So, you're thinking of starting a small business, or maybe you already have, but you're not sure what you need in order to become successful—that is, in order for your business to become profitable over time. We're here to help. Here are 5 things every small business needs:
Of course, in order to run a business you need the proper materials. If you're opening a pizza joint, for example, you'll need to rent space, buy ingredients, ovens and phones, as well as pay for electricity, internet and phone service every month. You need to save as much as you can and apply for loans and grants in order to fund you small business. You could also seek the help of investors, promising to repay them a percentage of profits, but that's a matter of personal preference. Just as large businesses do, and just as you probably do in your personal life, budgeting is key. Make sure you think ahead of everything you need, get it in writing, and plan accordingly. This is the best way to make sure that you don’t get ahead of yourself.
2. A Target Market
When you first get an idea for a unique product or service, you might think that anyone would be interested in buying it, but the truth is that you have to find a target audience at whom to advertise. Think: Which age group, gender and generation would be most interested your services? Conducting surveys and getting third-party opinions can help with this process. You may have just one target market (concentrated market) or you could have a few niche markets (differentiated market), which is less risky, but either way, you have to have someone in mind so that you can advertise to them more effectively. Remember, as your business grows and adapts, your target market can change. Make sure to revisit your target market every now and then to make sure this group of people is still the one that will benefit most from your product/ service.
3. A Business Strategy
The most successful businesses become successes because they had developed plans, both short- and long-term. Consider your goals and think of what you have to do in order to achieve them. When building your business strategy, you also have to be realistic and flexible. It doesn't make sense to assume that you'll see a large profit in your first year, since most businesses aren't profitable until their third or fourth year. Likewise, you should also realize that your plan may need to change over time, based on differences between your expectations and your actual results, so plan to adapt when necessary.
4. Excellent Customer Service
You may have an amazing product, but if your customer service isn't up to par, then you're going to lose customers. Think about what makes you come back to small businesses. We’re willing to bet that the way you were treated has a lot to do with it. Make sure your employees understand the importance of customer service to the success of your business and train them accordingly. Express gratitude, admit fault, reward loyal customers—do things that would make new customers want to become loyal ones. It's been proven, through the mere existence of so-called luxury products and services, that customers are willing to pay more money and go out of their way to get a better quality product and better service. This means that not only will you gain and keep more customers with excellent customer service, but that you may also be able to increase your prices over time if your service remains consistent.
5. A Social Media Marketing Team
For small businesses, social media marketing is so important. Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on TV commercials and billboard ads, you can work with a social media marketing team to interact with your customers on their favorite social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, for a fraction of the cost. Your social media marketing team—whether they be in-house or through an agency—can spread product awareness, gain customer interest, make it easier for your customers to purchase your product (through direct links to specials and your website), and then listen for customer feedback to see what your company is doing right and wrong. To learn more about how to social media marketing can improve your business, visit us online at www.SocialCentiv.com. Our passion is helping small businesses like yours grow.