Succeeding in the business world today requires a mixture of creativity, willpower and top-notch organizational skills. Entrepreneurs need to think on their feet these days, and although there have never been more tools for success available to the business world, only rarely have we seen so many challenges. Many people start a business assuming that things will run on autopilot through a combination of their own charisma and daring, when in fact entrepreneurship draws upon a broad array of skills and talents. Avoid the pitfalls of starting your new business in tumultuous times by remembering these five key ideas.
1. Stay Ahead of the Tech Curve
Probably the most important driver of business success these days is technology. This is certainly true for companies that rely on e-commerce sales as their primary source of revenue, but the need to keep up with advancements in technology extends to all facets of the business world. Artificial intelligence, for example, is revolutionizing business analytics and planning by automating many of the mundane tasks that used to soak up valuable time. Smartphone applications regularly incorporate this technology which pairs automation with portability to empower both managers and workers in the field. Digital work progress tracking software is a prime example of this, but with advanced GPS technology available at our fingertips, little marvels like digital dispatching tools can streamline the deployment of company assets while giving owners peace of mind.
2. Perform Market Research
You'll never be able to sell a product or service to people you don't understand. Enter the fine art of marketing research which, at its core, is all about getting to know the people who make up the market that you intend to reach. This falls into two basic categories: quantitative and qualitative research. Quantitative research is numbers-focused and driven by statistics gathered through methods like email surveys and local demographic data analysis. Qualitative research hones in on the subjective experiences of customers and is typically the goal of focus groups and panel discussion Q & A sessions. There are many ways to design a marketing research campaign, so keep in mind the scope of the research and tailor your studies to the specific questions you need answers to.
3. Get Serious About Social Media
Social media savvy isn't just a passing fad. More than ever, businesses are relying on social media platforms not only as a way of marketing and branding themselves, but as a method of providing customer service. Sure, it's important to have a social media presence across multiple platforms operating as your virtual billboard, but online customer service is where the future is. It's a more personal method of interacting with customers than a call center can ever be, but most importantly it's fast and efficient. A recent Microsoft survey showed that customer service is a leading factor for a majority of people in determining their brand loyalty. Be timely and responsive, and you'll make a positive impression.
4. Protect Your Infrastructure
A major vulnerability for businesses is security. Physical security measures are critical of course, but many threats come in the form of cyber attacks which result in costly data breaches. According to CSO Online, the average cost to a business is around $150 per record lost in a breach, meaning that small businesses operating on slim margins are the most vulnerable to cyber crime. The solution is simple: don't skimp on antivirus and firewall software. Don't take security for granted either; have a formal company protocol for handling sensitive documents and internet usage and make sure that employees and management alike employ it.
5. Have a Solid Vision
Global communications company Cohn & Wolfe conducted a global survey in 2019 showing that around 9 out of 10 people would actively reward a brand that they perceived as authentic. Further, it showed that a full 52% of them would personally recommend that brand. Simply put, people care about the kind of company that they're purchasing goods and services from. Whatever your business is about, it needs to be about something more than profit. Ask yourself what legacy you intend to leave by providing the products or services that you offer. It's not enough to write this into a business plan; it must be ingrained into the culture of your entire operation. The same survey showed that protecting privacy and creating a good personal experience for consumers were two of the greatest factors in whether or not they saw a brand as authentic in the first place, so forget cheap marketing ploys that a cynical public won't fall for anyhow and just keep it real.
Running a successful business will always require hard work and dedication. The most important attribute, however, is a keen sense of awareness of the forces out there in the world that can either benefit or hold back the momentum of your business. By keeping in mind these few key tools and techniques, you'll be able to bring your A-game no matter what the world throws at you.