and moments you never even considered, but whatever type of business you have, growth will come with time.
The challenges you face as a small business are great, but it doesn’t mean you should let them deter you from striving to be the best. Every business owner makes sacrifices along the way and you should be prepared to do so. However, there are plenty of things you can do that will see you reaping the rewards of your hard work in the long run. Here is some of our advice for small businesses –
Scope out the competition
Being aware of the business that’s already out there and what they’re offering your target audience is a great first step in any small business venture. This way you can compare it with yourself and realise what your unique selling points are. You’re providing new, unique products after all because that’s what the industry is missing.
Don’t be afraid to learn from what they’re doing better. If they’re doing something right, you can implement it in a way that complements your business to make more money and grow further. If they’ve been in the game for a while, they’re already going to have come across challenges that you may not have faced yet.
You can prepare yourself for things that otherwise might have left you out of pocket or lower in the ranks compared to your competition. Think of it as getting a headstart in the industry – notice what is already being done right and wrong (client feedback on competitors’ websites and review sites are brilliant tools) and use this to your advantage!
Prioritise the customer experience
An invaluable piece of advice for small businesses is to make sure you understand and prioritise your customer journey. This refers to every move your client makes when interacting with your brand. From the moment they discover you to the feedback they leave after working with you or purchasing an item.
Think about some companies you buy from often and why you like them. Chances are it’s because they have good customer service and they were easy to buy from or work with right? This is what you should be implementing in your business. Anything you can do to make their experience better will place you in high regard.
Take time to respond to customer feedback and queries – these are vital at building trust between customers and gaining exposure. People always remember when a brand has been particularly helpful or quick to respond. It makes them feel respected and valued and they’ll probably be more than happy to return after a positive experience.
This also means employing an effective, easy-to-navigate website if you have one. However you expect your customers to find you have to be obvious and simple. If they can’t even find their way around, it will negatively impact their customer journey.
Don’t stray too far from your niche
It’s easy to get excited and over-ambitious when you start out. You started your business with a goal in mind and a niche to bring to the market because it’s something no one else is offering. This is what makes you stand out from competitors and it’s what’s going to benefit you. So, advice for small businesses – stick to what you know. For now, at least.
By staying focused on your niche, it gives you plenty of valuable time to properly optimise your products and focus on the organic growth of your business. Spending as much time as you can on marketing individual elements of your brand will push you to the top of search engines and see sales goals being met quickly.
Hone in on digital marketing tactics like SEO (search engine optimisation) that will show off your expertise and prove to people that you have something valuable to offer. Display in as many ways as possible how you can solve people’s problems. How will their lives be better after buying your products? If you start branching off too far, you could lose touch with what you’re really trying to achieve and what you can provide people with.
Learn from your customers
As a business coach, I can give advice for small businesses till the cows come home. But the people you’re going to learn the most from are your customers. They interact with every part of your business, and they’re the ones that will experience flaws and challenges first-hand. Don’t be afraid to approach them for feedback.
After their purchase or time spent working with you – it’s beneficial to follow up. Whether it be an email or phone call it can improve their customer experience and allow you to ask for some live feedback. Anything you can use as testimonials will boost your reputability as well as possibly highlighting some areas for you to improve upon.
Even if they don’t mention improvements, you may notice something during their journey that could have been done quicker or more efficiently. This is when you can review your business strategies and put into place anything new that might help you run smoother.
Negative comments can be easy to overlook and forget about. But think of them as constructive criticism and it will have more of a positive impact on your business and on your overall outlook as a business owner.
Once you’ve decided on a strategy that works for you, staying consistent will help you form healthy habits that will stick in the long term. You have to keep going with the day-to-day runnings that are forming your money-making tactics because they’re going to aid the upkeep and growth of your business.
Digital marketing and content marketing rely on consistency and your ability to form realistic goals. Set yourself achievable milestones to form a pathway for uploading content and creating campaigns that will see the best results. All these small steps are going to add up to form your business’ mission and purpose. By consistently updating your website, social media, and other marketing platforms, you can gather the data that is imperative for business growth.
Without consistent data, you won’t know what you’re doing right. You need to be able to see the best ways forward by clearly documenting what your audience interacts well with and what they’re going to need next from you. If you’re only doing this on a semi-regular basis, the statistics won’t correlate and you could be prioritising the wrong things.
Pick your battles wisely
As a small business owner, you’re going to be wearing a lot of hats. It’s important you can quickly recognise where you need to be spending the most time and effort. Getting your priorities within the business straight will give you a much healthier balance too – you don’t want to feel like you’re drowning, especially if you’re not seeing results at the end of it.
Your time and resources are limited, so you shouldn’t be trying to do everything at once. You can of course hire people to help with the workload, but you still need to make sure everything you’re doing is necessary and beneficial. Stay on the right path and focus your time on making the most of your products. How can you better market them so your audience recognises you?
You might encounter some bumps in the road. If you can prioritise which of these is going to have the biggest impact, you can start by working on that goal. When you see results from it, it will make tackling the next bump a lot easier. You will gain experience in the industry’s flaws and you won’t feel like everything’s happening at once!
Where to find more advice for small businesses
It’s a real challenge to start a small business but there are plenty of rewards to reap along the way that will make it all worth it. You just need to make sure you’re recognising the direction you’re going in, and always have your goals and purpose in mind. This will help you make thoughtful decisions and you’ll begin seeing the results you hoped for.
To thrive in a competitive, ever-changing market, you need to be ready for anything that comes your way. It’s your niche and your business, so by having a solid business strategy and marketing plan you can begin to look deeper into your customer journey and competition to push the company further.
If you’re still not sure what you should be prioritising for your small business, or just aren’t sure where you should be taking your business plan, I’m happy to help! With over 30 years in the industry, I’ve successfully worked with a range of businesses to develop effective business plans, incorporating innovative sales and marketing features that provide the right results. Together, we can transform your small business, and unlock its true potential. Contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the contact form here and I’ll get back to your shortly to discuss your individual requirements.
We’re passionate about great businesses and great causes. Developing a great corporate social responsibility plan is a fantastic way of generating business. Yep, giving for good causes will generate you more business. Every single month we give away free resources in exchange for a suggested donation to directly support our chosen charity Action for A-T.