Despite all the difficulties that the world is currently experiencing and the challenges the past few years have brought, small businesses owners and entrepreneurs should actually still be optimistic.
Those who still have their businesses in operation clearly must be doing something right if they’re still open at the start of the year after the many months dealing with lockdowns and pandemic restrictions.
And those who started their businesses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic struck surely chose their business models with the current state of the world in mind. This means they don’t necessarily view it as an obstacle. In fact, it could be the very situation that gave rise to innovation.
So, you're likely excited about what you could accomplish in the new year. But, as a small business owner, you may still want to know exactly how you can build upon the new year's promise to reach new heights in your business.
Let’s highlight some key tips to help you take your business to the next level and achieve your business goals this year.
1. Take your business online/optimize your business website
If you worked exclusively offline last year, it’s fairly likely that you had to add online operation soon enough due to COVID. Taking your business online will need to be your biggest priority this year. After all, we still have no idea when the pandemic will be truly under control, or if foot traffic in business premises and stores will return to anything close to its former level.
Succeeding online requires you to optimize and make your website as good as it can be. Finely-optimized site content will improve your performance in online searches, and using relevant keywords will help to secure prominent positions on search engine results pages.
Moreover, optimized website responsiveness and navigation elements will improve customer experience on both desktop and mobile devices, leading visitors to stick around longer and return later to your site for more.
Keep in mind that having the right website foundation is vital: if your current CMS (content management system) is holding you back, it might be a good time to migrate to something better. This is particularly true if you’re running an ecommerce business, because the gulf between the best and worst platforms is massive and can make all the difference.
With a great CMS, you can easily design a great-looking and well-functioning site. For example, pretty much every Squarespace review will talk about its excellent visuals and templates to speed things along. But if you use a clunky platform, you’ll have a really hard time making your store look anything other than bland and unprofessional.
2. Solicit and learn from customer feedback
The most important thing for a small business is keeping its customers happy. When you don’t have much of a reputation in your niche, you pretty much rise and fall with customer sentiment. Satisfied customers leave glowing reviews and drive relevant referrals to your business. Dissatisfied customers will complain on social media and turn people against you.
Because of that, the changes you make in your business should hinge on what your customers make of what you do or what you’ve done so far. Which parts of your service do they say they love? Which parts tend to frustrate them? Engage them continuously with relevant questions about how you’re doing, and pay close attention to their feedback on how you could improve.
This is something that companies often overlook in their desperation to pitch to prospective customers. But you can’t take your business to the next level if you don’t learn from the past. The more feedback you solicit and get from your customers, the more quickly and easily you’ll be able to improve and build a bussiness that earns rave reviews.
3. Start blogging to nurture customers, build brand reputation
We touched upon the topic of writing content to improve search engine rankings, but that isn’t the only purpose of your content. You also want to build a brand reputation that works to your advantage by getting people to respond positively whenever your business is mentioned.
If you’re going to manage that, it’ll take more than consistently delivering a great customer experience. You’ll also need to demonstrate your expertise through regular blogging and producing high quality content that demonstrates that you know what you’re talking about and have useful insights to offer.
At the same time, you also want to showcase the personality behind your company, making it clear that your brand isn’t a dull and faceless corporate entity. People who encounter your business should know it’s the passion project of a professional, dedicated, and likeable team.
That is why you should start a blog if you don’t already have one, or make business blogging a priority if you do. The events of the last year have made a lot of consumers doubtful of company motivations, and it’ll be tough to get people to invest in you if you’re unable to convey an authentic company culture and brand voice.
Blogging will help you demonstrate your expertise and narture leads into loyal customers that organically spread the world about your business to firends and family.
These are difficult times for small businesses everywhere, but they are also rich with opportunities. If you’re going to be among the business owners who actually thrive this year, make a concerted effort to optimize your business operations and listen to your customers throughout. That way you can take your company to the next level.