Small businesses fail. About twenty percent fail in the first year, and half who have employees fail within five years. These grim statistics happen for a lot of common reasons: Poor management, insufficient capital, lack of planning, overexpansion, and more. But as technology permeates our lives, and the economy, you may forget some of the reasons that relate to that technology.
Here’s some to keep in mind.
1. No Website.
Despite the decades that have passed since the web started, some people feel a company website is optional. It’s not. Your business needs to be present on the web, and the more the better. If you don’t know how, or can’t afford to hire someone who does, there are tutorials on how to create a website. You can even find articles that show you exactly how to create an online store if you’re interested in selling your products online.
At the bare minimum, you need to be able to be found on the web, have contact information that will actually reach you, and update your site when the information changes. You can get a lot more benefit with more than that, but that’s the minimum. Not having a website is as bad as not having your company in the phone book was twenty years ago. If you still remember phone books.
2. No Social Media Presence.
Another important part of your presence on the internet is on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are great ways to interact with your customers and to reach out to new ones. While not quite as fundamental as a website, they are running a close second. You need a way to talk with your customer base, and social media allows you to do it with ease.
You can benefit even more by using it to reach out to that immense potential customer base. This is the modern word of mouth advertising that businesses used to crave, made easy. Brands can even use influencer marketing to strengthen your following.
3. No Advertising or Marketing Online.
You may have noticed the emphasis on the internet and the web so far. That’s only because it is critical in today’s economy. Failing to run marketing campaigns online, or to advertise there, is going to put you behind every company that does.
To succeed you need to use all the most effective methods of marketing your business. There is a dizzying variety of ways to do this online and skipping them may doom you.
4. Failure to Track or Measure Marketing.
Once you begin marketing online, there’s another step. Measure the success of that effort. Tools like Google Analytics are in place to help keep track of how effective any marketing campaign is. Put more effort into the ones that work and modify the ones that aren’t working. But if you don’t keep track, you can’t react, and if you can’t react, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
5. Failure to Anticipate or React to Change.
The times, they are a’changing. They always have been, but it’s sped up exponentially since the early days of the digital revolution. It’s hard to get ahead of that curve and figure out what will happen next. But once you see it, you have to figure out what to do next. If you ignore change, you will fall behind. And the farther you fall behind, the more chance of failure.
6. Failure to Adapt and Grow When Market Changes.
Once you see a change in the market you need to make some hard decisions about what your business will do. Failing to adapt to fundamental changes in the market may leave you in the position of buggy whip makers when the automobile took over as the transport of choice. Pay attention to the changes technology brings to your market and grow into the spaces this opens up. These can be opportunities to thrive, or opportunities to fail. Choose wisely.
7. Lack of Differentiation.
The internet has brought a subtle problem to our lives. How to you provide a unique value proposition when competing against companies all across the world? Once you would only have to compete locally. If you provided a unique product for your area, or a better service, you could survive. But take a lesson from the local independent bookstores in competing again Amazon. You can’t just keep on business as usual. You have to provide something they don’t, and you have to remember your potential customer can pick and choose from companies all around the world to buy from. Make sure you stand out, or you’ll go under.
The world has changed. It always does. But this doesn’t have to be a surprise. Track metrics, and keep up to speed on market trends. Know what’s coming next. If you can keep up, you can succeed.
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