Growing a small business is not an easy task, which is why you might be looking for some advice at this stage. Luckily, we’re here to help. Even though there is no single best formula for starting your own business, we’ve gathered some good practices that can give you a head start. See them for yourself.
It’s no secret that small businesses run the world these days. In the US alone, there are 30.2 million small or medium-sized (SMEs) businesses that account for 75.3% of private-sector employers. And that’s not all. The percentage seems to be even bigger in the UK, where 99.9% of all private sector businesses in 2018 were small or medium-sized. In turn, small business owners are not only a significant part of the workforce, but they also create jobs themselves.
Most entrepreneurs would agree that running a business is not a piece of cake, though. In the US, only 4 out of 100 businesses survive the first 10 years and 1 out of 12 businesses closes every year. However, if we take a closer look at successful enterprises, they tend to follow a similar set of good practices. We analyzed them carefully and chose 10 good practices that you can take advantage of when growing a small business. Keep reading to get familiar with all of them.
1. Hire smart.
Hiring is one of the most significant (and risky) business processes in every company. Especially in a smaller one, where not having the right people in the right places can easily undermine any project, not to mention team morale, and eventually have a negative impact on the company’s revenue. Small businesses usually don’t have dedicated HR teams with smooth recruitment processes in place, so cloud-based applicant screening software can come to the rescue. An idea worth considering is also to hire entry-level professionals, train them and let them grow together with the company. Such employees are very often motivated, loyal and their own professional goals often meet the company’s KPIs.
2. Outsource whatever possible.
Business owners often tend to do everything by themselves and thus, often end up being burned-out and overwhelmed with tasks that can, and even should, be delegated to someone else. As mentioned above, hiring is risky and time-consuming - that’s why it may be a good idea to outsource some tasks and projects to freelancers or agencies. Business owners should focus on what they do best, whether it’s polishing the product, finding clients or engage in strategic thinking. When they spend too much time on administrative and basic marketing tasks, it might be high time to hire a virtual assistant. The number of people doing this job is growing and it’s estimated that by 2021 the number of people who hire virtual assistants worldwide will reach 1.8 billion. Other areas that are often outsourced are payroll and accounting. They’re essential functions in every company and require specific skills and deep knowledge. At the same time, they’re easy to outsource and it’s very common to do it.
3. Work with user-friendly cloud-based tools.
The right set of tools can make a huge difference in managing a small company. If you need to set up a powerful contact center, it makes more sense to choose a cloud provider than hiring an IT team to maintain the software and its infrastructure. Thanks to the cloud, you can upscale or downscale and pay as you go. Security also an important role - it’s well-taken care by the providers. Cloud-based tools are also useful in terms of team collaboration and dealing with all types of documents.
4. Host events.
Events can be an outstanding way to attract new customers and to increase the brand’s awareness at the same time. However, they mostly make sense for local businesses, with a local target audience - or at least when local people are a significant part of the target audience. It’s can also be time-consuming to build a community around a series of events, as it might take months and even years. But, at the end of the day, it may be worth all the effort. Hosting events can also help to build the owner’s personal brand as a local expert in the field. Apart from hosting events, attend those organized by others and network with potential business partners.
5. Offer extraordinary customer service.
A happy client becomes an advocate of the brand, whereas a disappointed one will likely switch to the competitor. Numbers don’t lie: 89% of consumers do exactly that after facing bad customer service. Errors and problems related to the product can happen to everyone, but it’s crucial to deal with them properly. Outstanding customer service is measurable and lets the company grow - mostly in terms of clients coming from referrals and through word of mouth. In the age of social media, everyone is an influencer.
6. Use Social Media.
Speaking of - social networks are important not only for customer service but also as a part of the overall marketing strategy. However, it’s better to keep in mind that social media are not always necessary - some, particularly local and offline businesses, thrive without any online presence. But when the results of the audience and competitor analysis suggest that the company should be present on social media, go for it. Building such an online presence might be challenging at first, but it can quickly pay off. Social media are perfect in terms of communicating with clients, sharing useful information about the product, employer branding, and promoting products or services. It doesn’t mean that the brand has to be everywhere - it should always be wherever the target audience is.
7. Nurture existing customers.
Attracting a new client is reportedly five times more expensive and time-consuming than making a new transaction with an existing one. Many businesses tend to focus on acquiring new clients and neglect those who have already purchased in the process, which is a big mistake. Analyze the most loyal customers, determine what keeps them coming back and improve it in order to convince more clients to come back, buy your products and use your service. At the same time, nurture loyal clients even more, by giving them special offers and providing them with highly personalized service. There is a high chance they will become the advocates of your brand.
8. Be data-driven, and always measure the results.
If a certain approach doesn’t work, then stop trying to figure it out and experiment with other ideas instead. For online business owners, tracking the website’s traffic and the results of marketing campaigns is a must. Everyone should keep track of sales and try to reproduce whatever causes its peaks. For seasonal products, use Google Trends to see when the interest starts and promote the product right before the competitors. Track links, compare social media engagement, experiment with email marketing. The possibilities here are endless!
9. Make your sales and marketing efforts coherent.
There is nothing worse than a customer who is attracted by a brilliant marketing campaign and then discouraged by poor sales efforts or inadequate customer support. Or, on the contrary, when marketing is unable to attract customers and motivated sales reps can’t meet their goals. Every part of the marketing and sales activities: be it the website, social media, newsletter, call center, mobile app, or brick-and-mortar store - should be coherent and meet the same high standards. A huge majority (92%) of small business owners claim that their website is the most effective marketing channel. If this is the case, don’t ruin it with mediocre social media presence or disappointing customer service. Here’s how you can improve your customer support today.
10. Go global.
Some businesses are meant to be small and act locally, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In some cases, global opportunities are at your fingertips. Nowadays, scaling up is easier than ever, thanks to the global e-commerce platforms and easy access to localization services, and also international workforce offering their services remotely.
Opening and growing a small business is definitely not easy, and it’s common to look for advice. Actually, there are many tips you can take advantage of at the beginning of your journey - that’s precisely why we chose the best practices for you to get inspired, and give you a head start. Remember, though, that there is no single best formula for starting your own business, as it’s often a learn-as-you-go process. Good luck!