The start of a new year is the catalyst that many of us need to pause, reflect and refocus. There are 823,551 small businesses in Australia, and you’re not alone if you find it a challenge to step outside of the daily grind to consider the big picture. It is something that can easily fall off the ‘to-do’ list day after day, week after week. But, taking the time to work on your business (not just in your business) is essential to getting ahead and staying ahead in 2021.
The hard truth is – a recent study found that 42% of small businesses fail due to a lack of market demand. While that might seem like something that you can’t control, it comes back to having a clear plan and business strategy in place. By keenly understanding your target market, their needs and priorities, then assessing what other businesses in your industry are doing, and identifying areas of growth and opportunity (or point of difference), you’re well on your way to a better year.
Focus on how you can best serve your customers
As your business grows and evolves, so will the needs of your customers. While you might have identified your ideal target market when launching your business, this group of potential buyers may have changed since you first put pen to paper, particularly after the events of 2020. That’s why it’s critical to consistently research and redefine your target market.
Customer feedback can be quite literal *gold* for small business owners. Why? Because it helps to identify exactly what your customers love (or don’t love) about your business. Their honest, direct feedback can give your business a sense of direction and purpose. Plus, hearing their insights and feedback can help spark new ideas, products, and services.
Take Apple, for example. The tech giant makes product feedback a priority by collecting customer feedback through the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system. This system asks customers a simple question: How likely are you to recommend this business to a friend or colleague? Or perhaps take ride-sharing service Uber who facilitates real-time feedback through its driver and passenger star rating system.
While you likely don’t have the budget or brand awareness of an Apple or an Uber, there are plenty of places you can look for the goldmine that is customer feedback. Try:
- Check your Google or Facebook reviews to see what customers or clients have been saying about your business.
- Review social media comments and direct messages to see what common themes, questions, concerns, or pain points consistently come up.
- Take a look at your social and website analytics to see how your customers are engaging with your business –
- What content do they engage with?
- What blog posts or web pages do they bounce from?
- What social media posts do they save or share with their friends?
- Reflect on your products and services to identify which parts of your business are the most and least profitable. Chances are, your most popular services and products are more relevant to your target market
With this customer feedback and insights in mind, consider ways to refocus your business on the needs of your customers. If your target market is loving certain content, figure out how to do more of it or create complementary products or services.
Capitalise on the opportunities in your industry
No matter what industry you’re in, the way you do business is constantly changing. From new products to emerging technologies and new competitors (more on that next), staying in touch with what’s happening in your industry is essential to getting (and staying) ahead as a small business.
So, what does ‘staying in touch’ really look like? It’s all about keeping tabs on current and emerging trends in your industry and being aware of new opportunities that might be on the horizon. That means subscribing to industry blogs and email newsletters, attending in-person or virtual conferences, joining industry Facebook Groups and keeping an eye on the news. Staying up-to-date with the latest news and developments in your industry gives you the best chance of keeping your business relevant and the doors open.
When you see new trends emerging, ask yourself:
- What opportunities does this change present for my business
- What will this new trend mean for my business now and in the months to come?
- Are there ways I can future-proof my business against any negative consequences of this new or emerging trend?
- What new products, services, or strategies can I implement to make the most of this new trend?
- What is standing in the way of us being more flexible, adaptable and willing to innovate?
Stay in touch with what your competitors are doing
The most successful businesses realise that their direct ‘competitors’ offer enormous opportunity for them to get ahead and stay ahead. While we’re big fans of ‘community over competition’ and believe that there’s room enough for all of us to survive and thrive – keeping an eye on what others in your landscape are doing can be really useful.
Think about it like this: your customers are weighing up between buying from you or someone else doing something similar. By knowing what others in your field are offering, and knowing how you’re different – you can find ways to offer smarter, simpler, and more attractive solutions for your potential customers based on what their key needs are.
Rather than seeing this as an exercise of comparison or competition, try approaching competitor research as a way of identifying new and exciting opportunities. It’s about finding creative ways to improve your products and offer services that others may not have tried before. By understanding what others in your industry are doing, you’ll be more likely to create a unique offering that stands out and offers real value to your customers.
By taking the time to ‘stop and smell the roses’, or ‘look at what others in your industry are doing’ as the case may be, you’ll put yourself in the best position to get ahead and stay ahead in 2021. Ultimately, grabbing hold of the opportunity to develop and refine your business strategy with proactivity and agility will keep your business aligned with market conditions and the needs of your customers no matter what the future has in store.
If you’re looking for ways to set your business up for success this year, BASic Bookkeepers’ team of qualified bookkeepers and BAS agents are here to help. Get in touch by giving us a call on 1300 852 575 or submit an online inquiry here.