Amazon, eBay, and Walmart dominate the online marketplace, but that doesn’t mean there is no room for everyone else. Plenty of other small, medium, and large businesses have found success in a world presumably overshadowed by Jeff Bezos and the Walton family. These businesses have owners who have implemented strategies that have allowed them to stay afloat despite the stormy seas of commerce. There are many things that successful small businesses have in common. Here a 6 habits of highly successful businesses that you can copy to start growing your business now.
1) They Carve Out a Niche
All successful businesses have a demographic to whom they must cater. To do this, you have to identify what your clients want and be precise in your delivery. This is the fundamental rule of niche marketing. An example of a niche market would be a physical therapist catering to athletes with plantar fasciitis or a handyman that works with homes built in the 1980s.
Business News Daily asserts that creating a niche market makes you more appealing to a specific audience. Further, it simplifies your business operations, can make you more efficient, and cut down on operating costs. Finding your niche can be tricky, however, and it does take work. Refining your business does not happen by chance. To start, identify market segments that go under-served. You will need to solve customer problems and listen for feedback. There will likely be lots of trial and error, so take detailed notes and pay close attention to the products and services that sell and to who is buying.
2) They Hire the Right People
The products you push are far from the most important factor in the success of your business. What is, then? It’s the people that work for you. Hiring the right individuals is essential. While you are the foundation of your company, your employees are the bricks and mortar that hold it all together. If you have ever visited a mom-and-pop burger joint, you can understand how people and products work together to perpetuate success.
As a small business owner, it can be difficult for many reasons to fill key positions. First, you may feel obligated to appoint friends and family to these roles. Next, and most obvious, is money. You may not be able to afford an employee with 10 years of experience and a master’s degree in your industry like a large corporation, but you can employ the same vetting techniques during the interview process.
Palo Alto Software’s Briana Morgaine explains that hiring the right people starts with understanding how their aspirations fit into the job description. Next, you will have to check the references and, if possible, evaluate them outside of an interview setting. Once you have found someone, give them a chance to spend time with your existing team to see if they fit with your business’s culture and ideals. Most importantly, you need to go with your gut. If you don’t feel like they are a good fit, they probably are not.
3) They Utilize Powerful Selling Tools
If you plan to sell online, it is not enough to simply set up a virtual marketplace. You have to find tools that allow you to extend your reach beyond where you are. Many of the most successful businesses create strategic brand partnerships with “sell online” sites like Rakuten that help them integrate their advertising in places where their customers already are. Known for offering customized support and easy order processing, Rakuten and others do things like provide cashback opportunities to your customers for buying your products or services. Companies like these are also a great example of how developing a niche can create success.
Another tool is targeted advertising. This can be achieved through social media, search engines, or in-app ads for your products and services based on people’s online buying history, social media activity, and demographic. An example might be an ad for a brand of running shoes that you have searched for popping up in a health and fitness app that you currently use.
4) They Don’t Cut Corners
As a small business owner, you obviously want to save money where you can. However, there are certain areas where cutting back can metaphorically cut your throat. All successful businesses know this and spend money where it matters most.
Employee training, quality ingredients, and building maintenance are just a few examples of things that you can’t leave to chance. Doing so can have serious financial consequences. Failure to train your employees properly can lead to higher turnover and dissatisfied customers. Swapping out high-quality chocolate if you own a bakery, for example, for bottom-of-barrel imitation baking chips can leave your confections lackluster at best. A dilapidated building looks bad, no matter your industry, but it is especially concerning if your business deals with children or regularly hosts professional business meetings.
IT, and specifically online business security, is another area where you cannot afford to fall short. Simple and inexpensive steps, such as training your employees to avoid scam emails, can help you prevent a data disaster and a subsequent decline in your customers’ trust.
5) They Know and Manage Their Reputation
In business, your reputation — both offline and online — is everything. You can have the best products in the world, but if one person blasts you all over the Internet, it will create a domino effect of people snubbing their noses at you. Manage your business’s reputation by paying attention to review sites and social media. A quick Google search of your company name can help you see yourself from a potential customer’s point of view. Make sure to do this from multiple computers after clearing each browser’s cache; you will also want to search your name as well as that of your most prolific employees.
Your online reputation management strategy should also include content marketing, search engine optimization, and customer engagement. Remember, it is much cheaper to stay on top of your reputation than it is to recover from bad reviews.
6) They Adapt and Change
Did you know that Taco Bell started out as a hot dog stand or that Avon was originally a book-selling company? These businesses look very different today than at founding because their owners knew they had to adapt to meet their customers’ demands. Keep this in mind and be willing to change your strategy to follow the path where your customers are going.
Running a small business is hard work, but running a successful small business is even more challenging. It will be much easier if you learn lessons from those who have done it before and came out on the other side to become a household name.