Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What Your Small Business Needs to Keep Up With Competition

English: Findlay, Ohio, September 20, 2007 -- ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With a high rate of failure within the first five years of business, it's important that business owners take the necessary steps to keep up with competition to survive. 

Successful businesses think outside the box and find ways to keep customers engaged and coming back. Focus on these basic strategies to help you survive, and thrive.

Use the Internet

Everybody is online, including most of your customers. Smart business owners make maximum use of the internet. Google Analytics tracks and analyzes your web traffic. Create your website in an afternoon with Wix if you need a time-saving solution for creating your site. 

You should also have social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest to find more customers and keep them engaged and update. If customers cannot find you on the internet, they may not find you at all.

Create an Advisory Board

Whatever your business and your knowledge, there's always someone that may know a little more and can help. Recruit some people with a variety of experience and ask them to serve on your advisory board. 

Meet virtually, so you are not limited to people in your area. Make the meetings substantive, and don't give board members an excuse not to participate. Listen to their advice. Get that talent and experience available even one hour per month, and you are a big step ahead. 

Know Your Competitors

You can’t get ahead of your competitors if you don’t know who they are. Identify your direct competitors, and predict every move they make. Don’t forget indirect competitors. Many small businesses have multiple lines of products and services. 

Follow them on social media and stay up-to-date on new things they are doing in the industry. This will help you to find ways to stand out amongst your competition. If you are exactly like another business, why would consumers chose you over them? By studying your competition, you can find ways to be more unique in the field. 

Know Your Customers

Talk to them, and ask what they like and need. Ask their opinion about your new products. Include survey links with online orders. Even negative feedback helps you make your business better. 

If you don't know what your customers like and dislike, you are losing out on their business. Aside from surveys, pay close attention to what they are saying on social media. Comments on your posts, pictures and videos can tell you a lot about how they feel about your company and products. 

Manage Your Cash

This seems pretty basic. Many business owners focus on profit. You can’t pay utilities and meet payroll with profit. If you can’t afford to stock what you need to make your business work, customers won’t take you seriously. 

You will need to make sure you have a supply of the basics such as credit card paper rolls, business cards, advertising leaflets and order forms. Without these simple items, your business can really suffer from missed opportunities and frustrated customers. 

Have a Higher Purpose

You’re in business to make money, but make your business more financial gains. Customers will pay a premium to support a good cause. Don’t do your good works in the dark. If you’re contributing 15% of sales every Wednesday to the Little League, tell your customers and the baseball fans. Don’t use a gimmick. Customers recognize that right away. Identify how your business can contribute to a cause you care about.

Making sure that you are doing the basics is only the first step to growing a successful business. Be sure to keep up with industry news and find ways to make your business more unique to stand out amongst competition.

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