So, you’re a small/medium business (SMB); not selling lemonade on the corner, but not taking over multiple floors of a skyscraper. You’re somewhere between that massive gap.
Besides the success you have already had, what can you do to ensure you, your business, brand, and staff continue to grow in a positive and sustainable way?
Be real, and make it a priority
Like every good rom-com will tell you, “be yourself, and it will all work out.” This is usually BS, but I promise it can work here (to a point, of course). It is important to show your identity through social media, sponsored events, community initiatives, and specialized campaigns to attract new/or a specifically targeted client. These posts and messages must be authentic and accurately represent the passion for the product or service. You may be busy running the whole show, but it should be a priority to build brand loyalty and ultimately, growth. Social media can be very effective in growing small businesses (cost and reach) and we see this with many examples: Love Jules Leather Shoe Company in East Vancouver Canada started small but are now in a comfortable space and used Instagram to reach and share their story/product. Each post shows character and their product. They talk about the highs/lows of small business, making shoes, and what they are trying to do. This connects with people and makes a purchase of their shoes more impactful than a simple transaction. The authenticity is an example of the connection that can be built through social media. This connection gives you leverage in that split-second decision when someone decides to buy your product or choose you over a larger/similar competitor. Look to other SMBs for advice and inspiration and then put your own spin on how those principles can be applied to your business.
Treat your staff well, and be sure they believe in your goals
Sales can be a tricky field, but it is almost impossible to close if the seller doesn’t believe in the product or service. Whether it be small hints or cues, to outright telling someone not to buy it, people are attuned to pick up on hesitation when someone is pitching them. They may not know it, but they will feel it and decide accordingly. Ensure your staff is on board, by having an open dialogue to improve, change, or discuss issues with the business or product. Back up the product, get your team as excited as you are, and the sales will follow.
Tackle criticism head-on – and get creative
When you begin to grow, cracks start to show. This is a good thing, as it gives you an opportunity to learn and improve. However, sometimes the damage can be difficult to undo. Whether it be a bad employee, burned bridges, faulty products, or negative perception, some obstacles can harm a business for some time. It is important to acknowledge this and tackle it directly.
Recently, we saw an example from a large business. Tim Hortons, a Canadian coffee chain similar to Dunkin Donuts, opened a fake café under a false name to highlight their ability to get rave reviews on their new product. They have been criticized for having ‘standard coffee’ and are generally shunned by a Starbucks consumers who prefer specialized coffees. In Canada, Tim Hortons owns small towns and highways, while Starbucks claims larger, urban markets. To get more traction in this market, and introduce their specialized coffee menu, Tim Hortons addressed this pre-conceived idea of their coffee through a costly, but creative and effective campaign to counter it. Kudos to them for addressing criticism, building a counter argument, and simultaneously taking on their competition in one campaign.
Keep learning, but don’t be afraid to address the bad things, and get creative with solutions.