One of the few positives that we’ve seen from the past year, is the real shift towards consumers depending on smaller businesses and retailers – as many people sought to find bespoke and Australian-crafted solutions, that were also quite cost effective. As a result of this, I look forward to sharing some of my more in-depth insights into how retailers can leverage this at the Online Retailer Conference in September.
However, despite all the positives, running a small business and keeping up with this increasing demand can have its difficulties, and occasionally, you will need to step back, recognise the pain points, and change up your strategy so you can leverage these to achieve business success.
Having run Ice Jewellery for close to 10 years, I’ve definitely had my share of crises and issues to resolve. However, through trial and error, I was able to find ways to take my pain points and instead spin them around to create a positive impact on my business. Here are five common pain points that I know small businesses face, along with the tactical advice you will need to leverage them for success:
1. Attracting customers
One of the most common challenges that brands face is attracting and retaining customers. You want to be able to reach your target markets, but determining “how” to do this, can be difficult for small businesses. Small businesses often have smaller customer pools – so use this to your advantage! Right now, there are a group of people in your database who are engaged with your brand, so learn everything you can about them and then continue to market yourself outwards to others who are similar. Once you know who they are, do some promotions and targeted advertising to ensure you can reach them. Alternatively, create incentives based on what you know your audience responds to.
2. Nailing an online marketing strategy
Online marketing is one of those scary and daunting concepts that many small businesses stay away from, however, it can be a digital goldmine for your brand if approached correctly. Just because you don’t have the budget of a large company, it doesn’t mean you can’t get an online marketing strategy right. As the online shopping continues to grow, and consumers are becoming more tech-savvy, be the first to find your customers on their various platforms, whether it’s Instagram, LinkedIn, news sites, Pinterest, TikTok etc. And you don’t need to spend through the roof to make an impact.
Studies show that people are more likely to be engaged with brands who post/share more consistently, so rather than spending thousands of dollars on social ads, why not just spend that time creating engaging content and ensuring that there is a strong community around your brand and are passionate about what you do.
3. Keeping customers coming back!
Sales are important, but in the long run, repeat sales and referrals are integral to the success of your business. Investing your time into good customer service and ‘surprise & delight’ moments will allow you to develop a strong customer base who can’t help but come back again!
A few ways you can do this include, bespoke packaging, website offers and discounts, staying on top of your customer service channels, offering free returns or simply surprising your customer with a small gift with purchase. While simple, these few tips can help create a memorable moment for the customer.
4. Productive workflow
When building a small business from the ground up, it’s easy to let your employees become second priorities. However, this can be detrimental to productive workflow. Bosses should ensure their teams have the tools and resources to do their work efficiently, which involves recognising the roadblocks and addressing them considerately. My best recommendations would be to provide channels for feedback such as satisfaction surveys, team meetings, as well as frequent one-on-one meetings with direct reports. Find commonalities in the feedback you receive and work collaboratively with your team to workshop solutions that benefit both the employees and the company.
There is no doubt that cashflow is THE major pain point for small businesses. Unfortunately, at a small business level, financial mishaps can impact the trajectory of the company, especially if you have smaller reserves. So, how to combat this? Build a strong cash reserve that can act as a cushion if things do begin going south, as it’s better to be safe than sorry. Stay on top of your accounting and make sure that the books are always updated and consistent with all finances. Decisions should be influenced by your data so ensure that your data is accurate from the get-go!