Nowadays, everyone can have a small business. As society evolved, people could assess their communities’ needs and do something on their own, which is a great thing. But in some cases, small businesses are not surviving too long because of the fierce competition and changing trends. Therefore, owners need to be aware of the new technologies and focus on what’s essential for the company.
We know it might feel overwhelming trying to improve every aspect of your business. Still, as long as you’re planning and systemizing everything from the beginning, it should help follow the same pattern long after you’ve opened your company. Therefore, in this article, you’ll find some crucial tips for growing your business in 2022.
Improve Your Digital Presence
Building and shaping your business’s digital presence is more important than you’d think. You can notice this aspect even in your day-to-day life: when you’re looking for a product, what’s the first place to search for? The Internet. And what are you exactly expecting to get? Relevant information about the product, from ingredients to reviews. And you won’t look in only one place.
Therefore, when it comes to improving a digital presence, you must put yourself in your client’s shoes and think like them. The only way to do that is to create a marketing strategy and take the right steps toward knowing your audience so you can provide better content. Here are a few tips on how to make the best online presence for your business:
- Optimize your website and increase online visibility. To ensure that you appear at the top of Google’s results when people are looking for your products and services, you should use proper keywords on your website to help the engine recognize your business.
- Provide relevant content on your online channels. To improve customer retention, you should offer quality content for your clients because it demonstrates your expertise in your niche and helps people find exactly what they are looking for. If you’re selling specific devices, people would want to know how they can help their lives get better, and here is where you can contribute to all these questions by writing articles, for example.
- Participate in more social networks to improve your Google ranking (which will rate your business and decide its authority and usefulness).
- Stay in touch with your clients even after the post-purchase stage by offering discounts from time to time, sending newsletters periodically and always being transparent about how you’re using their information only for their benefit.
Consider a DPM (digital presence management) strategy for your business that works on three levels:
- Local presence, which includes information regarding the physical location of your business, name, address and phone number.
- Online presence, combining all the information and processes as to where to find your business in the online environment. This includes your company’s website, social media, online reviews, SEO, PPC and many others.
- Local presence management, that works through associating the local and online markets in order to cultivate your brand across the Internet.
According to Loaded Media, the online presence you’ll build will shape the perception of people regarding your business, which can either help you move forward or fall back. It’s up to you to create an image that makes people trust your business.
Benefits of having a digital presence:
- Your products and services are easy to find if you provide multiple avenues available to connect with the public.
- Customers can discover your business through various social media platforms and channels.
- You’re building strong relationships between your business and customers.
- You’re marketing your brand so people recognize your products and services.
Make The Right Investments
Having a small business can limit your view, as you may not have access to the same benefits as bigger businesses, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the right investments in what really matters. Maybe it’s challenging to figure that out, as businesses have different needs, but here are some guiding tips on what you should focus on growing your company.
Prioritizing customer service should be mandatory for all businesses. After all, you’re still on the market because of your customer’s willingness to choose you over the competition. Therefore, you should ensure that your customers feel valued and appreciated, even when they’re not making purchases. To accomplish an excellent customer service, here’s what you can do as a business:
- Seek customer feedback. Don’t hesitate to give people the opportunity to add their reviews and testimonials regarding your products and services, even if some of them are negative. Seeing only positive reviews might seem suspicious because it might be a sign of censoring feedback.
- Personalize your customer service. Get close to your customers by adopting a friendly approach when contacting you. Greet them, use their name while talking and ask open questions about their needs.
- Set clear service standards. This has more to do with your team because the way they’re delivering information and helping customers will influence their opinions about your business. You should define the tone and style of language suited for your brand’s value.
All these tips wouldn’t be possible without investing in customer service training. Even if it takes time and must be completed with every team member, it’s worth it. The training should include exercises regarding
- Attitude (how to deal with unfriendly customers and learn to step into the customers’ shoes)
- Skills (communication)
- Knowledge (setting customer service standards)
Another good investment for your company is a marketing strategy developed to fit your business’ particularities. This mechanism consists of a long-term plan to achieve your company’s goals. A marketing strategy includes several touch points that are crucial for growth:
- Target audience (made through building a customer persona)
- Value proposition (a simple statement made for customers to know why they would choose your products or services instead of other competitors. Take the example of UBER with “Tap the app, get a ride” and “The smartest way to get around”)
- Product mix (also known as the 4Ps-product, place, price and promotion)
- Brand messaging (which defines how a company delivers its value proposition and business values based on the tone of voice, language and core message)
- Promotional activities (advertising, publicity, public relations, packaging and much more)
- Content marketing (used to attract, engage and retain an audience by creating and sharing relevant photos, videos and articles about your business.
Considering these factors, how do you write such a marketing strategy plan according to your objectives? The key is clearly stating what you want to aim for and avoiding ambiguous ideas. If you don’t know where to start, use the SMART method, which can clear up any doubts about what you can do:
- Specific: specify what goal you want to achieve
- Measurable: choose tools to help you measure results
- Achievable: make sure your objectives don’t exceed your capacity and budget at the current time
- Relevant: don’t get overwhelmed by all the things you could do. Instead, focus on what needs to be done for your business to grow.
- Time-bound: it’s best to set a specific time when you want to reach your goal within
In the past years, small businesses were the most affected regarding cybersecurity, as working remotely and hybrid office alternatives were declared to be more vulnerable to hackers’ attacks. Small and medium-sized businesses are prone to cyberattacks more than big businesses as a result of:
- Ineffective security measures
- More frequents attacks
- Targeted cyberattacks
The common cyberattacks occurring on small businesses are:
- Phishing (57%): this type of attack is difficult to recognize, as it’s made to trick people into revealing important information to the hacker. Most of the time, it’s designed as a form on an email from a trusted bank or other authority, asking you to click on malicious links or provide your bank code or other sensitive information.
- Credential theft (30%): this malware involves stealing people’s identities. Therefore, the hacker is able to have the same privileges as the victim (to reset passwords or download private data).
How can small businesses avoid these dangerous attacks in a world of technology? You can ensure your company’s security by providing the right employee training and investing in security software. If you think it won’t fit your budget, consider that losing information from your company will cost you more than you’d think. Besides money, you’ll also lose your credibility, and your customers will be reluctant to purchase again from you, fearing that their data might be stolen. Therefore, here’s what you should consider doing:
- Train your employees with the basic security practices and policies. Having strong passwords and establishing appropriate Internet use guidelines should be known by every employee. Handling and protecting customer information should also be included.
- Invest in antivirus software. This service has become more accessible to businesses, and it will only benefit you if you choose one instead of keeping your data traditionally. You’ll get cloud-based anti-malware, firewalls and patch management. An antivirus software ensures protection from removable devices, protects your data and files and can limit web access to unauthorized websites.
Keeping your information on hardware devices isn’t feasible for a long time. Even for a small business, choosing a cloud-based tool is more than just for security but also for productivity and cost-efficiency. If you want to grow as a business, you need to adapt to the marketplace changes and new trends to seek efficiency in your working methods.
Cloud-based services offer almost unlimited storage and bandwidth. You can access any important information no matter where you are, so you can make adjustments in real-time and improve your collaborations with other groups or communities. At the same time, it guarantees disaster recovery and backup solutions so you won’t lose anything if you or your team makes mistakes.
These tools also benefit your IT resources because moving to the cloud can help your IT department have fewer responsibilities and only manage the processes that software applications can’t conduct. This way, your team can focus more on innovation and adopt a proactive mindset, which can help your team move forward.
Annual Strategic Planning
If you’ve passed the one-year milestone, congratulations! You still have a long way to go, so there’s something more that you need to do, which is strategic planning than can be personalized, but it should touch on some points of interest, like:
- How did you measure success at the beginning, and what’s changed? In the first months, you had a vision for your business, including a purpose, mission and values. Are they still the same? Did you implement some reachable categories to measure success?
- After analyzing your business’s past results, what are the future priorities? Consider some factors that shaped your business, like accomplishments or lessons. Additionally, you could make a SMART examination to have a start point for your future predictions.
- Don’t forget to convert the problems into strategic issues, which will be your new priority statements. For example, your weaknesses can be improved if you treat them as strategies for your business to grow instead of ignoring them.
Lastly, try to see the bigger picture after establishing specific strategies. Take a step back and see the long-term strategic progress now and in the future. Having a broad look at your work is beneficial, especially when you’re feeling stuck. Also, don’t forget to keep things realistically possible and expand at your own pace. Even if you should take advantage of said opportunities, sometimes it’s best to sit back and change your focus point.
It’s not that easy to keep your business running when so many factors influence its course. But if you’re trying to keep up with trends and new technology tools, you might succeed in staying relevant in the marketing and growing slowly and safely.
The best thing to do is to know your limits, so you‘re not risking jumping ahead and making dangerous decisions that can affect your business. Sometimes, it’s better to slow down, watch what your competitors are doing and make the right decision based on the company’s current situation.