Tips to Build a Winning Small Business Strategy
No small business owner ever said, I’d love to have a small business that just gets by and has no future. No matter your goals, be they lofty or humble, it’s important to have a business strategy to help you get there. Developing a winning business strategy takes time, research and commitment, but is done every day in a few easy steps. Let’s explore some of the moves small businesses are making to ensure the success of their business strategy in 2021.
1. Develop a true company vision
Author Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Your company vision should reflect both where you came from, and where you hope to be in the future. Customers should be able to see your values and goals, and employees appreciate the transparency of knowing where the business is headed. Revamp your mission statement for 2021, addressing your plans for the future, and rethink how you interact with and what you want from your customers, market and profits.
2. Define competitive advantage
There is always a competitive advantage if you take the time to figure out what it is. Your strategy should detail how you can deliver a unique product and experience to your customers, and should carefully analyze how you can shift things like pricing, delivery, services or partnerships to better take advantage of your strengths. If your strengths lie in technology, consider leveraging this strength to offer more cutting-edge products, or develop an app to help customers better interact with your business. Don’t get stuck in the rut of “sameness” that many small businesses are unable to escape. Set yourself apart from the crowd by carefully identifying and making use of your competitive advantages.
3. Define your targets
Your goals should not be pie-in-the-sky or a point-and-spray operation. If you don’t have clear targets and goals, you are shooting at the moon and hoping to hit the sun. Take some time to clearly define actionable and realistic goals and targets for the upcoming year, and set out processes to make them happen. It’s time to think about your future, and then break it down to make your plan easier to implement. In addition, employees will appreciate knowing what their clearly defined targets are, and can work more independently to achieve them.
4. Focus on systematic growth
It’s rare a small business suddenly takes off into the stratosphere without any warning or planning. Most small businesses who have encountered this enviable problem have failed in the aftermath, as they failed to plan for systematic growth. First, determine where you are weakest and fortify that area of the business. For example, plan to first upgrade your IT capabilities to support increased business. Then invest in a social media strategy to create word of mouth and boost online sales. Following a careful, systematic process will ensure you are prepared for growth, and have clear goals and plans in mind for the future of your business. Update your safety culture standards, to show employees you are committed to sustainable and systematic growth of both the business and those who work for you.
5. Analyze your competition
Looking closely at your competition can tell you a lot about what you are doing right and wrong. We can learn a great deal from others' failure and success, so subscribe to your competitors' channels, follow them on social media and check out their marketing campaigns. You might find that they are succeeding where you might have failed, or that they have new and creative ideas for reaching or engaging customers. Some small businesses have even teamed up to execute a new business strategy, and helped each other grow and prosper. This step will take time, but is an easy way to explore your options with no initial financial investment. Perform a competitive analysis of your market space to see where to start.
6. Learn from your customers
Customers are your greatest source of actionable information. You know everything about your company, and they know everything about how much consumers like your product. Create an outreach program using social media or e-mail to reach your customers, and ask them directly what you could be doing better, or what they like about your company or product. Once you’ve reached your customer base, it’s important to take their advice to heart, and then thank them in some way for their input. When customers see that you appreciate them and their needs, they will certainly continue to use your product or service, and could potentially be great brand advocates.
7. Provide great service
Small businesses won’t succeed unless it puts customers first. Prioritize social media communication and response to questions or comments, and respond to emails and inquiries within 24 hours of first contact. Take the information you get from customers, and determine where you can invest to provide better services. For example, if you find your delivery services are lack-luster, consider offering customers access to useful tools like a USPS Shipping Calculator, or deploy shipping software to automate the shipping process.
Starting a small business is hard, and keeping it profitable is even harder. To be successful you must employ analytical thinking, an excellent organizational strategy, and work harder than you worked when you had a boss. Focusing on these tips is proven to give you an advantage over the competition, and thus keep customers satisfied and loyal.