Business isn’t always easy and there are a number of problems that many end up facing, whether it’s down to their digital marketing, planning or perhaps something finance related.
Small businesses are usually more susceptible to these problems than larger ones, but I believe that, at the same time, they’re also in a far better position to get things moving forward by making the right decisions more quickly, with less internal politics and a better chance of getting employees on board with a unique business vision more easily.
In this post I will show you five important factors that will positively affect your business in a big way, and I’m here to tell you that there is always a way to get your business to where you want it to be.
1. Your vision
John Naisbitt once said: “Strategic planning is worthless – unless there is first a strategic vision”.
And I agree; if you don’t have a vision for your business, then it’s impossible to get your employees on board with your vision – after all, there’s no vision to get on board with, is there?
Ask yourself: what do I want for my business? Where do I want it to be in five or ten years?
Most importantly, take heed of John Naisbitt’s wise words and make sure you decide on what your vision for your business is, before you move on to developing a business plan.
2. Your plan
There is a quote that I read a good while ago that I have come to really believe in over the years: “To be prepared is half the victory”.
Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish novelist quoted above, isn’t usually the type of person that is name checked in blog posts about business, but it fits and – more importantly – it’s true.
If you don’t put a plan together, then your business is going to be in big trouble; more importantly, as things change in your business over time, you need to keep that plan updated.
It may seem quite trivial, and putting together a business plan is something that many small business owners sometimes skip over rather quickly, but it’s important to get in as much detail and include as many contingencies as possible.
You never know what is round the corner, but with a detailed plan you should get past any roadblocks.
3. Control your costs
More than 50% of small businesses don’t manage to get past the two-year mark. That can be for a number of reasons, but one of the main causes usually ends up being money.
The immediate response to an unhealthy bank balance, or profit and loss sheet, is often to dig further into an overdraft, seek an investor or arrange a loan.
While in certain circumstances these may be options that you need to consider, there are actually a lot of different ways to cut business costs. Taken individually, they don’t look like they’re likely to help all that much, but if you add them together, they can make a significant difference.
4. SEO and Google updates
As Eric Siu mentioned in a post on Search Engine Journal last year; “Inbound leads cost 61% lower than outbound leads. An example of an inbound lead might be from search engine optimization. An outbound lead might be from a cold call.”
Eric’s comment is just one of many reasons why you need to think about SEO, and a huge number of websites have been using SEO as a way to generate a great number of leads.
It’s a huge topic, but Moz have a great guide to SEO that will give you all the basics to get you started. If this is something that you just don’t have time for, you do have a few options:
- Outsource the work to a marketing agency
- Hire an SEO manager
- Get an existing member of staff to train up
You also need to be aware that the way that search engines like Google rank websites has changed a lot over the last few years, and Google continues to release updates in an effort to get rid of spam in its search results.
So you need to be confident that whoever ends up working on your SEO understands what tactics should be avoided and which will get results.
5. Managing your reputation online
The more your customer base grows, the more chance there is, unfortunately, for customers to receive bad service and then go to their favourite social networking site and tell all of their friends.
It doesn’t usually work that way when you have a happy customer, they hardly tell anyone at all!
When they have a bad experience, however, that’s when things change, because, as we all know, people love to have a moan and social media is a great platform for them to do it on.
So it’s extremely important to monitor and manage the online reputation of your business.
You need to start off with keeping an eye on who is saying what about your business, and there are a few tools to help you:
- Google Alerts – this will allow you to set up alerts within Google using your brand name or any other keywords. You’ll then be able to setup email notifications and be in a position to react very quickly to customers.
- SocialMention – this works differently to Google Alerts in that it allows you to search for mentions of your brand within social media sites on the spot.
Similarly, it’s just as important to monitor for positive mentions of your business, as it gives you the opportunity to reach out to your customers, thank them and build a rapport. That approach can often turn someone from a happy customer into a loyal customer.
Business can sometimes be a struggle, but there’s always another way to do something, another way to help your business achieve its vision or another way to improve cash flow and ultimately get your business to where you want it to be.
Which obstacles has your business faced? Have you managed to get around them?
We would really like to hear more about it in the comments.