We can all agree that the pandemic taught us a lot. Even though the lessons were not ideal, they taught us how resilient we can be and how innovative we can be when faced with adversity. We have learned a lot about ourselves, our businesses and our customers. But most importantly, we have learned how to accept the inevitable. We are tough, dedicated, and still standing.
Here’s to all small business owners! You are a legend for your ability to adapt and learn. What were the most important lessons that we learned in 2021 There was a lot of wisdom out there, and it’s hard to argue with that. But, to keep it short, we boiled it down to five.
5 Best Small Business lessons
We look forward to 2022 and the possibilities that it will bring. The lessons we have learned can be used again to adapt to our businesses and keep them strong, even in uncertain times.
1. The benefits of new ideas are immense
Let’s face the facts: Whether there was a pandemic or not it was time for work to be reorganized. Large companies already pursued remote work, distributed workforces, or worked with freelancers.
This approach was good for employees and the bottom line. It was more productive if there were jobs that could easily be done at home. Many companies wondered why they didn’t do it sooner.
It gets even better. It opened up new possibilities for small businesses everywhere, as most people, businesses, customers, and businesses are now familiar with virtual solutions such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft online meetings.
Even companies that used to operate face-to-face found that they could cut costs, improve service delivery and delight their customers by going virtual.
Here are some examples:
- To improve their returns, retail stores created subscription boxes and partnered with third-party logistics firms.
- Virtual inspections were first conducted by insurance companies, contractors, as well as interior designers.
- To encourage online shopping, eyeglass companies have created virtual try-on apps as well as step-by-step guides.
- Virtual check-ins were implemented by hotels.
- Restaurants and bakery posted their menus online, inviting customers to use QR codes to access them. To reduce staff burden, some restaurants and bakeries even offered self-ordering and pre-ordering options.
- Online classes were a great way for fitness trainers and gym owners to keep their clients healthy.
You can find many more, but this is the main idea. These creative solutions were created by high-touch industries.
Virtualization was an option to make sure customers had a seamless experience, and to preserve a sense of normalcy in a world that was changing rapidly. These businesses were able to shift to a customer-centric mindset and their customers responded with loyalty.
2. Small businesses can learn from the big business systems and processes
Large corporations are known for having all their ducks in one row. They employ people to do specific tasks. Leaders surround themselves with experts so that they can always get great advice.
If you own a small business, it’s likely that you are doing everything yourself. It’s not as simple as it used be to hire staff to help you get through seasonal surges and crunch times. If you adopt a big-business mindset and follow their strategies, you will be ahead of the game instead of being behind the eight ball.
For a reason, the world’s most recognizable brands and corporations are in this position. They’re always looking for ways to improve. They anticipate customer needs and are familiar with their market. They are always ahead of the curve because they continue to look for better ways to do what is possible.
What does this mean for you as a small-business owner?
Many small businesses took advantage of lockdowns to review their business models and rethink their operations. They became very specific about the services and products they provided. They listened to customers and discovered ways to improve service delivery, reduce cost, and increase efficiency.
Here’s how it can be done:
Create or revise your business plan. Chances are you didn’t have a plan if you started your business fast during the pandemic. If your company is established, your business plan may be outdated. Your business plan is a living document, not a snapshot. Your projections and ideas may be out of date due to the rapid market change. Even in the face massive change, your plan should still be relevant.
Set quarterly goals. Planning is only possible with projections. However, forecasts are often based on past performance and cannot be used to predict what lies ahead. It’s important to set goals, both aspirational and conservative, that you can reach. It is also important to track your progress towards these goals , so that you can correct when necessary.
Consider your goals and the results that will show success. It is easier to digest quarterly goals. Instead of waiting until the end of the year, you can see results quickly. You can adjust your approach to achieve a specific objective or if it is not possible to deliver the results you want.
Automate as often as possible. Automation has become a common practice in the enterprise. Third-party cloud software has become an essential tool for small businesses. It is easy to use, inexpensive, and even essential. Automating repetitive tasks will reduce costs, eliminate errors and make customers happier. You can also reclaim valuable time which you can use to invest in higher-value activities.
You can automate many business processes, including bookkeeping, accounting and customer service.
ZenDesk automates customer support, so customers can get the help that they need 24/7. HubSpot allows you to automate marketing. Connecting your online store with logistics companies like ShipBob will help you fulfill your customers’ “Amazon” expectations.
If possible, delegate. It is not a good idea to do everything all by yourself. You shouldn’t do everything yourself. Even the most difficult tasks can be delegated. You can delegate graphic design, social media management and emails, as well as blog posts and other technical tasks, to help you focus on the things you are best at.
There is an endless supply of freelance talent available today. You have incredible expertise available through freelancing marketplaces such as UpWork or Fiverr. Even if you only need admin support for a few days, you will find it there. You can hire when you need it so that you can concentrate on what you do best.
3. Online business is more profitable
There’s no better time than now to explore the possibilities of doing more business online. You’ll reap many benefits if there is a way for you to do what you do online. You’ll reach more people without the restrictions of geography. You’ll also be eliminating barriers that might prevent people from attending a physical location.
Here are some ideas:
Virtual consultations. Virtual consultations are a great way to save time and money. Virtual consults are convenient because there is no need to travel and you can do more work in one day.
You’ll be able to tell right away if a client is a good match for you. This is especially important for business coaches and contractors as well as other service providers. You’ll save many hours each week if you can quickly determine whether the client or their project is worth your time.
Website. You’re missing a great opportunity to expand your business, increase sales, and build brand recognition if you don’t have a website. The website building tools of today are so simple that anyone can create a professional-looking webpage in no time. For inspiration, check out Invoice2go’s instant website feature.
Accept digital payments. Your cash flow may not be as good if you continue to accept paper checks. It is easy to set up digital payment processing through payment processors such as Stripe, Square, and Invoice2go.
Clients can pay instantly after they receive your invoice. You won’t have to wait for checks to arrive or not, and it will be easier to do business with your clients. Customers today want it their way. You need to meet them where they are.
Increase your online presence. Your website is only one part of an online presence. To build authority in your niche, you need social media pages, updated listings, reviews and ratings, as well as a blog. It is called “social proof” because people interact with your content and website, which in turn helps you organically grow your business.
4. Stay in touch with your customers and remain top-of-mind
There are many ways you can stay in the forefront of your audience’s minds , and not all of them require paid advertising. Here are some suggestions:
Use your email list. Email is a great method to reach customers who already know your products and services. You can build your email list to inform people about new products, services, promotions, or discounts.
Online reviews. Customers value online reviews, especially when they are shopping around or comparing prices. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on Facebook, Google Yelp, Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Google. Negative reviews should be addressed as well. It is important to show excellence by responding thoughtfully and being willing to do what it takes to fix things.
Create killer content. Blogs can be a great way for customers to get value and keep their minds occupied. Video content is very popular and highly engaging. Don’t be intimidated to use video marketing if you are new to it.
Set up a follow-up program. Don’t leave potential leads behind! To ensure that you don’t miss any opportunities, follow up on inquiries, social media engagements and content downloads. Even after the sale has closed, a follow-up is essential. Drop us a line to learn how they are using the product/service and what you can do for them to get more.
5. More than ever, brand and storytelling are important
Many companies went online during the pandemic. There is a lot to choose from, so it’s important to make your mark. Storytelling is a way to make your brand stand out.
Customers online have many options. What do they choose? It often comes down to an emotional connection. If you can make that connection–authentically–you’ll have access to an intensely loyal audience.
Think about your brand story. What is your “why?” What can you do to help? Customers will choose one brand over another if their values align.
Prepare for the unexpected
The future is unpredictable. This truth is also true. We can prepare for anything. These tips are intended to help you build the foundations of your small company so that you can withstand any unimaginable catastrophe.
Third-party apps can help you improve your efficiency. You can hire freelancers to assist you with your projects. Start giving your website a little love by creating a content collection that will keep visitors coming back. You can improve your cash flow with an automated invoice and online payment system. Pay more attention to what happens after the sale. This is what builds loyalty.
These five lessons in small business are what we hope you have enjoyed. Which one resonates most with you? Join our small business community for more insights and tips that will help you think differently and grow your business.
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