A small company will experience a lot of hurdles, especially in the first few years of business. Some challenges are more difficult to overcome, and it shows in the odds of survival. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 20 percent of small businesses fold up in their first year, 50 percent do so within five years, and 80 percent close within a decade of their founding. Provided, though, that everything is normal; with the COVID-19 pandemic dealing a blow to small businesses, those rates could rise dramatically.
When you put it in those terms, it is understandable why many owners are nervous about their business's first few years. Many of their concerns, though, have ready fixes. Search engine optimization for small businesses, in particular, have plenty of ready fixes that others have used to great success. All it takes is a little re-thinking, assessment, and strategizing. Here are some challenges that small businesses face and some advice on how to handle them.
1. Finding Customers Or Clients
This concern is not unique to small businesses. Even well-known companies like Apple or Nike have to put effort into finding new customers. Finding customers might be tricky for an established brand, but it can seem downright impossible for a new one, especially in a saturated industry. New business owners might not know how to prioritize channels for promotions and direct their resources.
Solution: Have An Ideal Customer
You will know how to choose where you promote your brand if you have an ideal customer in mind. It won't work to advertise everywhere; you must ensure that you're delivering your message to the right people. Before you begin, write down a profile of your target customers, and be as detailed as possible in brainstorming. Know where they gather online, what other brands they like, and what their concerns are. If you do, you can start creating content for places where they spend time.
2. Generating New Leads
Generating leads is another sticky point for small businesses. Your reach or audience size will not matter if you cannot get conversions out of it, and lead generation is the way to achieve that.
Solution: Optimize Your Website For Conversions
Make your website persuasive and convincing to people scouting for choices in your industry. Assess if your web pages guide people to action or leave them with nothing to do after reading or watching your content, and make changes if necessary.
Also, do you have a tool that collects form submissions and puts them into a database? Do you have landing pages for the campaigns you run and CTAs for each of your blog posts? Capturing leads also means securing contact information.
It's also vital to know what pages to prioritize. Often, only a few pages bring in most of the traffic; usually, these are the "Contact Us" page, the "About" page, and one or two popular blog posts. When you've figured out which pages get the most visitors, you can implement conversion tools on them like pop-ups, slide-ins, and hello bars.
All of these lead generation tactics need tools that do not come cheap. Fortunately, affordable or free lead management apps and software can help you cut costs.
3. Ensuring That Customers Return
The typical advice for ensuring customers come back is having a plan for customer satisfaction. However, you should aim for more and try to delight customers. Delighted customers are proactive; they will buy unprompted, write testimonials, and agree to case study interviews. They are also more likely to refer you to their friends and family. Achieving customer delight involves delivering unparalleled experiences, something that needs effort, even for established brands.
Solution: Get In The Right Mindset
While getting in the proper frame of mind won't automatically delight your customers, everything starts there. Since an SME has a smaller budget and audience than an established brand, it should modify its customer retention approach. Part of that is exercising empathy and understanding why customers chose you in the first place. When you know what they are looking for in your brand, it is easier to deliver and eventually exceed expectations. Distributing a survey or holding interviews with some clients should help you identify what they seek.
4. Ensuring The Right Workflow
Search engine optimization for small businesses involves more than having the right tools, people, and mindset. If you've managed to assemble the best team for your company, the next hurdle to success is figuring out a workflow that will enable you to scale. You want your team members to have the right tools and processes to finish their tasks efficiently. While you can monitor people and see if they're working properly or getting the support they need, you cannot do that at all times and for all team members at once.
Solution: "Meet" With Your Team Indirectly
As your business grows, you need to implement feedback mechanisms that scale—things like employee satisfaction surveys and one-on-one meetings with direct reports. Ensure that your direct reports speak with their direct reports and that you have skip-level meetings at times. Ask your teammates about threats to the company and issues that make them inefficient. Immediately address anything that comes up more than twice.
5. Ensuring That There Is Enough Resources
More time, tools, or personnel means better quality and efficiency, and smooth operations mean providing all the resources you need for the team to work. In a perfect world, you can provide everything your team needs to succeed. However, businesses have budget restrictions, which depend on the company's revenue and margins. It is challenging to improve your efficiency when working within limitations, but it's possible if you do not spend beyond your means.
Solution: Stay Lean, Especially In The Beginning
All businesses are different, but they all need to manage their cash flow. Staying on top of bookkeeping will allow you to use credit wisely and cut costs. Consider as well hiring an accountant or a financial advisor. Doing so allows you to analyze your financial decisions.
Small businesses face many challenges, and these are only some of them. Though it can be tough getting a small company up and running, you can plan for issues and mitigate their effects when you have solid strategies and planning. Complement your on-ground efforts with a robust plan for your digital marketing—search engine optimization for small businesses provides a foundation for that.
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