Every small business is not a startup, and every startup is not a small business! That is quite evident if one reads the business magazines and newspapers regularly. Small businesses include a whole gamut of traditional small and medium enterprises, micro enterprises as well as the new-age startups. And all of them face a common set of challenges when it comes to growth. Size adds size, and that is precisely what these enterprises lack. So how can they attempt to overcome these hassles, and grow.
#SouthAsiaFastTrack offers Seven helpful tips:-
1. Do not underestimate the Power of Networking
Small Business is often relationship-based, and networking is key. Do not stop expanding your contact network, even at the risk of looking pushy. You have no other option, do you? Find out the successful people, find out the positive people, find out the people who were just like you. And go on and on and on networking with them. You never know when the contact reaps dividends! That could mean a new business order, a useful talent to be poached or an idea about a changing trend in the business. Either way, you will grow!
2. Track your Sales-Prospect Channel methodically
One of the biggest shortcomings of small businesses is that they do not track their sales and prospect channel properly. The excuses are same – it costs money to install a CRM system, it costs money to set up Tracking software. Tracking your sales and prospect need not always mean complicated software and system. Even a simple Excel can do the trick temporarily, as long as you use it right. Once your business becomes too big for Excel you are anyway big enough to install a better software! But track you must, and track it methodically. That will plug the leaks, help you identify the steps that do not pay, and thus streamline your efforts more productively. Without methodical tracking in place, no business on earth can hope to make its sales-prospect channel truly productive!
3. Do not forget the Basic Promise
Your product or service had a basic promise to its customers, and it does not do to add fancy customer service and add-ons at the risk of compromising the basic service. Research shows that maximum client attrition happens because the basic promise was not fulfilled – the food did not taste right, the coffee was cold, the packaging was bad, etc. etc. etc. And if your clients do not come back, you ain’t going to grow any bigger. Get the basic act right, each time, every time. Everything else was, and will be, just an add-on!
4. Choose your Social Media platform carefully
Social Media is confusing, and that is probably an understatement. There are too many platforms, and too many new ones coming up each day. Where all should you be? Here’s the tip – you do not need to be everywhere. Just be where your target customers are predominantly based, and deepen your presence in that platform/s rather than widening your presence on every platform. It does not pay to be everywhere, and forget to stamp your presence where you need to – in order to garner more eyeballs and following!
5. Your Customers are your best Salespeople
While businesses are confused on which channel to use for customer acquisition, the most effective one that many businesses ignore (at their own peril) is their own customers. Your clients are your best ambassadors, and they can make or break your market with prospects. Chase client referrals as a regular business strategy. New clients increasingly recognize that commercials are a bunch of lies, and are placing an increasing reliance on the feedback of old clients. If they did not like your product or service, there is slim chance the new ones will!
6. Learn, learn and learn
There is no shame in asking people for advice and knowledge. That is, in fact, the secret of success for many entrepreneurs! Reach out to mentors. Reach out to peer groups. Reach out to though-leaders. What is the worst case – they will not respond to your query and toss you aside like yesterday’s unwashed sock. Well, that is their ego, not yours. But the valuable advice from that one mentor might change the course of your business and its growth trajectory. Are you willing to let go of that chance, just to avoid facing the ego of the others?
7. Know when to STOP
Let’s try it once more, just one more time! How many times have you heard this reasoning in your business to go on trying the old, often failing, strategies? Know when to stop! It is as important as knowing when to start. If a strategy or effort is not realizing dividends after a few trials, say goodbye – however much you want to try it that one last time. Keep it in your mind, but practice something else. You can always come back to it – maybe it might work in a different situation. The cricket ball is the best example – balls with varying wear-and-tear work best at different stages of the match. Know which style suits your pitch at that point of time. Else your growth, at that point of time, will remain elusive!
These seven steps may sound cliché. You would have read them many times before. But why were many of you not practicing these. In short, what is cliché to read is not often cliché in practice. So why not put these practice – now!
Written by: Sourajit Aiyer
Image courtesy: Vanan Online Services, Stephen Leon