As a small business owner, you're probably juggling many things. From accounting and finance to sales and marketing, the day-to-day tasks can feel relentless and exhausting. To keep you focused and functioning, we've got some tried and tested top business hacks to help you streamline, automate and market your small business:
Automate where possible
As a small business owner, there's always something to do. Whether it's marketing, purchasing, finances or customer support, the list is endless. Because technology is so efficient and affordable these days, automating can be a huge time-saver. It's knowing when and what to automate that can be a bit of a challenge.
Say you run an online business and you're manually entering your orders from one system into another. Opting to automate this process will save you a good chunk of time and potentially reduce errors. Our world is more connected than ever and there are endless tools that can help you automate tasks across your personal and professional life.
Invest in understanding your customers
Regardless of whether you run a gym, cafe or a boutique business – without customers – there is no business at all. With more and more competition popping up in both the online and offline worlds, taking the time to understand your customers is the key to longevity. Businesses of all shapes and sizes need to evolve and having conviction in which steps to take next comes from understanding your customers. Getting to know what your customers want dsn't need to cost the earth, it could be something as simple as a short survey or incentivising feedback after a job.
Invest in branding
Many years ago, branding was something that only huge companies could afford. Thanks to the digital age and modern marketing, small and micro-businesses can now invest in building a brand. With design marketplaces like 99designs offering affordable branding packages or access to DIY design options like Canva, there's plenty of opportunities to make your small business memorable. Where branding used to be mostly about your logo, these days it's about so much more. When investing in small business branding, think about what your business stands for and who your customers are as well as the look and feel for customers connecting with your product/service.
Invest in bookkeeping
At the heart of any business is cash-flow. Get it right and you've got a recipe for success, get it wrong, however, and you've got problems. There's no point in doing the work or making the sale if you don't have the time to invoice your customers. So if you do find yourself in a position where you're always playing catch-up with your books, it may be time to invest in a bookkeeper. Investing in bookkeeping gives you more time to focus on the things that will grow your business and less time on the nitty gritty. If you're struggling to reconcile records, there's going to be less time for you to build up sales, marketing, strategy, purchasing and execution. An experienced bookkeeper can help your small business through all stages of growth, but because they're essentially an extension of your business, it pays to hire the right one.
Invest in your employees
As Richard Branson put it 'customers come second, employees first.' While your business or bank balance dsn't need to as big as Richard Branson's, the philosophy applies to everyone and anyone. Employees who are motivated and engaged are more likely to do a good job. Micromanaging employees, overlooking their efforts and not giving them a forum to grow and learn will ultimately lead to an unhappy workforce which will inevitably affect your bottom line as well as your customers.
Take the time to invest in your employees and create a sense of loyalty and teamwork. No matter how big your team is – give your employees the tools and skills they need to do a good job. Employees that have pride in what they do are ultimately more motivated.
Explore your online potential
With competition everywhere, finding smart and strategic ways to market your small business has never been more critical. Start by taking the time to explore your online potential and digital marketing options. Google has recently made some significant changes in the area of local search. Small businesses with local reach are in a great position to use blogging and basic digital marketing to keep their local business visible in the search results.
Local businesses wanting to run small online advertising campaigns can use their local reach to their advantage. With Facebook and Google allowing businesses to tailor their online advertising campaigns to specific suburbs, demographics and budgets, small businesses can implement hyperlocal and grow their local reach.
Taking current trends into account and the fact that mobile traffic has overtaken desktop search traffic, make sure your strategy is optimised for mobile and your website optimised to function on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
As a small business, realistically it's not feasible to try to compete in every aspect of digital marketing. It is however, crucial that you do your research and pick a few key areas to focus on - the idea is to amplify the existing strengths of your business.
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