Spinning your wheels is no way to run a small business, but sometimes we get stuck trying to operate on age-old advice. If you’ve hit a tough spot or are struggling to drive your business to the next level, consider ditching outdated wisdom. Adopt these modern-day measures and cruise to higher ground.
Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
Do find your niche.
Many small businesses try to broaden their customer bases by being as versatile as possible. A deck and patio expert might expand to do fences, for example, but then the builder slowly realizes the new venture is taking time away from the work she does best. Maybe she’s even received a few so-so online reviews regarding the fencing, and it’s dragging down her rating on her passion work. Carve out a niche and strive to bolster it. You’ll gain more business for the work you excel at than for the stuff you’re doing just to try to make an extra buck.
Don’t rely on paper records for bookkeeping.
Do use technology to streamline communication.
Before the digital age, keeping a paper trail was a must. But nowadays there’s an app for that — for just about everything really. Some small businesses are skipping email in favor of newer communication and collaboration tools, like Slack and Asana. Take a close look at all your systems, from creating estimates to invoicing, and make sure you’re operating with efficiency. This checklist will help. If you’ve got oodles of paper files that could be digital, now’s the time to start the process. That storage room can likely be put to better use.
Don’t overspend on pricy marketing.
Do capitalize on word of mouth and organic growth.
You don’t need to shell out cash for a fancy local TV ad in order to gain traction locally. The best advertising comes directly from the people you work with every day. More than 90 percent of consumers trust recommendations from others, according to a Nielsen survey. Know that happy customers will likely tell their friends about you. If you are going to spend money on marketing efforts, put your dollars toward website development – and make sure the website can be viewed on a mobile device. If web designers are in short supply in your area, you can build an attractive website yourself with tools like Weebly and Wix. Another idea? You can also set up simple email campaigns to stay in touch with your customers with tools like Constant Contact and MailChimp. These platforms are designed to be easy to use: no Marketing or Coding degree required.
Don’t chase the customer that won’t be satisfied with your efforts.
Do spend your time cultivating “raving fans.”
If you’ve been in business for long, you know that some people are more difficult to please. Spend your time cultivating “raving fans” – those people who have a lot of positive things to say and spread the word with their friends. Consider sharing deals and incentives for social engagement and referrals, or customer appreciation events for your best customers. Spend your time and energy engaging the people that will drive your business forward, and bring the excitement with them.
If you’re a newbie entrepreneur, we’ve got more advice you may want to ignore.
There is a lot of advice out there for small business owners, and every business is unique. The one thing they have in common is the need for insurance. Protect what you have worked hard to build with business insurance. Your Farm Bureau agent can help you find the right level of coverage for your unique needs.