Congratulations are in order! You have crossed the threshold from startup to small business, and now you are looking strategically into the future because you want to take your venture to the next level! Below are five indispensable tips to help you become a force to be reckoned with in your industry:
- Outsource, Outsource, Outsource
You have most likely come face to face with the hard fact that you can’t do everything well, and that the experts cost a lot of money. Now is the time to identify essential functions that require expert level help when you can’t quite afford the full-time expert’s paycheck. One function that offers an incredible amount of value for your dollar is small business IT support. Outsourcing your IT can give you access to the latest technology and software, high level IT security, printing solutions and a team who proactively monitors and manages your hardware. In addition to all these features, you have only one monthly invoice.
- Automate This!
As you review your business for possible functions to outsource, it is a good time for a strategic review of your processes. Are there functions that you can automate in order to save time, resources and money to free up your staff for more productive tasks? The internet age and the advent of cloud computing has led to the creation of a multitude of open-source tools that can streamline your business. Everything from bookkeeping and invoicing, CRMs and cloud based freight management systems are readily available and can usually be tailored to meet your company’s requirements and budget.
- Check-In with your Customers
Whatever your product or service, you most likely have a loyal customer base. If you want to take your business to the next level, you need to understand what makes these customers loyal, so that you can more effectively target similar consumers. Take the time to send an email, make a phone call or pull together a focus group, offering a freebie, or branded corporate gift of some sort to thank them for their time. These actions will both show your customer base that you value them as well as help you better understand your product and positioning.
- Create Customer Loyalty Programs
While you are working to understand your customer base, it’s time to think about how to reward them regularly. What kind of loyalty program could you offer them that would win their loyalty and encourage them to engage with your product or service more frequently? Understanding what motivates your customer will help you select the appropriate customer loyalty program for your business.
- Work the Industry Network
Networking is not just to meet potential customers; it is to make business connections within your industry as well. Invest time in researching the focused industry networking events so that you can attend them and establish yourself as a serious player. There you can also make connections with other companies that will allow you to cross promote each other, collaborate and perhaps even advertise together.
You are ready to take your small business to the next level. Start by reviewing your team’s capabilities and identifying job functions that could be outsourced or automated for maximum value. Use the wisdom of your loyal customers to understand your product and positioning better as well as to offer loyalty programs. Establish yourself within your industry by networking with other businesses. Invest your time and energy now in strategically setting your business up for success in the future.