While it isn’t getting any easier to thrive as a small business in an increasingly competitive and globalized market, there are now many more opportunities to set you on the right track. The rising demands of customers can make prompt support and easy self-service important selling points. Employees’ desires to have a better work-life balance can be addressed by allowing for improved workforce mobility, which can also boost productivity and reduce operational costs. The list goes on.
If you want your small business to succeed, there are five key strategies you should consider implementing.
#1. Investing in customer experiences
The success of any business depends on the success of its customers. You’re helping them achieve a goal, and by doing that, you get to increase brand loyalty and turn repeat customers into brand advocates who help your business grow. But it’s no longer just about the product or how much it costs. The actual experience customers have when doing business with you is every bit as important. Your job is to deliver the product or service your customers want with as few barriers to entry as possible. In a time when people seek instant gratification, they want to be able to serve themselves without any unnecessary learning curves.
#2. Automating routine operations
In some respects, technology has made everything more complicated. The proliferation of IT has left many businesses and their customers exposed to potential data breaches, while also resulting in overdependence on critical systems that can fail at any time.
But rather than technology, human error is usually to blame. To streamline operations, serve customers better, and reduce the risk of human error, everything that can be automated should be. At the same time, employees get to focus on their core skills, instead of getting sidetracked by peripheral matters.
#3. Prioritizing employee engagement
It’s time to start thinking of your employees as your internal customers. Even if an employee doesn’t serve customers directly, he or she still has an important role to play, which influences the growth and sustainability of your business model. Employees are always more productive and deliver improved customer service if they’re not being micromanaged at every opportunity and they’re not distracted by menial tasks and technology issues.
You can improve employee engagement (and flexibility) with workflow automation, improved mobility, and online collaboration tools. It’s also important to have a system for recognizing and rewarding good performance.
#4. Focusing on long-term sustainability
Sustainability is shaping up to be the most important word of the decade. There’s a movement, and it’s real. Younger people, especially, are more concerned with the environment than ever before, to the extent many will deliberately refuse to do business with companies that, for example, don’t provide deforestation-free products.
Electronic waste is another major area of concern, and it’s the fastest growing waste category of all. These trends are forcing companies in every industry sector to make the shift toward more sustainable business models. There’s also more to it than simply recycling. More than ever, you have to think about your suppliers and where they’re getting their materials from as well.
#5. Becoming more adaptable to change
In the old days, businesses lacked the agility that they have today. Keeping their technological abilities up to scratch typically meant constantly investing in new hardware, software licenses, and underlying infrastructure. Legacy systems and processes were often cumbersome, which would result in organizational silos where important information isn’t readily available to those who need it.
To avoid this, businesses need to incorporate solutions like cloud computing and managed IT services. These allow businesses to scale up without being constrained by things like in-house servers and staffing an IT department to manage those servers. Businesses must also stay up to date on the latest trends so they can get a leg up on the competition.
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