As small business owners and entrepreneurs, we are constantly scouting for new ways to expand our businesses and increase the bottom line. There are so many tools and methodologies, that it can sometimes appear a bit of a minefield and we don’t know where to start! In recognition of Entrepreneur’s Day this week, we’ve outlined a few below:
- Think about e-commerce
With the great strides technology has made these past few years, many entrepreneurs and small business owners have identified e-commerce as the new sales frontier, and readily employ digital adverts, direct mail, email campaigns, SEO, and sponsored ads to reach a vast online audience. It generates fantastic results, especially for small business owners and entrepreneurs, as it allows you to access a global audience with your products or message at a very small cost.
This trend is set to continue with exponential growth in 2018, largely thanks to disruptive smartphone technology that lets you shop/book/enquire on the go. Just bear in mind that you can’t rely solely on an online store. A website should only supplement the sales of your brick and mortar shop or office.
While the internet isn’t a guarantee you’ll upstage large established companies (they have inventory, marketing, and delivery systems in place), it will give you a large audience globally and allow customers to access your information every day, every hour, every time.
- The Power of Referrals and Social Responsibility
One of the most powerful sales tools is word of mouth. Most people will trust a brand that is recommended by a friend. In order to get the word out about your business, you should engage the surrounding community and create local partnerships. Get involved in the affairs of the neighbourhood. Once in a while, help people alleviate some of their problems – think about your social responsibility (check out last week’s post on acts of kindness). As time passes, people will trust you, and if they trust you, they’ll give you business. As Warren Buffett says, if you don’t know jewellery, know the jeweller, i.e. when people don’t much about a product or service, if they find you trustworthy enough, they’ll turn to you for counsel.
Therefore, don’t let opportunities to engage with the community slide as such exposure is likely to help your business thrive.
- Don’t be afraid of mistakes
Many entrepreneurs are afraid of making mistakes, and that stalls progress and innovation. The truth is that making mistakes isn’t failing – it is part of the process of growth. As you keep introducing new products and services, employ new technologies to improve your sales strategy and identify the primary performance indicators to show the impact these new strategies and technologies are having on the customer and business. Good news if the new strategy or technology works, but if it doesn’t work, congratulations still – you learnt something. Making mistakes allows you to refine the approach and try another time.
- If you don’t take change by the hand, change will take you by the neck…
One of the biggest problems in the entrepreneurial world is what is called cognitive inertia. Cognitive inertia is where individuals keep using outdated and obsolete methods to do something when a newer, cheaper, and more efficient way is available. A lot of us are reluctant to be in step with technology, but why do we fail to modernize? Mostly it is because we are so engrossed in the management and operations of the business that we don’t have enough time to search for new ways of doing things.
If you knew how important it is as a business owner to be in step with technological breakthroughs, you’d devote much more time to learning about technologies that streamline processes and automate tasks and that, consequently, help to save time and cut operational costs – allowing you to focus on what is important.
- Get a coach
It might seem like a strange suggestion, or an unnecessary commitment, but if you intend your business to upstage the more established businesses, then you need to act a little differently, so get yourself a business coach.
With the help of a coach, you can navigate through the hurdles of starting and managing a business. Look for a trusted individual, preferably from the niche you intend to venture into.
A coach will almost certainly give you a whole host of new tips to get you to the next stage of business development, but hopefully these will go someway to help you get started.