5 Tips to Get Your Small Business Off to a Great Start in 2018
Does it seem like your small business is on a never-ending conveyor belt, or some kind of Sisyphean treadmill? You feel like you are taking the right steps, and keep plugging away at your growth goals with everything you have, but never really seem to get anywhere. The outcome is the result of faulty thinking. If you consistently go with the premise that doing the same things more efficiently will provide better results, you need to take a step back and reconsider where you want to go this year.
Perhaps you are comfortable with how you are running your business now, or think there really is nothing you can do differently, but it’s time to open your mind a bit and just consider some new possibilities. Take a look at these five tips and trends to see if implementing any or all of these ideas could have a big impact on your small business in 2018:
1. Create a unified experience: Some small businesses are better at the in-person part of the sales experience. They have a great store, nice displays, or wonderful one-to-one service. Other enterprises might be better at the online part of the experience. They make it easy to find their business, offer a steady stream of helpful ideas, and engage in conversations with prospects and clients. The trick in 2018 will be to bring these two concepts closer together so that they create one unified experience for customers. In-store will have to resemble the online experience, and online will need to bring more of the personal touch.
2. Think younger: There are very few businesses which cater solely to an older audience. If yours is one of them, you might have a certain marketing or operating style that works well for your demographic. But other businesses need to be aware of the changes in the demographic landscape. The uptick of the Millennials, both as a social and economic force, will have impacts on businesses of all types for the next decade. Have a marketing plan in place that communicates directly to this target audience, and be sure you are speaking their language. If you don’t know what is on their minds, ask them, or bring in somebody who can advise you about how they act. It never hurts to look at things from a different perspective.
3. Respond faster: The world is moving at a much quicker pace than you might ever have thought possible, and you need to keep pace with it or be left behind. Your online presence must be able to work flawlessly in a mobile world where your clientele is likely to pull out a smartphone at any second to ask a question, search for information or make a purchase. You need to be available on social media channels for them to be able to ask questions, and receive instant answers. And you need to monitor review sites so that you can quickly respond to and repair any negative experiences. All of this will require a much higher level of readiness and monitoring.
4. Make it easier to pay you: The old, cash-based style of conducting business is rapidly disappearing. Your business needs to be able to accept payments from customers when they are ready to buy in the way they want to pay you. Study up on ways to let customers swipe their phones, or look at options like Apple Pay, Square and QuickBooks GoPayment to open yourself up to the possibility of digital transactions.
5. Plan for the best, be prepared for the worst: 2017 was unfortunately the year that showed the need for crisis planning. Even the smallest, one-person business can be disrupted by a natural disaster or unforeseen event. Have a plan in place to back up your customer lists, communication strategies and important documents so your business can survive the toughest of times.
The best way for your small business to get ahead in 2018 is by not just resting on your laurels. Take initiative and bold actions to make your business better than ever.