If you are hoping for a better year in 2021 when it comes to your small business, MoneyThumb would like to share the following tips and expert advice from Melinda Emerson. Forbes Magazine named her the #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter.
- Assess Your Business
Now is the time to find your new path to success and it may look vastly different. You may need to kill some products or service lines or develop new ones. The SCAMPER Formula can be useful to develop the best plan of action:
- Substitute– What can you substitute to lower cost?
- Combine– Everyone loves a combo offer, so create one
- Adapt– How can you adapt to meet your customer’s future needs
- Modify–Can you modify your offers to appeal to your client’s leaner budget
- Put to another use–Is there another audience or niche that you could pursue
- Eliminate– What do you need to stop doing in your business?
- Reverse– Can you go back to something you used to do and launch it again?
- Find Creative Ways to Pivot
Many businesses haven’t been able to operate in the same way they once did. Pivoting could save your business. Here’s a great example: After it was forced to shut down, Your Skin Fitness Expert went from being a six-figure spa to a monthly facial club that sends members a monthly facial kit and tips for use. Master Magician Dan Chan went from giving performances at in-person corporate events to creating ticketed Zoom events.
Sometimes you have to be open to how your offerings need to change, as well as mindful of how you can best serve your customers.
- Review your sales process
Sales are the lifeblood of any business, use this time before the end of the year to tighten up your sales pipeline and map out your sales target list for 2021. Consumers’ buying habits have changed, online shopping is booming thanks to everyone being at home so it’s important to shift your sales process if necessary to accommodate new trends.
- Where do your leads come from? (Review analytics/sales data)
- Do you need a new lead magnet or sales funnel?
- What is your new content strategy for 2021?
- Is it time to invest in online ads?
Consider Other Channels for Selling Too.
What worked in the past may not work in today’s world. Look for more successful avenues to sell that you haven’t considered before, like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. You could also create an affiliate program and get influencers in your industry to sell for you. Perhaps you could create information products to create a passive revenue stream as well.
- Leverage Technology
We’re moved swiftly in a digital-first society, but now’s the time to be proactive rather than reactive. Explore the best apps for marketing automation, (one of my favorite apps is MixMax for Gmail and G-suite users), CRM, invoicing (Sage & Quickbooks), and video conferencing tools for your company, whether that’s Zoom or Google Meet. If you have employees, what’s the best way to communicate with them remotely? Slack is a great option for team instant messaging.
Also, consider how your customers want to communicate with you. Open up the other lines of communication, such as live chat on your website, Whatsapp (video conference by phone), use a scheduler app such as Calendly so people can book:15 or: 30-minute calls, try Sanebox for email, and make sure you are monitoring your social media accounts and your direct messages.
- Partner with Other Businesses
Remember: we’re in this together. Partnering with other businesses can lift us all up, so consider ways you could both support and receive support from another local or online business that relates to yours.
Here are a few examples. A restaurant could offer free delivery and discount to local brewery customers. A content marketing firm and a graphic design firm could bundle services together to offer more value to customers while getting more business. Online retailers could cross-promote one another’s related products.
- Give Your Customers What They Want
Now more than ever, it’s important to listen to what your customers want and need. To find out if you’re hitting the mark with your customers, conduct surveys to get customer feedback on service or products. Ask for your customers’ suggestions about your products.
There’s a health and beauty company called Pooka Pure and Simple that used the pandemic as an opportunity to connect with customers through its Facebook group. There, the brand got feedback that directly led to it creating a new line of products.
Give customers multiple ways to connect with you (social, email, chat, phone, video) and they want options to pay too. If you are in retail people want contactless payments. Make sure you have ample customer support in-store and online to reduce wait times and needs to call.
- Master Working Virtually
Even if we return to our offices and storefronts in 2021, being able to work virtually anywhere will be key for many small businesses.
Create a dedicated home office with everything you need. You may have scrambled to set up a desk in your closet when the pandemic hit, but now’s the time to invest in setting up a space that is conducive to getting work done. That might mean converting your guest room, basement, garage into a workspace. Set up rules so the family doesn’t disturb you during work hours. They need to understand that, even though you’re home, you’re busy.
And if you participate in video calls frequently, invest in lighting. LumeCube is a great option. You’ll also want to get a wireless mic or earbuds and be mindful of the background that the video shows at home. You want to maintain a professional demeanor, but if you have a pile of laundry teetering on the couch behind you, that might not be what you evoke.
- Use Your Data to Measure Your Marketing Efforts
Understanding what works for your business is all in the data. It might sound highly technical, but today’s analytics dashboards are pretty intuitive, even if you’re not a rocket scientist.
Look at Google Analytics to see where your web traffic is coming from and invest more effort into those channels while pulling away from those that don’t send you much traffic. Analyze social media stats to see what types of content is working to drive engagement, and create more of that. Focus on the marketing tools that bring the best bang for your buck.
If you want to change anything for better results, change just one thing at a time and measure results again.
- Plan Your Budget and Finances
You may not be able to afford all the marketing, payroll, and operational expenses you used to. Make temporary cuts that will keep you afloat until revenues return to normal.
Take time to review your bank statement. Cancel any unnecessary subscriptions or services you’re not using or can live without.
- Be Flexible
The truth is we don’t know what’s coming next or how long this pandemic will impact us. It’s important to continually review and tweak your business plan and know that it might change. Adapt your marketing strategy as needed; likely you will need to explore new marketing avenues to reach customers. And constantly look for creative ways to drive profit into your business.