by Joseph Brady, Senior Director of Digital Marketing for Reliant Funding
Starting a business, growing it and sustaining in the market are the three chapters of a small business story. Usually, small business owners don’t think beyond their quarterly or annual plans and they forget their long-term goals due to everyday hurdles.
Building a business needs strong strategy and value proposition. Each business will have its ups and downs but adhering to the following tips can help with sustainable long-term growth.
Have a Macroscopic View.
Every business comes with a long-term goal. That goal will not have anything to do with the everyday problems the business faces. As a small business owner it is important to understand this. Sustainable growth comes with macroscopic view of the business with focus only the long-term goal.
IBM, the king of the computing world did not build its hardware and software from scratch, but assembled hardware components and shipped in pre-loaded PCs with Microsoft Windows. This strategy of IBM started to fail once the market was filled with clones and fakes of their products. IBM, without crumbling to the challenge that they faced, went ahead and brought in innovative ways to grow their business. They focused on IT and computing services to reach their goals and build their business back.
Compromising on your business goals and values is not worth a quick fix for your day-to-day problems. Think out-of-the-box and bring creative ideas to overcome challenges that can otherwise destroy the business.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin
A sustainable business plan is one that is flexible. There is no point in having a rigid strategy for the business and crying foul when customers shift to a much more relatable brand/organisation.
Kodak is a classic example of a huge brand that collapsed when it failed to keep up with the evolving technology of the photography world. The company did not get into the digital space in the right time to capture the customers who were shifting from photo films to digital cameras.
Constantly update on the latest trends and likes of the younger generation to capture them and make them stay.
Focus on Customer Service.
Customer service is not a favour for the customers, it’s an opportunity for the business. Nurturing the existing customers is one of the main techniques for sustainable business growth.
Harley-Davidson is one of the brands that takes customer service very seriously. Once a Harley-Davidson is purchased, the customer becomes a member of the Harley Owners Group for life, where they can connect with other riders and also solve problems related to service or bike maintenance.
Happy customers are the easiest and cheapest marketing tools. They can spread the word about the business in the most trustworthy fashion as they have first-hand experience with the brand.
Don’t Wait For Failures to Hit Rock Bottom.
If a business strategy is going downhill, it’s not the time to crib and cry. It’s the right time to act. Play all the possible cards for turning the situation around. Failing is an integral part of any business, but overcoming it in the quickest possible way shows the strength of the business.
Sustainable growth is not a straight line graph. It is a graph with ups and downs that are never ending. Be proactive during the low points and take out immediate small business financing to help you boost your business. This is how businesses flourish for decades without making humongous profits year after year.
Welcome Constructive Criticism.
Some business and marketing strategies might be really close to heart. They might seem ground-breaking and amazing for everyone associated with the business. But, if it does not go well with the customers, it’s a flop. Accept it and move on. This can be the same for business models that have worked for decades. If it doesn’t work anymore, change it.
Recently, McDonalds shifted from plastic straws to paper straws after a twitter campaign went viral on how they use 1.8 M plastic straws a day in UK alone. This was a smart move from McDonalds, as the brand affinity will increase among its customers when they realise that the brand is actually listening to its customers.
Consider constructive criticism as angels in disguise. Modify business plans accordingly and do an A/B testing. If the modified version works, thank your gods for sending cost-free advisors.
Never Compromise on Quality.
Quality is not an act, it’s a habit. A business with impeccable product/service quality for the first few years which goes downhill after that is a business that is nearing death.
The trust in a brand is only built on seeing its consistency. No business decisions should affect the quality or the value system of the business. There is nothing more dangerous for a business than to lose their loyal customers because they don’t get the quality they used to get previously.
Exhibit Operational Success.
Chaos is integral in all compounded things and there is nothing more complex than running a business. Have a strong and efficient team that can ease out all the operational complications before it blows and takes a huge hit on your business.
Meticulous process flows, a well-aligned team and immediate backups for all the possible failures in the process are mandate for any business to survive in the industry radar.
In this digital world, technology is the best friend for small businesses. Hunt for all the latest technologies, tools and softwares that can help simplify and make all processes more effective.
All operations from bid to billing are available one click away with numerous tools and softwares available in the market today. This will help cut down the staffing and infrastructural costs immensely. Businesses can grow consistently if technology and staffs are equally used.
The competition is stringent for any business but surviving them all and sustaining the business for a long time should be the focus for any business owner. Intelligent planning, an unperturbed vision for the business and lastly immense confidence while taking every step towards your short-term or long-term goal will make the business sustainable and a success.
Joseph Brady is Senior Director of Digital Marketing for Reliant Funding, a provider of short-term working capital to small and mid-sized businesses nationwide. He has more than 14 years of experience in B2B digital marketing, optimization, and operations, with a focus on the financial services market.