Amid the release of data revealing the economic outlook among U.S. small business owners has finally stabilized, entrepreneurs have cause to be optimistic. Whether that outlook begins to uptick not only depends upon how agile, adaptable, creative and resourceful entrepreneurs can be in planning for — or reacting to — market conditions, revenue and brand-building opportunities as well as other key concerns, but also how well they maintain a forward-thinking mindset.
Toward this end, tomorrow’s smart and successful entrepreneur will have his or her bases well-covered on five particular fronts discussed in this article.
Operating with transparency used to be a luxury over a necessity; now, it’s quite mandatory. In particular, millennials, who wield a tremendous amount of influence and purchasing power, make buying decisions based largely on the provenance, manufacturing processes and overall business practices of a particular company. Because millennials are now the largest population in the U.S., to say transparency will drive how businesses are perceived is an understatement at best.
However, the good news is establishing and maintaining transparency does not have to be difficult. Simply communicating regularly with honesty and unequivocally holding yourself, your staff and your company accountable will go a long way toward fostering goodwill with customers and prospects, as well as with vendors, strategic partners and your industry at large.
Today, most businesses from giant corporations like PepsiCo Inc. to mom-and-pop coffee shops and carwashes have some sort of loyalty program.
Each industry faces new competition on a daily basis, and customers are understandably price-sensitive, often buying from the company with the best sale or perks. Yet, what loyalty programs really come down to is creating that coveted repeat customer.
For instance, airlines offering free first-class upgrades or hotels upgrading room sizes for elite travelers often creates an allegiance that trumps price point. This principle can be applied to every business. If you’re a service company and a client is at the end of his or her agreement, offer a specific service at a discount or another deliverable with a high perceived value. Those which do business online can easily build an awards program that fosters a faithful following.
For many, unfortunately, the chances of obtaining a loan are low. In fact, a recent survey by Thumbtack revealed that the majority of participants who tried to get a favorable loan (61 percent) were unable to do so.
For others, venture capital and private equity funding are equally, if not more, difficult to obtain. While some types of capital are actually easier to procure, the interest rates are usually more aggressive.
Instead, businesses can consider crowdfunding and nontraditional lenders as alternatives. According to the 2015CF-Crowdfunding Industry Report provided by Crowdsourcing.org, global crowdfunding was anticipated to be more than $34 billion. A revenue source of that size is simply too big to ignore.
Pay-for-play social media
Facebook was among the first to implement the “pay-for-play” model by removing organic reach and focusing on paid advertisement. Since being acquired by Facebook, Instagram is destined to follow. Pinterest and Twitter are also currently growing into their pay-for-play systems and will also likely make it difficult for pure organic reach.
Unfortunately, this switch in gears means business owners will need to increase their social media budget. However, Facebook’s paid ads have been shown to reach a significantly greater percentage of users than organic posts, making paid ads well worth the investment.
With that being said, social media should not only be leveraged as a form of advertising. This platform is ideal to handle customer service in such a way that it improves marketplace loyalty as well as your company’s transparency endeavor.
Simply put, if you do not offer some form of instant gratification your prospective customer will likely go somewhere that does. This truth is particularly problematic for businesses requiring information from customers. Having prospects fill out contact request forms to be contacted later on for products/services is becoming less effective in today’s on-the-go society.
To be competitive, you need to deliver to customers instantaneously in some way, whether that be with the provision of information they are seeking or other deliverable means that will satiate them in the moment and keep them interested for a longer term. Even just offering quicker and more efficient processes in dealing or transacting with your company is certainly a form of instant gratification. At every available touchpoint, strive to impress the customer — an incredibly effective way of evoking that gratified feeling.
No matter the industry or business type, owners can still make a profit regardless of what the current economic outlook happens to be. That begins with giving customers what they want, how they want it and in a way that is more sensitive to the marketplace compared to the company’s needs.
The tools discussed in this article will help your car care business be well on its way to doing exactly that, possibly making 2016 your most successful year yet.
Brian Greenberg is a multifaceted entrepreneur who has founded and currently spearheads an assortment of successful online businesses. He currently co-owns and operates multiple entrepreneurial companies with his father, Elliott Greenberg, which have each flourished for more than 10 years, including www.WholesaleJanitorialSupply.com, www.TouchFreeConcepts.com and www.TrueBlueLifeInsurance.com.
- Jon Lieber, “Thumbtack Survey: Small Businesses Cautiously Optimistic Heading Into the Holidays;” Thumbtack; December 2015. https://www.thumbtack.com/blog/ess-nov-15/.
- “15 economic facts about millennials;” The Council of Economic Advisers; the White House; October 2014. https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/millennials_report.pdf.
- 2015CF–Crowdfunding Industry Report; Crowdsourcing.org. http://www.crowdsourcing.org/editorial/global-crowdfunding-market-to-reach-344b-in-2015-predicts-massolutions-2015cf-industry-report/45376.
- Ryan Holmes, “5 Social Media Businesses Trends You Need to Know For 2015;” LinkedIn; January 2015. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-social-media-businesses-trends-you-need-know-2015-ryan-holmes.