In case you didn’t realise, it’s a tough ole’ world out there if you are a small business owner. Although small businesses form the backbone of the workforce in the United States, research indicates small businesses also fail at a rate that is nothing short of spectacular. Within the first year they are open, 30 per cent of new businesses fail. Fifty per cent of small businesses are gone before their fifth anniversary, and 66 per cent fail before their tenth year. The question is, how do you make your business one of the lucky ones that make it past the first, fifth, or tenth year and keep moving forward? One way may be through the use of technology.
Technology represents the playing field leveller for small and medium sized businesses in the United States. In fact, new technology can strengthen a business’s marketing, customer relationships, and customer engagements with your business. If you use technology, you instantly have advantages over people who don’t use technology in their business, which gives you an edge over your competition, especially if you are a company that is already steeped in the buying and selling of technological products. If you have technology, make sure you have the most technology possible that can grow your business faster, whether you have one employee, ten employees, or a hundred. Where do you start? Here are some suggestions.
Raise money for your business over the internet
In the old days, when you wanted to raise money for a new business or a new project, you asked friends and relatives to help you out with some of their nest eggs, in order to get a project off the ground. However, today’s technology means that you can crowdfund. Crowdfunding allows a larger group of small investors to contribute to building your business or a new product for your existing business.
While it is easy to scoff at crowdfunding, the facts are that crowdfunding apps have allowed many people with ideas to start small businesses. One business that sells wearable security systems for women that look like jewellery was funded through crowdfunding. Craft breweries have been started because of crowdfunding. One notable brewery in North Carolina was funded strictly through crowdfunding after the owner began selling his craft beers at fairs throughout the state. When the government lessened the restrictions on investing, it also allowed crowdfunding sites to proliferate. Crowdfunding allows potential investors (and customers) to invest a little money into an enterprise that may result in big returns for the business and the investor. If it doesn’t work out, the business hasn’t lost everything the owner put into it, and the crowdfunder has lost a little money on an investment, rather than a lot. It’s a win-win situation for both.
Get social on social media
In the 21st century, every business needs a social media strategy. Social media works to make small businesses look larger and draws customers to your business because of the sheer amount of time people spend on social media platforms. While in the past, businesses were able to just post on social media without really thinking about posting or timing, today every business needs a social media strategy to make sure you are getting your brand and product out. You can also use social media to interact with your potential customers and offer them discounts or information on products or services.
A social media strategy also ensures that your website and content are up to date, and pleasing to the eye, as well as an effective marketing tool to drive potential customers to you. If you think about it, the new advertising stream is not print or broadcast media. It is the internet and social media platforms, which requires the attention of a pro.
The first step in any social media strategy is to identify platforms or networks where your customers can be found, and then work with others to create an effective marketing strategy to engage them online with great products and content.
Adopt new technologies to streamline your business
Adopting new technology means that your business is adopting technology in order to support all facets of your business. For example, CRM software with G-suite integration can streamline the sales and marketing process and allow your teams to work together to develop new customers and market specifically to them.
There are many different kinds of technology out there, including CRM software that works with customer relationships. Other technology tools can streamline inventory management. Incorporation of technology also means that you can interact with your customers and solve their problems or answer their questions as quickly as possible.
Take your business into the cloud
While the cloud sounds like something mysterious, in reality, it offers cheap storage and other aids for small business at a fraction of what they used to cost. For example, using a cloud-based business phone system can accelerate your sales marketing and gives your company more room to grow exponentially. Because the cloud allows for the delivery of hardware and software storages via a network, it can tailor products to specifically target your business and the specific needs of your customers and your employees. One of the most important uses of the cloud is for security, as it provides backup for all of your systems, in case your network gets hacked--an increasing issue for small businesses in the 21st century.
While adapting to new technology can be scary for any new business, keep this in mind. All business takes their cue from Darwin. What that means is that all businesses, whether they are small or huge, must evolve. If businesses don’t evolve, they wither away and die. It may sound harsh, but it is a fact. Your small business needs to evolve to a constantly-changing landscape of customers, products and services. If you continue to deploy and adapt to new technologies, you have a far greater chance of surviving past your 10th anniversary than those businesses who can’t evolve. Evolving in business means that you stay ahead of that pack of other businesses that are behind you running to catch up.
Evan Morris, Networking Manager, MWR
Image source: Shutterstock/everything possible