Entrepreneurs, need a boost? Try these six tips.
What’s the secret to building your own business? The short answer is there is no magic bullet. Rather success (or failure) hinges on numerous factors.
You’ve done your homework, evaluated your own strengths and weaknesses and found the industry that’s right for you. You’ve raised the capital, made the investment and hired the employees. You’ve opened your doors.
Here are some tips and techniques to take your enterprise to the next level:
1. Continually improve
Build your own business by building your skills. Make sure you know basic business acumen: how to read a balance sheet, how to create a financial statement, how to hire good employees and how to manage cash flow. If you don’t have these skills, or you could use a boost, take courses at your local college, continuing education center or online. A great online resource is Lynda, which is often available for free through your local library. Ask around!
2. Have a business plan
Write down your goals for sales, cash flow, debt and profits. Learn your market and do a financial projection. Decide where and how often to advertise. Plan, plan, plan!
3. Have a marketing plan
Marketing and promotion are essential to build your own business. Research opportunities to get the word out about your company. This can include ads in local media, giveaways at your location, sponsorship of Little League teams and many other opportunities.
4. Don’t forget social media
Social media is an increasingly important part of building brand recognition and driving sales. Make sure you incorporate a social media presence into your overall marketing plan. Define a message you want to promote on social media, and make sure your customers—and potential customers—can find you easily on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat (for younger audiences) and LinkedIn. And keep monitoring other social media platforms. It’s not hard to have a presence on any social medium, but you have to make sure it’s up to date.
5. Know your industry
It never hurts to know what the competition is doing. Join industry and local associations and read the websites and publications. Stay on top of developments so they don’t take you by surprise.
6. Focus on your customers
Ask for customer feedback and respond to it in a timely fashion, in every way possible—social media, surveys, contests and giveaways, and good, old-fashioned talking to people. Provide pricing incentives to encourage repeat business and referrals to new customers.
To promote your small business, try these three tools
Keeping your business relevant online can be one of the more challenging and costly ways to attract a new audience, but it’s also one of the best and most effective. Transitioning your budget from traditional advertising to new digital platforms and channels can be difficult to navigate. Consider these three steps to be your compass:
Keep your website relevant
This one’s a freebie — your website. If you have a website for your business (and really, by now you absolutely should), it’s worth restating how critical it is to always have your website up to date on promotions, shareable links and more. Make certain you’re connecting the website to any social media channels. This way if you’re promoting a special on Facebook for example, customers can easily reach — and share — the information, while linking back to your website.
Take advantage of online directories
Most small businesses overlook getting listed on online directories; however, what they don’t realize is that these directories are often one of the first places people come to when seeking referrals and references for services. Make it a point to ensure your business is listed on as many relevant online directories as possible. And if you’re promoting events, list them on national sites like Ticketfly as well as local online newspapers and websites.
Maximize email marketing
Most marketing plans in this day and age include email-marketing campaigns. It’s one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to reach consumers without being invasive. Look into sites like MailChimp that have free components and let you build your own template. They also have features that will better help your company sell and connect with current consumers. Just keep in mind to use the right strategy for your target demographic and audience.
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