The United States loves small businesses – it’s official!
Why is this? Well, small businesses are seen as a positive influence “on the way things are going in this country.” But it’s more than that.
Small businesses are the “heartbeat” of creating value. Either through customer experiences, products, or services. This will be my value added proposition to your company in the form of 10 points… that I believe will be the most useful in establishing integrity, community engagement and a high level of customer service. When was the last time you called a small business and got put through to an automated call center? These seemingly small things come together to create a hugely competitive value proposition – and are the lynchpin of your brand.
1. Determine who needs or wants the product or service you offer.
Identify your target audience and develop ways to engage and interact with them. Ask yourself the questions to narrow down your prospective customer base.
The narrower the definition, the more successful you will be. And don’t stop with identifying your customer, but work to build a relationship and deliver a product/service for which they come back repeatedly. Retaining customers is equally as important as attracting new ones. So ask their opinion on your product/service via printed or online surveys or through conversations.
2. Make your customers/clients comfortable with you.
They need to have a sense that you’ll be creditable and competent. If you don’t meet this standard they’re not going to want to go any further with you. The art of the sale is not a matter of convincing people to buy what you have; it’s finding what hefty want and your ability to deliver.
3. Leverage social media and e-mail marketing.
Social media and e-mail marketing are important tools as a part of an overall balanced media mix for any type of business. It takes you where your customers are. Neither are magic pills, but intelligently and diligently capturing customer data and maintaining a database is a good way to build a foundation for e-mail campaigns. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are good ways to build a client/fan base, as well as engage existing customers. To be effective, however, it must be continually monitored and updated as well as organic in it’s approach.
4. Know what online resources are available to help you go global.
Find that outlet online that will allow you to plug your product or service into the global market either commercially or government sources. The key service elements that you should be looking for to assist your global expansion platform are market research, trade events, leads, and information on how to export. The Export-Import Bank of the United States provides export financing by assuming credit and country risk. Also, study the topic, Doing business anywhere: The essential Guide to Going Global by Tom Travis may serve as a step by step guide in this arena.
5. Secure capital in this economic climate.
Small business owners are always on the hunt for sources of capital and guidance on how to secure it. Whether hunting for venture capital or an angle investor, you need to have a solid plan in place to reach both types of investor. Know the ins and outs of your business and have at least an executive summary and have a thorough understanding of your business, your competitors, and be able to speak to your unique selling proposition. Build relationships with community banks and always follow the money. Position your company to meet the needs of those industries and sections with business opportunities on the horizon.
6. Develop strategic alliances.
Contractual or information agreements to work together with another entity afford small businesses the opportunity to, “Play with the big boys”, literally. Partnering to form a much larger business allows you to go after much larger contracts-with beneficial gains for both parties. Of course, the objective is to collaborate with someone who can supplement your own capacity.
7. Choose the proper system
If you are starting looking to start a business and you desire a systematic approach them consider franchising or private franchising (more commonly known as home based business). A franchise system provides ongoing support in marketing/advertising, training, and education. The emphasis is on marketing and advertising because while a franchisee can gain financing to stay in business, he or she will fail if potential customers don’t know that the business exists. The ideal franchise situation should provide additional training and support, an education on how to connect with people in your respective city, and how to access business resources in their community. They also help business owners learn about tax breaks and tax credits available.
8. Know your business credit score.
A common mistake new business owners make when seeking small business capital is failing to establish business credit separate from personal credit. Most lenders will not finance your business without a business credit history. Start by establishing bank accounts and securing business credit cards to be used exclusively for your business. Before moving to secure your business loan from a small bank, consider establishing lines of credit with your vendors. Ensure that all sources of business credit are reporting your payment history to the Small Business Financial Exchange. The purpose of this third party entity is to report to all of the business credit agencies on your behalf.
9. Create your own opportunities.
Entrepreneurs need to be a bit more creative and solution- oriented in today’s challenging market place if they want to acquire new customers. Now is the perfect time for idea generation. Target those sectors and industries that are most promising for growth as you utilize government resources to gain that competitive edge!
10. Rethink business
There’s no cookie cutter formula for finding the right balance of time and resources when it comes to focusing on improving your leadership skills, so every entrepreneur will have to determine what works best for them. But particularly when business conditions are poor and competition is fiercer than ever, it’s clear that the old rules of business are outdated. So be prepared to reinvent yourself and the organization. Read books, listen to audios, and commit yourself to daily growth.