Running a small business is no easy feat. According to research shared by the U.S. Small Business Administration, about 1 in 12 small businesses close every year.
However, while the numbers can be a little depressing, small business success is achievable if you follow some important steps. Below, we have a list of four qualities successful businesses have in common.
Excellent Customer Service
First and foremost, you won’t stay in business long without loyal customers. Today consumers have very high expectations when it comes to customer service, whether that is in the form of fast shipping times, ease of communicating with a customer service representative, efficient restaurant service, or an extra personalized touch. To stay successful, ensure that you have a plan in place to provide great customer service. Depending on your business, there are different ways employees may be interacting with customers. Have training in place to help employees work through potential conflicts, or offer training on improving communication skills so employees feel comfortable making personal connections.
For online businesses and remote teams, providing excellent customer service can include responding quickly to social media inquiries or having somebody available to chat on your website. It could also include a personalized note when shipping an item. By providing excellent customer service, you can create lifelong customers and in return get them to positively review your business online or refer friends your way.
A Positive Company Culture
In addition to a loyal customer base, you want a strong team of employees to help drive business success. Having a strong company culture will help you attract and retain talent at your business. When you have engaged employees, it means you have employees who are dedicated to your business and feel the work they do for your business is meaningful. High levels of engagement should lead to higher sales and crushing business goals because employees are reaching for success. Additionally, consumers will want to support businesses that treat their employees well. People love stories about companies supporting their employees, such as Airbnb encouraging employees to travel by providing travel stipends, or Patagonia prioritizing time off to vote.
Strong Marketing Strategy
You may have the best product or service in your area or a unique company story, but without proper marketing, nobody is going to hear about it. Sometimes when people hear marketing, they get nervous thinking that it’s going to be really expensive. In some cases, marketing can require a lot of dollars to get significant results, but there are also some pretty low-cost things you can do to deliver marketing results. First, your small business needs a digital presence. Today almost everyone has a smartphone and often times they are searching from their phone over a desktop or laptop. Make sure you have a website that looks nice, and also, works properly on mobile. Next, it’s important to follow SEO recommendations to ensure that your business is popping up in search engines. While this may be a bit of a learning curve for business owners, there are plenty of resources online to help you out. Another component of your digital marketing strategy is a presence on social media. As previously mentioned, social media should be a part of your customer service experience, but for marketing purposes, you’ll want a variety of engaging posts about your product or service. Additionally, since people are more likely to trust recommendations from friends and family, it’s helpful if you can populate your accounts with user-generated content, meaning actual customers engaging with your business.
The Ability to Adapt
Going through the COVID-19 pandemic taught everyone that pivoting and adapting to a new situation was necessary. This pivoting includes small business owners as well. From state and federal legislation on business closings, how businesses could re-open, increased shipping times, and more, it was a challenging time for business owners. Outside of major business interruptions like a pandemic or natural disaster, there may come a time where your business has to pivot a little and try new things. Whether that’s expanding a product or service offering, launching something completely new, or just changing with new technology, changing direction is crucial for small business success. Using the COVID-19 example, some small business owners had to learn how to offer outdooring dining for their restaurant or increase takeout/delivery options, or launch a way to fulfill online orders for retail with curbside pickup.
Running a small business can be unpredictable and challenging, but with a strong support system and some key business practices in place, success is possible. Thankfully, if you’re ever feeling stuck, there are always plenty of resources for implementing successful practices in your business, and you can always reach out to your network for help as well.