It's not news that small businesses are struggling now. Unless you're in one of the hot sectors, like certain technology niches, telecommunications, transportation, or other industries that are surging because of the pandemic, you're probably scrambling to adjust to the new ways and get your business back on track.
Take some time to back up and re-visit the basics of small business management:
- Refresh your business plan.
- Re-think how to connect with potential customer/clients.
- Re-energize yourself and your employees to move forward in the best ways.
Following you'll find dozens of articles covering the various aspects of running a successful small business.
77 Top Small Business Management Resources
Business Process Management
All businesses, even solopreneurs and freelancers, have processes that govern how they handle any given task or workflow. You and your staff have consistent ways of doing things, even if the process is not mapped out or documented.
Perhaps they’re trained by a co-worker. Maybe they just “know” how to do various tasks because of technical expertise and experience.
We start out with good intentions. Then things get busy. Countless new processes are haphazardly created over time as everyone does their jobs to the best of their ability.
You need to put systems in place for consistent process management, and for reviewing and improving your processes.
More about business process management:
Business Process Management (BPM) for Small Businesses - A complete system to streamline your business processes
Business Operations Management
The vision you have of running your own business shows you all the positives that come with such a step. You're your own boss, you get to make all the decisions, and you get to chart the course for your company's future. Yes, these are all good things — but running a company isn't always smooth sailing.
Instead, being a small-business owner means you will face your fair share of stress. Some of this may come from inevitable hiccups along the way. You might realize you completely underestimated the cost of keeping things going.
More about business operations management:
Small Business and Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO means optimizing your company website and other web pages associated with your business (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media profiles and websites) to land higher in search results for "your company name." An SEO strategy is critical for any business, whether you’re a brick-and-mortar store/operation, or an e-commerce entity.
More about SEO:
Small Business Branding, Personal Branding, Online Reputation Management
Small Business Branding
Branding is always at work in your business, from the day you get your first customer. Your brand identity is what clients think, feel, and say about you and your company when you’re not around.
Naturally your brand image evolves over the years based on emotional connections with customers. It might seem that your brand is out of your control, but it’s not. That’s what brand management and positioning are all about.
More about small business branding:
Why do small business owners need to work on “personal” branding, too? You know the saying that “people hire people they know and like”? Potential customers want to know more about you, the person, along with your products and services, before they'll buy.
Branding is about differentiation. When you differentiate yourself AND your products and services from your competitors, you're helping people understand why they need to hire you or buy your products.
More about personal branding:
Online Reputation Management
As a small business owner, you want your potential customers to see good reviews and informative blog posts whenever they Google your name.
However, your brand reputation isn’t always up to you. An unhappy customer or a competitor can leave bad reviews and influence other potential customers’ opinions about you. To make sure that your potential clients always have a good impression of your business, you need to have a good online reputation management strategy in place.
More about online reputation management:
Small Business Marketing
In these uncertain COVID-19 times, local businesses are struggling to stay afloat, and wondering how and when they'll be able to re-open or open wide.
The last thing on your mind may be working on your marketing. You may just be trying to get by. But the local businesses that see this difficult time as an opportunity will likely bounce back better and faster.
In 36+ Compelling Types of Marketing Strategies for Local Business, you’ll find a variety of options for both traditional and digital marketing. Some are free, and some require only a small investment. Some will take time to install and see results, some will be quick to put in place and give you fairly speedy results. Not all of these things will be a good fit for you and your business, but they all deserve consideration.
Offline or Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing helps brands reach targeted audiences through offline marketing and advertising methods – magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, catalogs, SMS marketing, billboards, fliers, direct mail and even in-person networking. Traditional marketing, as the name implies, dates back to ancient times.
More about traditional marketing:
Digital marketing involves marketing products or services online. And it comes in different forms, including content marketing, social media, SEO, link building and so on.
Digital marketing has evolved to include online advertising such as banner ads and video marketing. The digital marketing landscape continues to grow broader each day to address the needs of tech-savvy audiences.
It’s easy to see why smart business owners know that digital marketing is an integral part of their branding efforts.
More about digital marketing:
Video and Visual Marketing
Savvy small business owners have been using video for several years to promote their brand, products, and services. They know about the many benefits of video marketing, including:
- Videos posted anywhere online rank higher in Google, LinkedIn, and other search engines than plain content on a digital page.
- Videos are 10X more likely to be shared than other content.
- YouTube rankings help their Google search results.
- Video conversion rates are higher than other content.
- Videos are one of the best tools to build their brand online.
Using visuals in digital marketing is similarly impactful. Engaging visual content helps lower bounce rates, increase dwell times, encourage higher-SEO rankings, and improve conversions.
More about video and visual marketing:
Content marketing focuses on creating, publishing, and distributing content online for a targeted audience. It's proven to be a powerful and cost-effective way to build brand awareness, generate leads, and boost website traffic.
While content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, it generates more than three times as many leads. With the abundance of content being created, breaking through the clutter to reach your target audience is harder than ever.
More about content marketing:
Social Media Marketing
It's been estimated that most consumers (72%) use social media multiple times a day, making it a valuable marketing tool for businesses. People expect businesses to use social media. If they don't, they're invisible to the vast majority of potential customers.
Social media helps:
- Humanize your brand
- Make customer service more engaging and efficient
- Increase customer loyalty
- Reach younger generations
- Control your brand's online narrative
More about social media marketing:
LinkedIn for Small Business
Are you like all too many small business owners when it comes to LinkedIn?
- You have no LinkedIn profile because you don't think you need to, or you have no time for LinkedIn, or
- You have a minimal LinkedIn profile, with a bit of content in only a few sections, that you slapped together in a rush because you know you need to have a LinkedIn presence, or
- You put some time and thought into it and created a decent LinkedIn profile a while ago, then promptly forgot all about LinkedIn. You pay little to no attention to LinkedIn.
Sure, you may be preoccupied with other social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. But if you’re neglecting LinkedIn to promote your business and brand, you’re missing out on a goldmine of opportunities.
More about LinkedIn for small business:
While social media marketing is commonplace among businesses of all sizes, email marketing is still one of the most effective methods to generate leads and sales. Knowing how to properly craft an email campaign while reaching your intended audience can drastically increase your company's conversion rates while providing you with more opportunities to generate revenue in less time.
More about email marketing:
Customer Service & Customer Experience
No question, customer service and the customer experience (CX) are the most important components in business. If you don’t treat your customers right, or they have a negative experience with your business, they may not come back. They’ll certainly tell anyone who will listen how badly they were treated by you. Your sales will plummet.
When people have unpleasant experiences regarding your company, brand, or product, they expect you to take responsibility for it. When you don’t, you risk losing them as customers. The price you pay for bad customer service is decreased profit. The relationships you form with your customers influence people’s impression of your brand. Clearly, it's crucial to dedicate a decent amount of time to improving customer experience.
More about customer service and customer experience:
Pricing is likely a constant top-of-mind issue to you, as a small business owner. What should you charge for your products and services?
If you undercharge, you may not make enough to stay in business. If you overcharge, you may not be able to compete with other businesses providing the same products and services, and you may alienate customers.
Either way, you may not be able to stay afloat. Your pricing strategy most certainly impacts every aspect of your business.
More about pricing:
A Hubspot survey reports that 65% of all businesses say that generating leads is their biggest marketing problem. And 80% say that their lead generation efforts are only “slightly to somewhat” effective.
It seems natural that generating leads during the early years of a small business would be challenging. Over time and with a good marketing system in place however, you’d think problems with generating leads would diminish.
Yet these statistics indicate it’s an ongoing business development challenge for small businesses in all niches.
More about lead generation:
Sales play a pivotal role in any organization. This is what they call measurable success. Another important role of sales is connecting the customer’s needs to the products and services that a business offers.
Sluggish sales growth can put a company in hot water, with the worst case scenario being bankruptcy. Yet some business owners aren’t aware of why their company is failing. That's why it's important to understand every piece of the sales process.
Sales performance is impacted by different factors in the business – the marketing strategy, the product or service itself, the management, customer service, or the market. All elements of the business must be perfectly in sync.
More about sales growth:
Starting a Small Business
Being your own boss is a dream for many, but unfortunately most small businesses don’t survive long term. There are many challenges for start-ups. Being aware of the obstacles you may face can help you surmount them with more ease, and perhaps avoid some potential problems.
Every startup begins with a business idea. Nevertheless, an idea alone is not enough for success. In order to launch a startup, you need to validate the idea, check the receptiveness of the market, gather enough money to do so and tackle several other infrastructural and operational tasks.
More about starting a small business: