Many small business owners feel like they cannot keep up with the changes in the market, consumer habits, and even simply the world in general. The truth is it can be an ever-moving finish line. Determining how to grow your business through modernization is not a one-size-fits-all process and that fact can be to your benefit. As someone who has already developed a business plan and turned that plan into a physical reality, you are already familiar with the process involved with development, which puts you ahead of the game.
How do you know which modernization strategies are best for your business? The short answer here is, intuition, but there is certainly more involved than simply following your gut. As one of, if not the only ones, at the helm of decision making, you probably know the most about your business, how it works, where it thrives, and best practices for every area of growth. Use that gut instinct to help you develop plans to upgrade your operations.
Invest in Your People
The team that you create to help your business operate daily is a great place to start the process of modernization. Now this does not mean, bringing in a whole new regime, or taking people out of their current roles and moving departments around. However, dedicating time, resources, and potentially money, towards giving your existing staff an opportunity to learn new things is going to in turn bring your business into today’s world as a result. If that feels inapplicable or outside your reach now, possibly starting with yourself is a better way to go.
There are potentially many years, perhaps even decades, in between when you attended undergrad, and present day. Having said that, while the value of your degree is not lost with time, the practical applications may be. Graduate school is a great way to take your knowledge to the next level and even create networking opportunities for yourself in the process. If paying out of pocket does not make sense for you, consider taking out a student loan from a private lender to pay for your graduate degree. The ROI potential is favorable and immersing yourself back into a learning environment can update your frame of reference as you grow and develop your small business.
Love it, hate it, do not understand it, cannot afford it, already have it. Whatever your current relationship with technology looks like, the hard truth is that it is not going anywhere. Arguably the best, most efficient way to modernize your business is to update its technology. A full overhaul may seem overwhelming and come at a high cost to your time and budget, so here are some examples of ways to introduce up to date technology at varying levels.
- Virtual assistant software: Look at your current process for handling administrative issues. Chances are, you have a live person filtering through these issues. By implementing a virtual assistant into your business, you can move your tech savviness forward, potentially create a more practical role for the person previously handling this department, and offload mundane tasks from your own plate.
- Cloud services: Especially in a post-pandemic world, cloud service software is basically essential at this point. Various vendors exist offering companies a platform to host their businesses services. In simpler terms, adopting cloud services will digitize the tasks of your business and allow for shared access across team members and departments to streamline projects and collaborate more efficiently.
- Chatbots: By installing a chatbot onto your company’s website you can now provide around the clock customer service. This can be a significant stride in growing your business because it does not hold your customers to your physical office hours and allows them opportunity to find conflict resolution on their timeline and not yours.
Be Active on Social Media
You may have seen this one coming a mile away, but not without good reason. Social media, like technology, is not going anywhere, and at this stage in the game, even your dentist probably has a Twitter account. Having said that, you need to throw your hat in the ring to stay relevant and propel your business forward. Create accounts in your company name and have links to them on your main website. If you are not comfortable managing these accounts yourself or feel like you do not have the time to dedicate to maintaining them, consider recruiting a social media manager to take the reins.
Listen to Your Customers
If you are fortunate enough to have already been in business for a significant period, and have an established customer network, that does not make you exempt from needing to continually listen to it. Your target market will tell you in both direct, and indirect ways, how you can improve your services to meet their expectations. The suggestion of social media is a great example here. Often people will turn to Facebook or Instagram to look up a business or service before using a traditional online search engine. But if you were not listening to the needs of your customers, you may have missed that fact.
Placing your business on other interactive platforms outside your corporate website will also help generate conversations between clients. Yes, this can come with both pros and cons, but the overall opportunity for learning makes this a good thing. These back-and-forth conversations between customers can show you what is new with your target market, where expectations lay, and how your competition is managing these needs.
Modernization cannot happen without change, so you must remove any resistance you have for this to be effective for your growth strategy. Not every suggestion is a good one, or will make sense for your business’s specific needs, however, it is the consideration of these suggestions that matters. Being open to change will make it less painful and can also prevent mistakes in some cases. Researching what will go into each proposition will help you become comfortable with the details, as knowledge is power for a reason.