Boutique is beautiful. Niche is nice. Small business is versatile, flexible and gets things done - fast. SMBs are critical to the economic future of our country and can act just like big business. We’ve got all the tips to help you keep up.
Grabbing a soy latte from the cafe. Buying milk from the corner store. Looking up the menu to order pad thai for delivery. Sending an email for your car to be serviced. Picking up your dry-cleaning. This is how we interact with small businesses almost every day.
Accelerated globalisation. Fierce competition. Social diversity. Rapid technological development. The marketplace needs business to continually adapt and adjust. As we discussed previously in our blog How To Protect Your Business Right Now, small business is at the heart of the global economy with nine out of every ten companies privately owned SMBs. Small independent businesses propels the growth of our country, boosts the economy, generates jobs, creates opportunities at a grassroots level and expands the global marketplace.
More than 2 million businesses account for almost 25% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product and employs more than 40% of the workforce. The economy simply can not exist without small business. Certainly it’s difficult to compete against big corporates, with their marketing budgets and bulk purchasing power. But we have plenty of advantages over the larger competition too. While we’re a small business, this doesn’t mean we have to think small. Small business can act like big business. Follow our advice to get a leg up on the bigger competition.
Thinking about the future of your business is essential to sustainable business growth while allowing you to shape your future. Approach your daily tasks and long term goals with strategy and planning to increase your opportunities.
- Analyse, plan and look ahead for solving problems and making decisions
- Allow yourself up to an hour each week to form strategies and think of the future. Ask yourself what’s changing, how do you need to adapt, where are the opportunities, and how can you capitalise on them?
- Organise a quarterly or half-yearly meeting with management or all staff for a business symposium. Keep it simple, with every intention for the session to be fun and creative. Plan, think big, talk new skills and ideas. Reach for the stars
Use Technology To Your Advantage
In this disrupted economy, dramatic advances in technology across the last few decades has displaced millions of jobs. We now have a pool of skilled and experienced workers entering small business. Previously, a bricks and mortar business and reaching customers was costly, but today, anyone can be an entrepreneur from their home office to customers around the world, with an electronic device, the internet, a website, cloud based platforms like Xero, Shopify, Amazon, and social media. Technology drives business, allowing small business to act like big business at a cost effective price.
- Jump onto google and do some research - you’ll be surprised what programs have been created to help small businesses run, whether it’s managing your passwords, accounts, workforce and payments, organising your business and time, scheduling your social media, sending out newsletters and special offers or storing files
- Maintain and update hardware and computer systems where possible
The basis to business offers a solution to a problem - the best businesses serve everyday needs. Adapting to continual change and disruption such as customer demand, government regulations, technology and the economic climate will always keep business on its toes - and this is where small business excels. Transformation is imperative. With smaller staff and less formal processes, it’s much easier for small businesses to innovate. Small business is small enough to change quickly to their customers’ demands and the marketplace - and so stay relevant.
- Stay informed of industry technology updates
- Subscribe to quality industry news
- Be familiar with what’s going on with the government by following the Federal Budget and working with a great bookkeeper and accountant
Innovation doesn’t always have to focus on technology, it can be also be about improving operations and processes to make tasks more efficient. Small business can escape being bogged down by complicated decisions and procedures and set up new ways of doing things almost immediately. But big or small, having the right business structure in place is key to business success.
- Improve generating leads and sales
- Implement changes to customer service or staff procedures
- Redefine roles and responsibilities for staff
- Adjust branding, marketing and promotional strategies
Tap Into Niche Markets With Your USP
Boutique is beautiful. Niche is nice. Cookie cutter no longer cuts it. Independence is healthy because it offers creativity, originality, flavour and choice with attention to detail. The distribution powers of the internet and cost effectiveness of digital advertising allows small business to easily and efficiently cater to the most complicated and distinctive tastes. You also have the advantage of being on ground level with your customers, to know what they really want. The landscape has become incredibly competitive, particularly with online retail. But it’s also a more level playing field because all the old rules have been thrown out. To stand out, pinpoint your Unique Selling Points based on the 4 P's
- Product characteristics
- Price structure
- Placement strategy (location and distribution) and
- Promotional strategy
Once you define what makes your business unique and special, you can design your entire brand and marketing strategy around this to really tap into your niche markets.
Jump Into Joint Ventures
While the future is written by renewable energy, artificial intelligent and digital technology, new partnerships will encourage strategic breakthroughs, inspire innovation and growth and establish credibility. Find another small business that complements your services or products, or team up with industry businesses or businesses in the area - after all, there's strength in numbers. Whatever the project, make sure there are clear business projections, outcomes and expectations to help guide the entire process.
- For something relatively simple, set up a cross promotion or running a joint competition in-house and on social media
- Launch a collaborative print or digital product or gift guide
- Consider holding a block party to create local foot traffic
- Explore the more involved project of a creative collaborative product line
Offer Great Service
Business always needs to adjust to the ever-changing customer landscape by staying relevant to your market while maintaining a solid reputation. Word of mouth will always be the strongest form of marketing, but being able to present your credibility upfront - particularly online - means competition has become focused.
It seems a given, but in reality, great service is hard to come by. Customer demands are ever increasing, and they’re voting with their wallets now more than ever. Price, quality and speed needs to be met at all times, because if you don’t, someone else will. More nimble, efficient, connected and globally competitive than before, small business can adjust quickly to keep up with customer demand and changing tastes by staying informed of your customers’ needs. Customer service provides a great deal of value to your business.
- Work at developing relationships
- Work on communications and return phone calls and emails where possible
Don’t forget, customers are smart and savvy, using google and Facebook for more in-depth research. Online reviews in particular are crucial and can make or break business. Small business enjoys direct contact and an intimate relationship with their customers so can turn the direct contact into a validation.
- Encourage feedback at every opportunity - whether in person or online - to audit your products and services while providing a review for potential customers
- Monitor your social media and google reviews
- Subscribe to industry news
- Follow where your customers hangout online to stay updated with their needs
Small business are run by people rather than stockholders, boards or automated programs. Customers are more likely to connect - and work - with a person rather than an automated email or voice, because at the end of the day, people don’t choose to work with products, they choose to work with people. As a small business owner, we have a closer connection with our customers and our target audience. This is, in fact, small business’ greatest asset. There are simple ways of genuinely connecting with your customers to expand the purchase into a relationship.
- Install chatbots to websites
- Have Out Of Office messages on your social media business pages and emails and address them at least twice a day
- Engage with comments and posts on social media.
- Send out a personalised weekly or fortnightly enewsletter with special offers, a great tip or link to a meaningful blog post
Seek Professional Advice
While these tips are great for helping you compete in the world of big business, the very real pressures of running a business, managing employees and cashflow while controlling debt is difficult. If you’re need answers to the hard questions with tough decisions to make, call in the experts.The sooner you act, the sooner - and easier - your problems will take to be resolved. You can expect the professionals to turn business around, where they'll
Does Business Need A Turnaround?
We Know How.