5 Strategies Every Small Business Must Have
Posted on February 6, 2018
If you are a small business owner, then the road to success must underpin everything you do. That means you have to have any and all strategies that will get you to where you need to be worked out and checked over, and followed by you and your employees. If your strategies are sound, success won’t be far behind. Here are some of the strategies that will grow your business and boost your profits.
Your Business Plan
Every business has to have a business plan. Even if you aren’t intending to borrow any money from investors, banks, or other lenders, having a business plan will guide you. A good business plan is a map, taking you from the very start of your business to the next stage of growth, and once you have reached that stage, you should create a new, updated business plan. Keep following it, and you should do well. Your business plan should include what you want to achieve in the next six months, 12 months, 18 months, perhaps even five years. The timescale will be dependent on how quickly you feel you can scale your business. Be accurate, but also be conservative. If you move at a faster pace than you anticipated, that’s a good thing. If you are over-eager in your business plan and you fall behind schedule, you will start to feel as though you are failing, even when you’re not. Set concrete goals that you can measure and achieve, and you will continue to push your business onwards.
If you are going to be successful, you need a strong brand identity that can feature on all of your marketing material, and even your packaging (you can learn more about how that works here). Designing your brand is essential because once it’s complete, you can define your marketing strategy. You will need to look into the different avenues available to you for marketing and determine which one is best for your business and your product. You might feel that Facebook is the best place to advertise because your target audience tends to browse Facebook during their lunch breaks. Or perhaps you’d rather invest in radio advertising because those who are most likely to buy your products are parents on the school run who listen to the radio in their cars. Doing your market research before committing to any marketing strategy is essential, and will give you a clear idea of which direction to go in. If you just guess, or try to do everything at once, the result could be a loss of money. Another important thing to remember is that you should never neglect your marketing efforts. While it can be tempting when you have one or two great months, if you don’t keep up with it, when the customers start to fall away again, you will have to start from the beginning, rather than from the good position you were in before.
Your Customer Value Proposition
Your customer value proposition is your strategy to set yourself apart from your competitors. You need to do this to ensure that you are different; knowing this is so important, and many businesses fail to look deeply into it. They simply carry on regardless. However, without understanding how you can differentiate yourself, you won’t understand how to give value to your customers. Starting a business that is the same or similar to another, already well-established business is a difficult thing to do unless you can persuade customers that you can offer them something more or something different. Without this strategy, you will lose out. Look at your competitor’s products, their service, look at their branding. Make sure you are different – or different enough to be noticed. Otherwise, loyal customers will stick with what and who they know, and you will find it hard to attract people to your door or onto your site.
Along similar lines to the customer value proposition strategy, the competitor strategy that you need to come up with also entails looking at other, similar companies. However, this time you need to ask more direct questions about how they are working. You will want to know who your most direct competitors are, and what they offer (and promise) their customers. You will need to look closely at their branding and their advertising; how are they marketing their products? What emotions are they using? Cost is another major factor; without knowing what your competitors are charging, you won’t know whether your costs are seen as too high, or even too low. Next, take a look at how they deliver their goods, and what added extras they throw in. Once you get answers to these questions, you can start to put together an analysis of how your competitors work. You can use this to boost your strategies.
Your Cash Flow
If you have problems with your cash flow, then you have problems everywhere in your business. If you’re not getting paid, you can’t pay anyone else, and that means angry suppliers, staff who quit, and utilities being shut off. It won’t matter how much work you’re invoicing, and how successful you are on paper, if the money isn’t coming in, failure can be imminent. Therefore, you need a cash flow strategy that will detail how you intend to get paid on time, and what contingencies are in place for when you’re not. To begin with, you could look at how you want to get paid. Do you want 30-day terms, or would you prefer to lower that to 15 at the start? Will you accept credit cards (this can help your customers with their cash flow, and in turn will help yours)? Do you need to be paid in advance, or do you want a deposit? Many different ideas can help with your cash flow, but you need to think of them before it becomes a problem, as it is not something that is easy to act on retrospectively.