The Small Business Guide for a Successful Start

It takes a lot of courage to quit your job to set out and start your own business, and yet it is that very courage that has made this country what it is today. Small businesses are what make each and every community unique. They are what gives your neighborhood character, and charm, and they are what brings everyone together. Succeeding as a small business, however, is another matter entirely.

In order to secure success, you will need to be prepared, motivated, and have a little bit of luck. Of course, there is no way to guarantee your business will succeed, but there are ways to better your chances. If you want to be a success, you have to go in with the right mindset and the right game plan. You won’t have the time nor the funds to make easy and avoidable mistakes once you start your business. Instead, you need to plan and prepare.

Know Your Competition

When it comes to learning, there is nowhere better to look than your competition. Technically your “competition” doesn’t even have to be a company that you will be directly competing with. If you are the only artisan tea shop in town, then you won’t have anyone to compete with, for instance. There will, however, be similar stores around the country and around the world. It is from these companies that you need to study and learn from. The bigger the company, the more well-documented their rise to success will be.

Similarly, it is also helpful to learn how others like you have failed. Avoiding easy mistakes and being better prepared can help you survive long enough that your business becomes popular and succeeds. The businesses you study don’t have to be specifically in your niche market, either. If you sell food, any restaurant or café business will have something you can learn from. Likewise, if you sell clothes, there are many retailers to choose from, and so on.

Know Your Community

Unless your small business is online-based and you have a global customer base, it will be very helpful to know the community. For many, this will be easy. You will have lived and grown up in the town and know it well. If you are new, however, this can help you be cognizant of the town’s idiosyncrasies and their problems. You can offer a pay-it-forward system if there is a clear problem with homelessness, where customers can pay cost price for a pay-it-forward coffee or snack. You can also donate all your uneaten food to the local shelter, and so on.

If your town has a strong culture and history, then tastefully highlighting this history can also bring in the locals. If you live in an area full of artists, offer to represent their work on your walls. That way customers can see their work, their name, and even potentially buy their artwork.

Know Your Customers

You need to know your customers. After all, this is who you will be directly advertising to, and knowing them, their needs, and their language can help you advertise to them more effectively. If your café is near a community center, you can offer special deals after school for parents who are waiting for their kids to complete their swimming lesson, for example. If you are a retailer, you can add a small café section to help bring people in. By knowing where your business will be located, and familiarizing yourself with who frequents that area, you can build a business that will be an instant hit.

Customer Service First

When you have done all of the legwork and completed a strong business plan using the information you have gathered, it’s time to create a comprehensive customer service plan. Customer service is what will truly set you apart as a small local business. That’s because, as a local establishment, you should see more repeat business than new faces. Improving your customer service and the value you can offer your customers will ensure that those who love you keep coming back again and again.

There are many ways to achieve this high standard of service. The first of course is to train your employees on how to treat the customer that comes in through the door. Then, of course, you should also have social media profiles that do two things: engage with users and show a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Both of these options will help online users get to know you, and, if your business is “Instagram-worthy,” you will find many young people will visit your store just to see how beautiful it is.

For the more technical and business side of your business, you have call operators and customization options. As a small business with a limited budget, you won’t be able to set up your own programs or departments to handle these two key aspects of the business. Thankfully, there are affordable options for both. AnswerFirst, for instance, will take all calls that come to your office that you cannot take for whatever reason. They will act as your business and provide the caller with answers to simple questions, take messages for more complicated business matters, and of course, send all messages to you. Their platform also allows you to review every call for quality control.

Email customization options are also becoming increasingly popular, meaning that if you have an online store or reservation service, you can have your users create an account which would then allow you to create custom newsletters, discounts for birthdays, and so on.

To be a successful business, you need to prepare. You need to have everything ready to go right from the start so that you can draw a crowd and create loyal customers as soon as possible. You don’t have the time to learn as you go, which is why you need to treat the preparation period like a degree. Learn as much as you can, and prepare as much as you can, and you increase your chances of becoming a staple to the community tenfold.

Posted in: Business