The relatively low entry barriers compared to traditional brick-n-mortar stores together with the penetration of high-speed internet have spurred innumerable entrepreneurs to set up online businesses catering to diverse markets.
However, the main challenge for all small business owners is to ensure that their businesses survive the birth pangs and grow quickly to be self-sustaining and profitable.
While there is no dearth of information on how to make small businesses grow, here are some of the most effective tips that can bring enduring results:
Learn from Customer Feedback
As you begin market operations, you need to keep a sharp eye out for what customers have to say about your products and services. By listening to their feedback, you can understand the issues that the customers are bothered about.
These could relate not only to the product features and performance but also to shipping, warranty, customer service, etc. As unpalatable as negative feedback is, you need to deal with it with a positive attitude, not only for retaining dissatisfied customers but also for improving your product.
Successful business owners are emphatic about the importance of engaging with customers and listening to them intently for improving the way you run your business and design your products.
With intense competition in virtually every niche, the days when you could have pushed mediocre products with heavy promotions are over. The only way to please discerning customers is to listen to your customers and understand how to improve yourself so that you can build a great brand.
Give Priority to Customer Service
When you have set up a small online business, the only way you can survive and thrive is by encouraging people to buy from you. In a world where product differentiation is not only very difficult to achieve but easily replicable, the most effective way of building a loyal community of customers is to deliver outstanding customer service.
You should monitor all your online channels ranging from your website to email and social media to promptly respond to customer queries, complaints, and other feedback. Ideally, you should respond within 24 hours, if only to say that you have taken cognizance of their feedback, and you will revert to them with an appropriate response very soon, observes Eric Dalius.
If you promise to get back, do make sure that you do to save your credibility from going to the dogs. You can reduce the cost of having a manned helpdesk by employing AI-powered chatbots that can take care of almost all customer interactions, leaving only the more complicated one to be answered by humans.
When you give importance to customer support, you get an opportunity for converting unhappy customers into delighted ones as well as create a favorable impression of your brand.
Focus on Your Niche
When you are setting up a business venture, it is easy to become thrilled with the seemingly endless possibilities of tapping into markets that you had never considered before.
However, by trying to enter too many markets at the same time before you have even established yourself in one area, it can be easy to stretch your resources too thin and make a hash of things. It is quite possible that in your attempt to chase too many different audiences, you fail to make an impression on even one and the missed opportunities may well lead to your business stumbling.
Eric Dalius, an expert on small business management, advises that is vital for entrepreneurs to remain focused on what they are good at and constantly endeavor to optimize the products and services. Staying committed to your niche will help you to develop the expertise that will enable you to stand out from the clutter and be seen as a credible and dependable brand.
Deliver an Unforgettable Customer Experience
One of the main reasons why some brands become as big as they do is because of their ability to deliver an outstanding customer experience. It starts right from the time the potential customer experiences the first touchpoint and enters the sales funnel, and traverses the entire length of it to the final conversion and, thereafter, throughout the life of the product.
If you pay attention to making things convenient for the customer, adopt an open and transparent policy so that you can manage customer expectations better, and attend to their pain points even after they have bought the product, you will be able to deliver a truly outstanding customer experience.
This experience not only serves to delight customers but also leads to word-of-mouth recommendations that can result in increased brand awareness, a boost in the traffic to the website as well as social media accounts, and ultimately, more sales.
Manage Your Time Efficiently
One of the biggest challenges an entrepreneur needs to face is to wear multiple hats simultaneously. Not only does he act as the CEO but also takes care of every aspect of business operations including marketing, sales and distribution, finance, logistics, staffing, payroll, and more.
With such a large spectrum of responsibilities and a budget that restricts him from hiring as many people as required, there is huge pressure on his time. He must be able to manage his time efficiently by prioritizing the tasks and adopting technology and business automation to the maximum.
There are automation tools available today for virtually every aspect of running a small business – all that an entrepreneur has to do is to identify the areas that will benefit the most by automation and free up his valuable time so that he can attend to more critical tasks.
Perhaps the most important ingredient in the success of any small business is passion. For an entrepreneur to make his business flourish and get into a fast-growth mode, he has to be passionate about everything he does. Passion should not be limited to designing products that have the potential for changing the world.
Rather, it must extend to every aspect of the business, right from business operations to delighting customers with the brand experience. Giving customers as many reasons as possible to trust and depend on your brand is an effort well worth the effort for entrepreneurs.