Starting a small business can be a daunting task that requires a lot of time and preparation. Unfortunately, many businesses fail due to poor marketing or financial problems. However, minimise these risks and step confidently into the market by following five of our best tips on starting and managing your small business.
Conduct market research
Conducting market research is important for establishing any business, but particularly so for small business owners, who are less likely to have as many resources as large corporations. This is why it’s important to frequently conduct research into the market and customers you are appealing to stay updated on the current demand for your product or service.
Another important component of market research is your competitors. Stay informed on what other businesses in the same market are doing, and use the information you find out to evaluate your own business and differentiate yourself from the competition.
If you are setting up a small business for the first time, here are some other questions you might want to consider:
- How big is your potential market, and how might it change in the future?
- How will your service offering affect the competition you have?
- How much are customers willing to pay for your product or service?
Stay focused on your niche
In order to stand out as a small business, you should focus on a small and specific niche so you can differentiate yourself from your competition. This way, not only can market yourself to your target audience much easier, but you can also become more memorable to your customers because of your product differentiation. Starting a new business venture is very exciting and you may want to enter multiple markets, but remember that you may spread yourself too thin and miss out on opportunities to capture a more specific and engaged audience.
While it may sound tempting to market to the masses in order to make your brand more known, remember that this is more suitable for large corporations. It’s always better for smaller, creative businesses like yourself to focus on marketing to a smaller audience so that you can stand out more from your competition.
Stay connected to your customers
One of the biggest factors in customer loyalty and satisfaction is the customer experience. That’s why it’s important to prioritise customer support and communicate frequently with your customers to keep them engaged, both of which can create more brand awareness and good word of mouth.
Remember that having good customer support is an opportunity for you to change unhappy customers into happy and therefore loyal ones. Not only does this improve your brand reputation and image, but it’s also a great way to remind your customer of your brand promise. For example, prompt email and social media responses to any queries or issues makes the customer experience more pleasant and seamless, and more importantly, it’s a sign to your customers that you care, so definitely try to deliver on this!
Communicating with your customers frequently through email or social media channels also increases their awareness of your company. Think of it as a form of digital marketing: by reminding your customers of your brand and engaging with them, they will feel valued, be more likely to remember you and so buy from you. The personal touch is something that large corporations cannot provide, so it’s therefore one of your best methods of differentiation.
Consider omnichannel strategies
An omnichannel strategy involves providing your customers with access to your business through many channels and platforms, such as social media, email, live chatting or text messages. Going online is becoming increasingly popular among customers nowadays because of the convenience and experiences online businesses can provide to them, so it’s useful to consider an omnichannel approach to better connect with your customers while maximising your sales through different channels.
An additional benefit to adopting an omnichannel strategy is that you can monitor each channel to gather information about your customers and enhance your marketing strategy as needed, allowing you to bring in even more customers.
Understand your financial options
As a small business, you are likely to have more limited funds, and so it’s vital that you have a good understanding of your finances in order to make your business sustainable. It’s also a good idea to research financial support options to reinvigorate your business if you feel like you are struggling, like the funding options your government provides.
Cashflow issues are one of the most common reasons for small business failure. If unpaid invoices are hindering your finances, and getting paid faster would help your cashflow, a good option to explore is invoicing financing, which helps to unlock capital in unpaid invoices so that you can focus on running your business. There are many benefits to invoice financing, and you can sign up to a service like Zetl to discuss funding opportunities for your business.