Every small business wants to grow, and most entrepreneurs are working around the clock to make that happen. However, some business owners say they feel like they have trouble making gains, often feeling like they’re simply running in place.
In some cases, the market has slowed, which has been the situation for many businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic. But at other companies, the problem can be easier to rectify. The reality is that some entrepreneurs are working so hard in one area of their company that they fail to focus their energies on other, very important tasks.
Check out this list that every small business should consider as they work to succeed.
Maintain, Frequently Review Your Business Plan
Some entrepreneurs prefer to “wing it,” but a written business plan is essential because it lays out your vision, target audience, product/service description, funding needed and every other step you’ll need to take to grow. If you don’t have one for your established business, it’s never too late to create one. You’ll find it helpful to follow so you can meet your goals, project future cash flow and valuation numbers, and set objectives.
In addition, if funding is one of the areas where your business is struggling, you might need to seek venture capital investments or bank loans. Lenders and investors will typically ask to review your business plan before giving you any money, making this step even more essential.
Maximize Customer Service
As most entrepreneurs know, it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, but doing so requires a strong commitment to customer service. You can boost your sales by maintaining an excellent customer service program, and you can also consider it part of your marketing strategy, because happy customers will tell other people to try your business.
If you’ve never taken a good look at your existing customer service strategy, it’s a good time to review it, really listen to what customers want, and make necessary changes to keep them happy. This may mean major adjustments to your processes, but can pay off in a big way later.
Maximize Digital Tools
If entrepreneurs have learned anything from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that digital tools are essential for your survival, particularly when customers can’t come see you in person. If you don’t have a public-facing website, now is the time to create one. If you are selling items in a brick-and-mortar store, consider maintaining an online shop where customers can see your inventory and order through the internet.
Using digital tools goes beyond selling to the public — it also involves the efficiency of your information management systems. If all your business’ records are on the office computer’s hard drive or in a file drawer, you won’t be able to access them in the event that you can’t go to the office. It’s a good time to start creating digital backups or even to begin putting all of your data on the cloud so you can access it from anywhere, any time.
Increase Your Marketing Efforts
Creating a winning marketing strategy means trying a variety of techniques and then analyzing which ones work best. You’ll then put the majority of your marketing dollars behind the technique that has the highest ROI. Some entrepreneurs express surprise that one method — for instance, Facebook ads — work significantly better than another — such as sending offers in monthly newsletters. Mixing up your marketing strategy can lead to positive insights that will help you in the future.
As part of your marketing program, you should also boost your SEO efforts. If you’ve maximized your online presence, you want to make sure potential customers can find you, and the best way to do that is to optimize your use of SEO. This may require you to work with a contractor who can get you started on using keywords and targeting to find the right audience, but you should be able to maintain the program easily once an expert offers advice on how to create it.
Delegate and Outsource When Necessary
As entrepreneurs, we want to do everything ourselves, but that’s not always possible. As noted in the SEO example above, sometimes experts are needed to really make an impact at your company. Rather than spending time and energy working to make yourself an expert in areas where you have no experience (such as technology, marketing, accounting or HR), find someone else who is already an expert and either contract with them or hire them to handle that part of your operation so you can focus on growing your business.
If you’ve done everything yourself up to this point, it can be hard to delegate, but hire or contract with competent professionals and then trust them to handle this part of your operations. You’ll find that the work still gets done, but the pressure to do it is off of your hands. This allows you to put all of your efforts toward scaling and making your business a success.