National Small Business Week is here again. Learn about how its been a time to recognize important contributions of entrepreneurs since 1963.
National Small Business Week is here again. Since 1963, National Small Business Week has been a time to recognize the important contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners. It’s also been a great opportunity for consumers to show their support by visiting local businesses.
According to a March 2018 survey by Atomik and The UPS Store*, 50 percent of Americans choose to shop at local businesses as a way of supporting local business owners. So put your best foot forward during National Small Business Week and local consumers will likely reward your efforts.
To benefit from the increased recognition, small business owners should take a moment to ensure they have the right resources in place to operate and promote their businesses as flawlessly as possible. Since operational and marketing efforts are both crucial, we’ll touch on a few items in each category to help your local business stand out from the crowd, provide excellent customer service and generate great returns for you as the owner.
Master Your Operations
Manage your money.
Whether this is accomplished by taking advantage of accounting software or by hiring a CPA, the first thing a business owner needs to do is make sure their books are in order.
- Keep close track of all expenses and make sure you aren’t spending more in any category, like supplies or wages, than expected or planned for.
- Monitor your profit margins on all products or services sold. Some items have set prices, but if they’re costing you more than you’re making, you may need to reassess.
Develop a strategy and back it with data.
The best way to ensure sales goals and other business objectives are being met is to develop a strategy to get you to those goals. The best way to make sure your strategy works is to base it on key data points and modify it as needed when the data shows you should.
- Research your market and offerings for pricing, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This will help you to set realistic goals for yourself.
- Strategy objectives should include measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). It doesn’t matter if you have a strategy and great goals for your business if you‘re unable to track and measure whether you’re meeting those goals.
- An adaptable strategy and goals are a must as your market changes. If a new competitor opens or sales of your top product decrease, you may have to take a different approach in your marketing and promotional strategies.
There are countless resources available to help owners improve their operations and maximize sales. The UPS Store is one resource for small businesses that can help with services like printing and shipping, as well as lesser known services like direct mail and business management services. Use the resources you need to ensure the growth of your business.
Become a Marketing Guru
Know yourself and your customers.
The best way to promote a business is to know exactly what it offers. As a business owner, it’s tremendously important to recognize both the good and the bad of your business. Know what customers gravitate towards, and look for processes or procedures that can be modified to make the customer experience as positive as possible.
- The first step of promoting your business is actually done behind the scenes with employee training. The knowledge and experience your employees provide are what will keep customers coming back. Make sure employees know the business and are able to articulate the benefits of the products and services you offer.
- Knowledge of your customer base will help you target your marketing to where your audience is. Appropriate marketing efforts will save you time and money in the long run and boost your returns on the marketing you put out.
Some marketing is free(ish).
Some paid marketing is needed, like direct mail campaigns, in-store promotional material or online marketing, but you can multiply your returns by adding in some unpaid marketing campaigns.
- Things like social media cost you time, so they aren’t completely free, but they are a fantastic way to connect with local audiences and showcase community involvement. By investing some money on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you can increase visibility when you do run promotions or advertise products.
- Email campaigns are another way to keep customers in the loop on sales, promotions and information on new products or services. There are several low-cost email software applications if your mailing list is too large to manage on your own.
Pull it all Together
Your operational and marketing efforts should work together in harmony to ensure the best experience for your customer and the greatest returns for you. Use research to plan your business strategy and set goals. Keep analyzing and reassessing to make sure it’s still working. Create a culture of knowledge and customer support with your staff. Promote your business through paid and unpaid marketing. And most importantly, keep your efforts going all year long.
*Survey Methodology: The UPS Store commissioned Atomik Research to run a general population online survey of 1,003 people in the United States. In accordance with Market Research Society guidelines and regulations, the margin of error fell within +/- 2 percentage points with a confidence interval of 95 percent. The fieldwork took place between March 5-6, 2018.