Having a small business?  Do things a little differently to get more out of your time and resources:

Is it possible to have a small business and prosper?  

Yes. It just requires some adaptation to modern realities. Being an owner of a small business is a rather interesting experience, but a challenging one as well.

The challenges include,

  • The development of economics, 
  • Corporations, and
  • Stiff competition.                                                                                                             

So, merely providing quality services or selling goods isn’t enough, and every small business owner should work on developing a marketing strategy.

Your business plan is a living document.- follow

  • Successful businesses invariably have a business plan in place, and that plan is a living document. They follow it. 
  • Being a small business owner, you can easily be caught up in the excitement of the daily grind and easily get distracted from the bigger picture.
  • Stay focused on the essential strategic course. Without a business plan, you have no yardstick by which to measure your performance. 
  • Without a proper yardstick against which you measure your performance, financial ruin could sneak up on you.

Are you feeling that you are doing everything yourself but getting nowhere. Or perhaps you are constantly overwhelmed by how much there is to do in your business?                                                  

Shifting your mindset:                                                                                                                                        

  • It all starts with a mindset, once you get out of your own way, you will be unstoppable!                    
  • Getting out of your own way by believing you deserve success is key to progress.                             
  • Make sure to take the time to celebrate the little wins you have in your business.                                   
  • Focus on the outcome of finding a solution, instead of focusing on the difficulty of the challenge.      

Goal Setting:                                                                                                                                               

  • Setting goals that truly align with who you are and what you want out of life. 
  • Then make your goals crystal clear and reflect on what they are regularly. 
  • When you have a clear goal and it’s something you want to achieve ASAP it can and will become your reality. 
  • Once you are clear on what you want, you can create the most direct path to get there.                                                                                                

Work Smarter Not Harder:                                                                                                                          

  • Having simple strategies for growth is key!  
  • Create a simple strategy to get you to your goals so you can stop hustling! 
  • Your simple strategies are like your road map to your destination.                          

Make the Right Decisions And Get The Most Out Of Everything You Do: – Be Innovative:

  • Innovation is all about creating something new. 
  • Being innovative can be both unpredictable and risky, yet also one of the smartest ways to differentiate yourself. 
  • If you manage to offer something brand new, something that no other providers offer, you can really hit the nail on the head.

Have Right People On Your Side Before You Start Your Journey:

Hire a small but efficient team:

A small business normally can’t afford to hire a big team.

You also can’t afford employees who don’t care about your business and are doing their best to make it succeed.

How do you find these people and keep them?

Compensating Without Money-to get good people,  they need to feel valued. That compensation can come in many forms, like,

  • Autonomy to do their job,
  • Listening to and trying their ideas,
  • And leniency towards time off for things like vacation,
  • Doctor’s appointments, and
  • Big events.

Creating Loyalty:

An employee will have to be loyal to contribute their best and stay with you long-term.

But how do you create – loyalty?

  • Making each employee feel valued is a great start. Instill in the minds and hearts of your workers that they are part of the business.
  • They will share as much as anyone else in the successes and failures of the company.
  • But you should also reward employees for their efforts and guide their weaknesses.
  • All of this together creates strong employee relationships, which will help you build effective and efficient teams that grow your small business.

 Do business differently than your competitors:

If you want to stand out from your competitors, it pays to do business differently than they do.

Finding and exploiting holes in their business model is a great way to set your company apart.

That’s why strategic planning – and continually revising your strategic plan – is so important.

Once you’ve created your plan, you still need to ask a few questions regularly:

  • How is this plan doing?
  • Are we reaching our goals? Are we doing what we set out to?
  • What are our competitors doing?
  • What can we learn from them?
  • Is there something they’re doing that we should copy? Avoid?
  • What is our competitive differentiator? What can we turn into a competitive advantage?
  • Does it matter what our competitors are doing?
  • Has anything in our industry changed that we should now adjust for?
  • A lot of these questions are easy to answer.
  • By reviewing competitors’ websites,
  • Reading their press releases or brand mentions,
  • Monitoring competitor analysis tools. Here’s a whole list of online competitor analysis tools you can use.

There are always other successful companies that you can learn from.

Are Your strategies tend to keep working after you stop funding them?

Spend your time and money on “evergreen” resources.

The most successful strategies tend to keep working after you stop funding them.

These are particularly great for small businesses who can’t always outspend everyone else in the market.

A small business can take simple yet highly effective steps to promote itself.

Cheap and reliable ways of promoting your business:

Search engine optimization, for example, is a great evergreen resource. There’s a bottomless well of people searching for things online. If you put in the work to get your website or brand in front of those people, it’s going to pay dividends long-term.

Use low-cost but effective marketing strategies:

Social media:              

  • Everyone talks about social media, but the truth is, it can be difficult for companies to integrate social media into their business. 
  • The type of media used, as well as how it is used, is dependent upon the type of business you have.
  • The most important aspect of social media is to use it to strengthen your customer base to achieve repeat sales.
  • Different platforms provide numerous opportunities for the promotion of a business. 
  • Trying to spread yourself across a wide net of social media platforms can be difficult for small business owners with limited resources. 
  • Instead, figure out which online channels make the most sense for your business and the customers you’re trying to reach. 
  • Are you targeting professional clients? LinkedIn might be your ideal tool. 
  • Does your marketing have a strong visual aspect? Instagram could be the best fit for your business. 

The most successful strategies for leading your small business effectively are often going to be inexpensive:

The investment that makes them work is sweat equity. Thankfully, technology and resources available to everyone make most of these marketing strategies easy to start and keep up with.

  • Creating a Google business listing and building your local SEO
  • Gaining backlinks from high-quality sites
  • Advertising on Facebook
  • Creating video tutorials and other video content
  • Starting a podcast
  • Using social media to drive traffic to your website
  • Email newsletters and other marketing messages
  • Texting with leads and customers to move them through your funnel
  • Creating great blog posts that bring traffic and convert viewers
  • Advertising on podcasts
  • Google or Bing search ads (depending on bidding costs)
  • There are traditional marketing options like direct mail, billboards, and radio ads that are reasonably priced. Which strategies are best for you, depends on who you’re targeting and what resources you have available (namely employee skills and abilities).

Content marketing is another. 

  • People often think of content as another word for blogging, but it also includes videos, infographics, and anything else you can create and publish.
  • Thorough blog posts and customer testimonial videos are powerful pieces of content you can create with little upfront investment. Here’s a guide for creating great blog posts quickly, and for creating great testimonial videos. 
  • 97% of consumers find local businesses online first. Because of this, building a strong online presence is essential to your company’s success. 

Small business sales and marketing often involve paying for one-off events and ads. They might help you earn new business, but the sales stop flowing soon after you stop paying.

E.g., you could sponsor an event that would get your name out there, start a few conversations, and maybe bring in a few new paying accounts. Then you’d sponsor the same event next year, and maybe a few other events in between, to keep new accounts coming in.

Or, you could spend 1/10th of a sponsor fee to create a customer testimonial video that you can circulate for years, bringing in dozens of new accounts. Which would you rather invest in?

Highlighting the unique factors you offer to differentiate yourself from competitors:

Stand out visually:

We humans constantly capture visual impressions, both consciously and subconsciously.

The visual aspect often makes for deeper and/or longer-lasting impressions than words themselves. And it’s important, as visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared than text.

After all, think about how much easier and faster it is to passively watch a video or scan an image than read an article.

Adding video and images can get your information to potential clients efficiently, giving value to their already limited time.

By distinguishing yourself from your competitors visually (for example through a creative logo or an intriguing design on your own website), you will stand out in the crowd and make sure your potential customers remember you and are ready to choose your product.

Branding That Stands Out:

First impressions of a brand are formed within the first 10 seconds. 

That’s why it’s so important to get your branding right. 

  • When it comes to recognition, you’ve got to stand out from your competitors. 
  • Take Starbucks, for example, the largest coffee chain in the world uses a mermaid for their logo. What does a mermaid have to do with coffee? Nothing. But it differentiates their brand from competitors.                                                                                               

Another key factor in branding is color.

Color increases brand recognition by 80%. Sticking with consistent branding color and font will help to improve brand recognition.

When 90% of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously, brand recognition matters.

Know Your Audience:

Considering the age your ad will appeal to, the location of your company, the interests your audience might have, and so on, will make a campaign more cost-effective and less time-consuming, ultimately leading to more success.

Adapting your model or approach for a wide variety of businesses is not cost-effective for your business and it makes it harder for people to know if your company is the right fit.

A great way to stand out is to narrowly define whom you serve.

But small businesses have to be more aware, more attuned to who your ideal customer is and what makes them tick.

It’s okay if you don’t have tons of money to throw at new campaigns or to test various market segments. You just have to pay attention to the right people.

What’s your unique asset? What strengths do you have to play on that your competitors do not have?

You possess an invaluable asset that no competitor can copy…What’s your unique asset?

It’s your people- Highlight unique factors to differentiate yourself from competitors.

When you try to serve everyone, you serve no one: Target your ideal customers and only your ideal customers.

Don’t Sell…Connect:

Social media marketing is about developing a relationship with your customers—not just constantly selling to them. Use the platform to listen and engage with your online clients.

  • Work to establish a relationship with your potential clientele.
  • You need to post regularly to keep your brand at the top of your audience’s mind.
  • Avoid solely focusing on promoting your brand.
  • Though potentially time-consuming, respond to comments.
  • Consumers need to feel heard to feel a connection with your company.

  • By responding efficiently, and at a quicker rate than your competitors, your company is more likely to gain followers.
  • Additionally, build ads and posts that you believe people will want to respond to or share with others.
  • Simple self-promotion does not leave room for much discussion, and posting links, though sometimes appropriate and engaging, can also risk losing an audience to an outside page.
  • Focusing on engagement with your clients–talking with them instead of at them– will get you the most return on investment, with committed customers more willing to follow your page.

Make Sure the Timing is Right:

By waiting until the right time, you have the ability to reach a larger audience and maximize engagement.

  • According to sprout social, the best time to post on Facebook is between 11 AM and 1 PM on Wednesdays.
  • In general, weekdays are again the days with the most traffic, Sunday with the least.

With this knowledge, it is important to schedule posts for a time they will reach the largest audience.

Strong customer relationships are an unbeatable source of competitive advantage: Sometimes, We fail to make the customer feel special. We didn’t do it intentionally. Maybe we were overly focused on winning a major account. But somewhere along the way, someone in our company treated the customer indifferently–and we lost the business.

Strong customer relationships allow you, 

  • To get  more business,
  • Charge higher prices, 
  • Gain first access to new opportunities, 
  • Retain customers longer, 
  • Recover from those occasional mistakes that occur in providing staffing services. 

Develop a deliberate program to continuously nurture irresistible customer monitoring and responding to both negative and positive reviews is essential for customer retention. 

  • Studies show customers are 14% more likely to return to a business that responded to their feedback.  
  • 84% of Americans weigh online reviews before they decide to buy. 
  • If your customer service strategy doesn’t include review management, you could be losing customers to competitors before they even get a chance to experience your product or service.
  • Expand your network of contacts – If your business hinges on a relationship with one or two decision-makers, you’re likely to lose the customer at some point. 
  • Strive to nurture relationships with as many different people as you can–and on as many different levels as you can.
  • The extra effort – The personal touch is missing in many areas of communication with customers, so be willing to go the extra mile and create a lasting impression.

Reward Customer Loyalty:

Why reward customers who already spend money at your establishment?

  • A loyal customer is 17 times more likely to recommend your company to family and friends.
  • We all want new customers but the reality is keeping your current customers has a greater ROI.
  • Existing customers already know and trust your business, therefore you don’t have to spend as much on marketing efforts to get them to buy.

Why not reward them instead?

You need to get people to buy again from your business. What is your plan?

Email marketing, retargeting, or SMS marketing are a few ways this step is implemented.

Basically, how do you get your past customers to buy from you again?

First, get your customer personas straight.

Now ask yourself a few questions.

  • What exactly are those targets trying to accomplish?
  • How can you give them that in a better or more enjoyable way than other companies?
  • How do they want or choose to interact with companies (online, via text, etc.)?
  • Where do they spend their time (in the car, on Facebook, etc.)?
  • What message resonates with them (succinctly shares your value proposition)?
  • How can you get your message in front of those targets where they spend their time?

Create a powerful offer or guarantee.

  • Guarantees are a great way to reduce the perceived risk of buying your product or service.
  • Eliminating the hesitation for making a purchase can lead to more sales.
  • Plus, a guarantee can also make your company seem more trustworthy and likable.

Want to stand out from your competitors?-Give Back – 

Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest impact. How can you do the unexpected to surprise and delight your customers? If you do this, you’ll stand out and create raving fans.

  • There are plenty of additional ways your company can stand out: you can deliver extreme value, give something valuable away for free, create unique partnerships or build powerful communities.
  • Support the causes that are important to your customers.
  • You have to spend a part of your budget on a community plan. This is about owning your niche and keeping your business top-of-mind for your target customers.

  • Do better than them. 92% of consumers say when a company supports a social or environmental cause, their image of that company is more positive than those who don’t give back.
  • Giving back to your community is a great way to show your customers their money is being well spent.
  • Essentially, cause marketing is the idea of creating a partnership or relationship with a non-profit or cause.
  • The idea is that the business lends its time, money, and expertise to help promote the non-profit. This support helps the non-profit and the business also benefits by being affiliated with a worthy cause.
  • Giving back to the community through a cause marketing effort is a fantastic way to make a name for your company, while also doing some good.

REMEMBER: Competition Is A Good Thing: Actively learn from your competitors:

Don’t forget, there are positive aspects of brand competition.

Competition is a sign that there’s a demand for your service or product. If you don’t have any competitors that’s a good indication your business might not last.

Another benefit of competition is that it makes you better. The competition gives us the drive to constantly improve and be better than our competitors. Do you think Apple would be where it is today without Microsoft?

There are many opportunities For your Business to “Slip”: Watch Out For – 

  • Lack of customers: This can be caused by inappropriate marketing strategies, being in the wrong location for your target market, poor signage, new competition, and even poor visibility.
  • Uninteresting products – creating a product that no one will buy,
  • Money waste-Falling sales: The likely cause of this could be targeting the wrong customer, having old and outdated products that no longer serve the needs of the customer or competition.
  • Poor team-Low productivity: This is often caused by low staff motivation, which itself can be caused by lack of staff training, using old and outdated equipment, wastage, and high absenteeism.
  • Lack of investors’ attention
  • Digital marketing mistakes,
  • But one of the serious reasons for the failure is a complete lack of marketing.

 The Other Factors are,

  • Starting a project without knowledge of the market, target audience, and its segments a disaster as it is.                                                             
  • Copy competitors without unique differences and delay the release of the product. 
  • The product is not yet needed by the market (customers solve the problem in another way)
  • The product occupies its niche (soon it will be copied or an alternative will be offered).
  • If the product helps to solve an existing problem, then it is worth considering how customers solved or ignored it before you appeared – this is an indirect competition, which is often overlooked.

  • Lack of focus is another marketing mistake worth mentioning. Often startups have a vision of some grand platform with amazing capabilities and features addressing multiple problems at once. In reality, however, as a startup, you simply don’t have the resources to build so much complexity.
  • Be sure to study the market, create a portrait of a potential customer, and of course check your idea. It makes sense to use specialized.

User retention?

  • If your product/service is something cool and shiny, it is likely to attract visitors.           
  • But unless it provides real value (solves a problem), you will lose your audience right away – your marketing efforts are simply wasted.
  • Create an innovative -Value-added: product. In other words, you should offer a product that is so unique or even trendy that the customers are enticed to avail your offer and your business is associated with that offering.
  • First of all, focus on solving very well a single, well-defined problem for a single, well-defined market. Second, focused in terms of technology (one simple, lean solution) and third – marketing (a single channel that works).

Skimming prices-Invalid Marketing Budget:

Most importantly,

  • If it was super expensive for the masses.
  • It just failed to connect with the consumers who did not see much value in it.
  • Innovation is great as long as it benefits the consumers. Also, you have to do anything and everything including cutting costs to bring the price down if you want to sell your product.
  • You need to set up a smart marketing strategy where you can offer discounts in a way that benefits you as well as your customers.
  • A high-quality product or service at a reasonable price — is something that every customer desires. This is something that will ultimately make or break the popularity of your product.
  • Too much money is not good either, especially if the future of the product is uncertain.
  • Overspending and cash flow are the two most important problems you need to keep in mind when it comes to finances for startups, especially once you start making money.
  • Over-hiring too early is generally speaking a big mistake and could easily ruin an otherwise very promising business.
  • Early in the life of the company, it’s important to keep the overheads as low as possible (founder living expenses + servers). You can outsource anything else you need (freelancers, agencies).

Focus on profit, not just survival:

  • If your focus is on mere survival, you stand a good chance of being left with very little in your financial reserves.
  • This will mean that you are not able to fund growth.
  • You must focus on and plan for profits. Be clear about how much profit you will need to make in order to enable your business to grow and develop.
  • Knowing how much profit you need to progress will give you the impetus to organize your business around this target.

Manage your resources with wisdom:

Like all businesses, your business has a wide range of resources to manage. Some of the examples of resources you must ensure you manage wisely include time, cash, raw material, and people. There is a direct correlation between good resource management and profitability. In order to be successful, a business must manage its resources well, because in the long run, profits flow from meticulous resource management.

Outsource if you have a strong business:

  • If you have more time than money, do it yourself.
  • Spend that time learning those things and go do it yourself because you have the time to deploy.
  • But if your business is going well, or if you have the resources, then you should become the expert on your business and on your product and on those things and pay experts to do what they’re experts at.
  • This gives you the flexibility to cut back on spending almost instantly if you suddenly hit a bump and keep the business alive, giving you more time to iterate and solve the problems.

The bottom line is that every failure has a lesson to teach. And it is better to learn from other people’s mistakes than your own. Startups face an incredible amount of challenges and there is no magic formula for success. However, you can improve your chances by avoiding the obvious pitfalls.

Run your business and do not let your business run you.