Being a small business owner can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Any victories and goals achieved by your company are a reflection of your own abilities and success. However, as the owner of a small business, you are also accountable for any missteps or challenges faced. This can put immense amounts of pressure on people in that role, driving them to spend excessive amounts of time and energy trying to manage every aspect of the business and mitigate any risks. In order to reap the benefits of being a small business owner while steering clear of potential pitfalls, it’s crucial to keep a few tips in mind.
Here are some marketing tips for small business owners seeking out ways to find balance and build something great in the process.
1. Define the Heart of Your Business
It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when developing your small business, but if you don’t take the time to determine what’s at the heart of it, you might find a jarring lack of cohesion that hampers you later on. A great way to resolve this issue is by first creating a vision for your business. It is equally important that you are able to successfully communicate said vision to others, allowing them to understand what ultimately drives you and your business. A well-crafted vision can guide you in the creation of future goals, help you make important business-related decisions, determine the company culture and the kinds of people you employ, and more. Jack Welch, who served as CEO of General Electric, once stated: “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
2. Set Long Term Goals
The early days of running a small business can be somewhat overwhelming. It’s easy to lose yourself in the details of day-to-day tasks and fail to conceptualize where you would like to be 5, 10, or 20 years from now. It can be difficult to fully grasp the relevance of concepts so far out in the future. However, failing to set concrete, long-term goals can cause you to accidentally take your company in a direction that is incompatible with what you expected or desired. Goals help ensure that every member of your company is aware of your future intentions and can help you grow accordingly. That being said, it’s also important to be realistic when setting your goals. In certain instances, you might find that drastic changes you’ve experienced in the present have had a significant impact on what you want to achieve in the future. It’s okay to reevaluate your long-term goals and set new ones if necessary, allowing you to pull the various elements of your company into alignment.
3. Start Small
Once you’ve taken the time to determine what drives you and what paths you wish to pursue with your small business, it might be tempting to try and skip ahead. Many small business owners have large collections of exciting ideas they’d like to pursue, and it can seem like a smart idea to try and implement as many as possible in order to have the highest chances of success. However, this is likely to cause a disconnect between you and your target audience, who have not yet had the chance to build a relationship with your brand and your products. In addition, the quality of your products and services is likely to suffer because you are spread too thin to truly prioritize any one area.
Instead of rolling out all of your ideas at once, consider starting small with a single offering. This way, you can truly devote yourself to improving it, and your audience has a clear understanding of the value you provide. Once you’ve had time to truly perfect that offering and build trust and customer loyalty with your audience, you can expand further and start bringing some of your other ideas to light.
4. Prioritize a Solid Marketing Strategy
While it’s certainly important to invest time and resources into perfecting your business’ offering, it is far from the only important aspect of running a successful company. The best product in the entire world won’t account for much if no one knows it exists. This is why marketing is so important. Not only is it important for people, in general, to be aware of your product. You want to ensure that you are specifically targeting those most likely to become customers to make the best use of your budget and that you are doing so in such a way that it inspires trust and creates the foundation for a future relationship. A solid marketing strategy ensures that those people are fully aware of what your business can provide and have a thorough understanding of what makes it so valuable. To do this successfully, you’ll want to ensure you and your marketing team have a solid understanding of how SEO works and how to incorporate it into your promotional strategy.
5. Target Your Local Community
Of the various tips for small business owners most widely discussed, one that is often overlooked is the importance of targeting the consumers in your local community. In modern society, a significant portion of commerce happens online. As such, it can seem of the utmost importance to devote all your attention to the creation of digital ads via popular online spaces, such as social media platforms.
However, just because we are operating in a digital space doesn’t mean you should neglect those that live in the same local area as your business. For starters, local communities have a tendency to foster a feeling of trust amongst the various residents. This means that if you are able to convince a significant portion of the local population that your company is worth the investment, other members of the same community will be more likely to follow suit. In addition, local customers often exhibit more brand loyalty and long-term commitment than their long-distance counterparts, helping you to build the foundation of your customer base.
6. Don’t Fall Prey to Tunnel Vision
In the early days of running a small business, there are several areas in need of constant attention. This is important to ensure that you are able to maximize the benefits of every opportunity and are investing your resources in the best places to ensure a high return. However, it’s also important to avoid becoming too nearsighted and losing track of the bigger picture. Focusing on details instead of taking a step back to get a better understanding of how your business is performing can cause you to overlook ways in which you can improve your offerings, which in turn will help you grow and be successful. This is where regular reports can be extremely helpful. When creating annual or quarterly reports in regards to the performance of your business, you have the opportunity to compile large amounts of data into a narrative, exposing which areas are the strongest and which are in need of some serious reevaluation.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Rely on Others
Depending on how personally invested you are in your small business, it can be incredibly difficult to keep yourself from trying to run every aspect (trust me, I know). There’s a lot of pressure and responsibility involved, and it can be frightening to think of letting go of some of that control. However, a key to running a successful business is being able to delegate.
Instead of trying to do everything yourself, you can redirect your efforts towards assembling a talented, trustworthy team of people who can help take on some of those responsibilities. Not only does this provide you with the time you need to be properly rested and able to focus on areas of need, but it also allows you to take advantage of the incredible knowledge, skills, and perspective that can be gained from the inclusion of other people. Entrepreneur James Altucher once said:
“Don’t buy into the 20-hours-a-day entrepreneur myth. You need to sleep 8 hours a day to have a focused mind.”
8. Avoid the Echo Chamber
It can be intimidating to open yourself up to comments or criticism from others, especially if you’ve spent a significant amount of time and effort building up your business. But without that input, it will be very difficult for your business to grow. When you have no outside source of feedback, you can very quickly find yourself in an echo chamber. This environment leads to the reinforcement of the same concepts and ideas and can cause you to make decisions that are ultimately harmful to your company without realizing as much until the damage is done.
Feedback can come from a variety of places. For starters, providing avenues for your customers to indicate their satisfaction with your services can give you valuable insight. You can also ascertain important information by examining data in regard to the performance of various different ads, products, website pages, and more. Finally, don’t forget to provide your team members opportunities for their voices to be heard as well.
9. It’s Okay to Recycle Marketing Assets
Over the lifetime of your business, you will be required to produce massive amounts of content in order to adhere to your SEO strategy and continue hitting your goals. This requires extensive work from yourself and your marketing team as you strive to put out information that is both fresh and relevant. One way that you can ease some of that burden is by repurposing existing content into new forms to extend its usefulness. After all, a large amount of time and resources go into the creation of each asset. By repurposing this information, you are making maximizing the potential earnings from your initial investment.
10. Remember, Improvement is a Never-ending Process
Finally, one of the most important tips for entrepreneurs is to never stop optimizing. Some company owners will decide to suddenly invest a large number of resources into implementing new designs, SEO strategies and marketing assets and then fail to revisit the concept of optimization for decades after. Improving your business isn’t an item to be checked off of a list. It’s a never-ending process. Note that working on improving your business can take a variety of forms, and this doesn’t mean you should be attempting a massive rebrand every single year. But continually assessing the relevance of your material, the functionality of your site, and the success of your marketing campaigns is key to ensuring that your business remains relevant and doesn’t become stagnant over time.
Bonus Tip: Outsource When Possible
As a long-time business owner myself, I speak from experience when I say one of the most important things you can do as a small business owner is know when to outsource. One of the biggest mistakes I made early on was thinking I had to delegate and, if I didn’t have the right staff to delegate to, I had to hire more help. Unfortunately, finding quality staff proved to be challenging, especially considering what we could afford to pay staff. I often found myself spending months training someone to do basic tasks, only for them to leave for a better position with their new training and experience.
Where possible, as your business is growing, I suggest looking for vendors and suppliers who can help fulfill your needs without having to hire staff. Naturally, as your business grows, you’ll need to hire some employees. However, you’d be surprised what a cost savings outsourcing certain aspects of your business management and marketing needs can be when you compare it to the expense of hiring, training and managing staff.
Bottom line? Outsourcing can be a cost-effective solution to bring expertise to the table without exhausting all of your funds.