2020 was a tough, even devastating, year for small businesses across the country. As we begin a return to normal and celebrate Small Business Week this May 2 – 8, it’s an ideal time to take a deep breath, regroup and make a plan to rebuild and grow your business in 2021. Get started with these five ideas.
- Enhance your digital presence.
Online visibility is more important than ever. That certainly includes having an attractive, user-friendly website that looks good and works well across all digital devices — desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone.
It also means putting effort into search engine optimization (SEO), so your business appears when potential customers are searching for products or services like yours online or via smart assistants like Siri and Alexa. It’s also good to have a social media presence. Focus on one or two social sites favored by your target audience — whether you have your own page or use paid social advertising, or both.
- Improve efficiency and productivity.
You’ll find it hard to grow if your business is hampered by inefficient processes and lackluster employee production. The tactics you use to overcome these challenges will depend on the root cause of the problem.
However, you can start by looking for bottlenecks in your processes and solving them. For instance, can you automate part of your fulfillment or scheduling process? Or improve account management with online banking?
Next, review individual and overall employee performance. Are there interpersonal or inter-team conflicts you can help resolve? Do employees need more training so they can do their jobs better? Does morale need a boost?
- Brainstorm ideas for improving the customer experience.
Customer service and customer experience can be strong differentiators for your business and a primary reason for customers to keep choosing you. Looking for ways to improve both should be an ongoing business objective. This might mean finding new ways to add value to the customer relationship, such as identifying customer problems you can solve with new products or added services. Or look for ways you can make your customers’ lives easier and make it more convenient to do business with you.
- Emphasize finding and keeping the right team members.
The right employees can not only help your business remain efficient and productive, but can also challenge you to explore, test and innovate — all ways to help your business grow and thrive. When you search for new employees, look for those who connect with your mission statement and can fill skills gaps in your current team.
To keep good employees once you find them, discover what motivates each individual, what challenges they may be facing and what they feel they need to succeed. Then work together to find solutions. Be sure to provide recognition for work done well, ideas that help the company, risks taken and supportive behavior to other team members.
- Build new partnerships and community connections.
This includes working with outside resources when you have tasks your own staff doesn't have the skills or time to handle — maybe social media marketing, developing an e-commerce website or accounting. By giving these tasks to experts, you free your staff to focus on what they do best, while ensuring that those other business-building and business-supporting tasks get done well.
Connecting and partnering also means looking for ways to collaborate with non-competing small businesses. This could introduce your business to new audiences. Finally, don’t underestimate the value of being involved in your community, such as through sponsorships, volunteering or hosting neighborhood events.
Keep exploring to keep growing.
While these five ideas are good starting points, don’t stop here. Other growth ideas you might explore include researching new products, opening a new location or expanding your current one, or making your money work harder with interest-earning savings options.
Your team at Hancock Whitney can help you identify options and solutions that can support your business as it evolves and grows. For instance, we invite you to consider our Preferred Business Checking account, which can be an ideal upgrade for growing businesses. Click here to learn more.