As many a new business owner can attest, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to running a small business. However, there is vital info that all entrepreneurs must learn, either before or after their business starts. For useful tips for taking your brand from unknown to profitable, consider the following advice.
Build a Support Network
Aside from the fact that running a small business can feel isolating, building a strong support network is important for many reasons according to the Financial Post. A support group gives you a place to turn when you need advice, training or simply words of encouragement. It can offer an outlet for you to share your knowledge and experience, develop key business skills and reduce stress and anxiety. Plus, a support network can connect you with new talent, vendors and customers.
There is no shortage of support networks you can join or ways to go about forming your inner circle. For instance, you can join professional organizations, mastermind groups, meetups and online forums. You can also hire a professional coach or mentor or find an accountability partner.
Many small business owners find that membership with their local chamber of commerce proves invaluable. Among other benefits, chambers of commerce offer networking opportunities, free resources and discounts for local business owners, education and training, and numerous small business services.
Speaking of communication, don’t forget to foster that sense of community within your own business as well. Open and honest communication amongst your employees will help your operation run smoothly and help you avoid any problems due to a lack of communication.
Be Efficient With Your Time
Though easier said than done, as an entrepreneur you must use your time wisely. Even the slightest unnecessary time drain can — and does — affect the bottom line, if even indirectly. This can mean outsourcing and automating tedious yet crucial tasks.
Take mobile marketing and social media. While it may be tempting to DIY, creating and maintaining your brand in the mobile and digital realm can quickly consume more time and energy than you bargained for. Staying fresh and innovative is the name of the game when it comes to mobile marketing, which means constant diligence is needed.
Another time-consuming task is enterprise resource planning (ERP), which encapsulates a number of business functions including inventory management, sales, project and time tracking, and payroll. Payroll itself is a big administrative investment in time if done manually. The average business owner spends about five hours calculating, filing and paying payroll taxes each pay period. That adds up to 21 days a year. Using ERP business software automates and integrates these functions, helping reduce the time you spend, avoid costly mistakes, and increase organization efficiency overall.
Prioritize the Customer Experience
Customer service and the customer experience go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing. Customer service entails supporting your customers and interacting with them directly, whereas the customer experience focuses on optimizing the customer journey as a whole.
Customer service involves you and your employees, while the customer experience utilizes technology, branding and, yes, human interaction. Some ways in which you can improve the customer experience are as follows:
- Reach and engage with them through creative, measurable mobile marketing
- Use an online banner maker to create custom graphics for social media.
- Appeal to customers’ sense of immediacy and desire for convenience.
- Capture customer feedback in real time and use it to improve.
- Create and deliver a custom shopping experience by working with NYC Website Design to develop an engaging web experience.
- Build an emotional connection with your customers.
- Develop a workplace environment where your employees are happy and can thrive.
SuperOffice notes that customer experience is the number one brand differentiator in today’s market and can impact everything from customer loyalty and customer retention to overall sales. For these reasons and more, it’s imperative that you develop a customer experience strategy early in the game and act on it.
There is no magic bullet for small business success. However, take the above advice to heart and you may set yourself on the path to triumph