Creating a thriving small business is an impressive achievement. Building one that stays clear of the competition is even harder.
While it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to create a business like this, there are basic principles you can implement every day to ensure you have everything in place to build a brand your competitors will be breathless to catch.
Here’s what you need to know:
Ensure you have full IT support
Don’t shortcut this. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to avoid the kind of embarrassing website crashes, irritating glitches and worrying data losses which regularly wipe businesses out overnight.
You could go it alone by hiring staff or training yourself as an IT expert, but this is time-consuming, costly and very risky. It only takes a little digital downtime for your competitors to catch up and for your customers to leave.
It is easier to use Integrated Computer Services to manage your IT. For peace of mind alone, working with experts may be worth it.
Bigger isn’t always better
It is tempting to imagine that if you reach out to as many people as possible, regardless of whether they want your product, then you’ll enjoy the best results. There’s a certain logic to this, but it’s flawed.
Instead, concentrate on concentration. This is to say, build a stronger customer base than your competition, not a larger one. It’s the difference between a TV show everyone watches for five minutes and then forgets about and a smaller show with an intensely passionate horde of fans. Which show do you think sells more merchandise?
Make your brand stand for something. Dare to be different. Don’t follow what every other business is doing just because it works for them. Build a loyal following of quality customers, and you’re almost certain to stay in front of your competition.
Who are you...and who are you not?
Building on this idea of individuality, you need to know what your brand is about, and what it’s not about. Don’t dress your business up as something it isn’t simply to attract more customers. This rarely works, and if it buys you a handful of sales, you’ll lose them all once your customers find out your brand isn’t being authentic.
For instance, if you sell shoes, don’t copy what you have seen a hat manufacturer promote, because it was a good idea for that particular brand. Find your own identity.
Focus on the details
Customer service, competitive pricing, ease of experience and the quality of the product are what you have to nail every time if you’re to build an industry-leading business. They are hard to get right and easy to get wrong. Don’t worry about the big ideas - new products, market expansion - until you get the basics right. Once your customers are happy, leaving positive reviews and coming back for more, then you can start thinking a little bigger.