When it comes to running a small business, with or without an online component, you probably don’t want to think too much about failure. Everyone wants their business to succeed. After all, this is your business and methods of operation — it is likely something that you founded and created from scratch. And while no one wants to think about their business ever going under, the reality is that it can happen if you do not make sure that it stands the test of time. Sustainable practices are important to a small business’s long-term health. Otherwise, you will hit a point where you have maxed out your growth channels and you will be stuck in place (or worse, shrink in the future). If you want to grow and sustain your business for years to come, these valuable tips are for you.
Become THE Business for Your Target Market
Nobody wants to be the 99th best business in any given category. If you want to last, then you have to make sure that you are the only business that matters to your customers—and not just a competitor among many. People are not just buying from you because they want a product, or even because they need one. People are buying from you because they value the long-term service you promise to deliver. There is a reason why companies who have built their brands around crafting experiences—Chick-fil-A, Nestle, or LUSH to name a few—have thrived. They know that it's necessary to give consumers an experience they can’t get anywhere else in order for them to choose you and your brand over another. If you look at your business, how are you different from others?
Implement Cybersecurity Practices
It is not uncommon to hear about some company or organization getting hit with a cyber attack. In the news, you may get reports on how the cyber attackers were able to access systems or information. If you are unfamiliar with these attacks, it may seem like nothing more than a random headline. However, we can tell you that being attacked can be a very serious risk for every enterprise. When businesses don’t have cybersecurity measures in place, a cyber attack could be damaging, costly, or even devastating depending on the severity of the incident and how quickly you are able to recover.
Incorporate Blog Posts into Your Content Marketing
Nowadays many business owners start a blog. Some use it for customer service, how-to guides or to increase sales. Others want to use their blogs to build an audience and promote their businesses. Either way, a blog can definitely be incorporated into your content marketing as a means to boost your business’s online presence. Great content marketing is writing blog posts that connect with your readers and drive traffic to your business. But creating content does not mean you are great at content marketing, and there is no reason why you can’t be both a good blogger and a good marketer. In order to create great content marketing from your blog, you need to understand that your blog is a business. It also must be treated as such by budgeting time for it, finding tools to organically grow your following and creating an experience for your readers. The trick is to focus on the reader, not the writer.
Use Customer Feedback as a Driving Force
Listening to your customers might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually rare. Businesses get so focused on what they are doing and why that they often miss important feedback from their customers. In order to make sure that you are not one of these companies, you need to have a process in place for listening and responding to customer complaints and/or feedback. We live in an interconnected world which means that the influence your customers have will only increase over time. This allows you to gradually build a stronger relationship with them through either negative or positive experiences.
Keep Customers Happy
I’m sure you already know that it’s important to keep your customers happy if you want to run a successful business. But do you know why? Letting your customers down is the fastest way to turn them into unhappy individuals. Leaving negative online reviews, making calls to your business line, and spamming you on social media are all signs of a severely unhappy customer who is not about to stick around much longer) The good news is you can turn these negative experiences into loyal customers, through repeated positive interactions with your brand. Let’s face it — no one wants to spend money on a business that isn’t delivering real value or quality.
Focus on Your Core Values
If you are starting a business or looking for a way to provide more value to your existing business, it might be worth considering reflecting on your core values. When you have worked so hard on something, it can be difficult to decide how to improve upon it. That is why core values are an integral part of any business. The core values of your company will help to inform strategic decisions throughout the years and may at times make a difference between following through or giving up. They help you keep your decisions consistent and focused, but just like a building they will eventually need some work to remain strong.
Use Marketing Automation
If you are a small business owner, you likely want to learn how to automate your business. Why? The answer is simple: it can help you get customers through the lifecycle and complete sales more efficiently. A lot of new businesses usually make the mistake of trying to automate too many processes at the beginning, which overwhelms employees and does not give them a chance to fully develop their skill set. However, the biggest problem with business automation is that it takes a lot of time to put the right processes in place and get people to be effective at automating everyday tasks. For this reason, you should only automate parts of your business that solve a major pain point or fill a major void in customer service.