How does a mighty oak grow from an acorn? Passion, strategy and technology.
Passion, strategy and technology.
When people think of small businesses, they often imagine family-run mom-and-pop stores, or maybe a start-up launched by entrepreneurs with fire in their eyes. The small-business mythos is inspiring to many of us, especially if we’ve secretly dreamed of founding a business based on our own passions.
But as every small-business owner knows, the excitement of launching a new venture is often tempered by sales and marketing struggles in those first volatile years.
Here’s how it often plays out. Two friends, both passionate about their field, see a need in the market and launch a business. They may not have the luxury of a customer database or fancy equipment but they know they have a great product – and sure enough, they get some customers right away, word of mouth grows, and their sales start to grow, bringing in steadily increasing sales and good word of mouth. They’re off to a great start.
Fast-forward a few years. The two entrepreneurs are working long hours and business has hit a plateau. Their sales reps use manual processes to track leads, and their marketing materials are generic and impersonal, as the company has no way to segment customers or identify purchasing patterns. Despite having a quality product, their business seems stuck and they don’t see any way to regain their work-life balance or grow their customer base.
It’s a frustrating scenario, but one that’s unfortunately all too common. When many boot-strapped entrepreneurs launch their businesses, it makes sense to them to track clients in an Excel spreadsheet with a few basic qualifiers like name, contact information and a few notes about their purchasing preferences. Their focus is on expanding by building awareness and selling to their target audience.
The most common mistake? Thinking their product appeal will carry them naturally into growth. In today’s business landscape, technology is mandatory for any business that wants to scale efficiently and create long-term growth, especially if the owners want to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
If any of this sounds familiar, consider the below five technology solutions. Not only can they help you accelerate growth, they might even help you reclaim your nights and weekends.
Small businesses may feel that relying on pen, paper and memory to track important data is an easy way to save money. But transcription errors and incomplete reporting usually make it impossible to organise their operations.
Think about it this way: spreadsheets used to track client data are never 100% up-to-date, it’s difficult to segment contacts into groups and it’s nearly impossible to tie any marketing strategy to customer details.
In this case, a CRM (customer relationship management) system is the next step for your business because it centralises all the details—big and small—about your customers in one place. By organising your operational data, you can extract crucial customer details and target them accordingly, resulting in higher conversions and stronger ROI.
Next week: Target communications by automating marketing; get more leads through social; streamline business processes with all-in-one solutions