As a small business owner, it’s important to differentiate yourself from the competition, but doing so often comes at a hefty cost.
According to the Small Business Administration, just below half of all small businesses survive for five years and just one in three stay afloat for over a decade.
The importance of being financially conscious cannot be understated, yet it’s crucial to gain a competitive edge if you have any hope of growth.
In fact, Forbes listed competition as one of the two main reasons that small businesses fail.
Fortunately, it is possible to be both competitive and financially conversative through smart marketing decisions, careful money management and providing the best possible service.
Put profit first
The Profit First system is an increasingly popular cash management method for small businesses. Typically, profit is calculated as income minus expenses. However, according to the Profit First method, profit should be deducted first, so that your expenses budget is the leftover amount.
This style of money management is based on the principle that your spending will expand according to the amount available. By deducting profit first, you automatically become more disciplined and fiscally conservative.
The Profit First system encourages business owners to reduce their spending according to what is strictly necessary. This will therefore encourage you to make shrewd financial decisions and remain conscious of your spending.
Improve your SEO score
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is crucial in leading potential new customers to your website. People who use search engines aren’t looking for your business, they’re looking to solve their own problems. However, by properly optimising your website, you can make sure that your website ranks highly on the results page and thus generate more traffic.
SEO is a science unto itself but if you’re not yet in a position to hire an expert, you can still take advantage of the many free tools and techniques out there. One simple way to boost your score is to regularly publish content to your site – the more pages and blog posts you have, the more likely you are to attract new viewers.
Keyword research is an effective way of improving your SEO score and there are plenty of free tools out there to help with this, such as Soovle and Ubersuggest.
Be sure to compress your images to ensure that your site loads quickly and optimise your headlines using free tools such as CoSchedule.
Invest in content marketing
Content marketing is a low cost way of making sure that your small business stands head and shoulders above the competition.
As a busy business owner, it’s advisable to outsource your content creation to a freelancer, and doing so is relatively inexpensive when you compare this cost to the value of your own time.
Social media sites themselves are free to use and it costs nothing to upload blog posts to your existing website.
This style of marketing keeps your potential customers’ eyes firmly on you. More than that, it allows you to differentiate your business and demonstrate why your company is unique.
By creating entertaining and informative content, you can position yourself as an expert and ensure that your business stands out from the crowd.
Improve customer experience
Last, but certainly not least, you must provide excellent customer service in order to ensure that your business is truly competitive. It’s important to go above and beyond to provide your customers with a great experience that they can’t find elsewhere.
Research by Forrester found that superior customer experience drives revenue growth in businesses that provide a differentiated experience. Furthermore, a study by the Harvard Business Review found that customers who had an enjoyable customer experience spent an average of 140% more.
Improving customer experience should always be a priority for businesses who wish to be competitive. Start by simply having conversations with your customers and listening to them – what are their pain points? What are their wants, fears and aspirations? How can you make the journey simpler for them?
It also may be worth asking your customers to complete a feedback survey, but be sure to offer them an incentive to do so, such as a discount on their next purchase or extra loyalty points.
This will provide you with actionable data that you can use to improve your customer experience going forward.
A balancing act
Running a small business is certainly a balancing act between being financially conscious and striving to outdo the competition. Employing a cash management system such as the Profit First method will create a spending framework that will keep you financially conservative and allow you to then focus on customer generation.
By improving your SEO score and harnessing the power of low-cost content marketing, you can improve brand awareness and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Meanwhile, providing an excellent customer experience will encourage repeat business, build a solid reputation and encourage your customers to spend more, thus allowing you to grow.