How do you define success in business? Well, everyone has their own definition of success. But does it really matter? The truth is that no matter how you view success, you’ll find 80 factors that have turned ordinary ventures into a profitable brand.
Image source: makingittv
If you’re a small business owner, aspiring to expand, I wrote this post because of you. If you’re already running your own retail store (business) or planning to, you’ll benefit from this post.
Note: these are also good small business tips that will work for any brand. Popular brands like Apple, Google, Yahoo, StarBucks and so on were once small businesses, before they scaled through and now, the whole world reckons with them.
You’ve to start somewhere. And these success factors are critical at this point in time.
I’ve segmented each of the factors and given outline as well. This way, you can put to work what you learn. Good luck:
Efficient Customer service
1. Keep customers contacts safe: your customers are your greatest assets. You have to treat their data like an egg. Secure it. You can use infusionsoft to store & manage their data efficiently.
2. Get your daily tasks organized: “Crossing off a checklist can get you organized,” says Elizabeth Larkin. You can’t do everything all at once. As an entrepreneur who cares about daily sanity and productivity, start by simplifying your tasks and focus on the most important ones.
3. Listen to customers & educate them: you have to work real hard to gain mastery of the noise out there. What you need is to listen to your customers more often and educate them.
4. Consistently answer customer questions: obviously, by the time you listen, you’ll find questions that require urgent attention in your market. And that is what your customers want you to address. Will you?
5. Leverage CRM solutions: since 2012, I’ve been using infusionsoft for my customer relationship management solutions. It saves a lot of time, helps me to get organized and above all, it’s great for sales automation.
6. Get a helpdesk app: while on the go, you can always handle customer complaints through your smart phones/mobile phones. All you’ve to do is to download a helpdesk app and install it. SpiceWorks is awesome.
7. Engage customers on Facebook: facebook offers a great small business help to those who don’t know where to begin. It’s true that social media is the wave of tomorrow’s business, which is why you should engage customers just like Nokia.
8. Get customers updated on Twitter: the impact of twitter on brands is so much. Unlike facebook where you can build engagement with customers, twitter is a micro-blogging platform and it’s great for giving updates on products, events, project and so on.
9. Over-deliver on what you promised: in 2007 when I started my first company, the best small business advice I got was, “under promise, over deliver.” It may sound obvious, but that’s what sets builds interest and trust with customers. Learn more.
10. Handle refunds & address complaints: every business: large or small at some point will encounter complaints and unhappy customers. Your duty as the business owner is not to make excuses, but to handle refunds properly and address complaints.
Effective Work Organization
11. Use cloud storage and sharing: yes, the world of business is changing so rapidly. So you have to adapt to using cloud storage and sharing solutions. That’s what dropbox is there for. I’m sure there are thousands of other small business cloud storage solutions out there.
12. Use Evernote to take notes: when in a business meeting or just out there in a restaurant, an idea that could transform your life/business might drop in your head like a bed in a nest. What if you don’t have a writing material? That’s why you need Evernote. Try the free version if you’re tight on budget.
13. Manage your books well: when running an online business or a brick-and-mortar venture, you have to deal with a lot of paper works like inventory, invoicing and so on. On your own, you can’t do manually, but with solutions like FreshBooks, it can be fun.
14. Be punctual to work: according to Quora, punctuality does affect productivity. Owning a small business isn’t a prestige or great feat, it’s about the impact you make on people’s lives. When you start showing up early, customers will trust you to address their questions earlier.
15. Start using electronic receipts: you don’t have to dwell in the 80s or run your small business like a Stone Age man. There are electronic receipts solutions out there like Neat, use them and save your head.
16. Clear your office desk: I don’t know how much impact this would make in your productivity and effectiveness, but personally, I hate to work in a cluttered desk. Clear your office desk, be clean.
17. Hire passionate people: some people out just out there to pull your small business down. You’ll know them during interviews, because all they care about is how much they’ll make and not what they can bring in to your life. Make sure you hire passionate people who believe in your vision.
18. Fire lazy staff: avoid sentiments in your business, if there is a staff who doesn’t perform his duties like s/he’s been instructed to, don’t look back – throw fire at them and be like Donald Trump (l love him).
19. Delegate and get feedback: when you delegate work to someone in your team, you’ve to get feedback from that person. Otherwise, how would you make smart business decisions that will lead to great customer service and sales increase?
20. Work with a trained team: the best approach to achieving more in your small business is working with other people who have the same training like you. As much as you can, train your team – get them ready. Then fire on…
Social Media Marketing
21. Understand the word ‘social’: you have to interact with customers – this is one of the keys to effective small business management. We can’t discuss small business success factors without taking advantage of social media. Your customers now resort to facebook, twitter, linkedIn and other platforms to read your profile, before buying your product.
22. Get a twitter handle: just sign up on twitter and get a handle that you can use to connect with your target audience. Whether or not you sell a particular product now doesn’t matter – get started building that connection with potential buyers.
23. Learn to use social media CRM tools: real success in business comes from automation. In other words, manual labour is rapidly giving way for CRM, inventory and project management tools. Do you know how to use the best CRM software to grow your small business?
24. Schedule messages with Sprout Social: because of the limited time you have and so much to accomplish in a day, you can’t afford to manually send tweets & facebook updates. However, you can use Sprout Social or Hootsuite.
25. Set up a Company Fan page: it doesn’t get better than that. If you don’t have a company fan page yet, then you’re doing your small business a disservice. Facebook is a trusted site, and if you brand your fan page, it can rank in Google top 10 – thus sending you more qualified customers.
26. Let the target audience know about you: social media marketing is a great way to push your brand out there. Your target audience (customers) will now know you and why they should buy your product.
27. Focus on major social media platforms: to avoid social media addiction which is not good for your long-term success, focus on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you want to share images, Pinterest is your surest bet.
28. Run facebook ads campaigns: you need to also run a facebook ads campaign. This is a pay per click advertising system. I’ve used it in the past, and got fresh customers for my time management app.
29. Connect with customers with LinkedIn: In 2013, I realised that small business owners can do better on LinkedIn, than facebook and twitter combined, because LinkedIn is constantly tweaked to align with business objectives.
30. Pin awesome images at Pinterest: not just some nerdy images or product graphics, but real images that will build your brand. Pin them on your board and you’d get loved by that.
Market Research & Analysis
31. Speak to your primary audience: do yourself a big favour. Speak to the primary audience that will likely receive your message and buy your product. For instance, if you sell golf clubs, stop trying to convince non golf players to buy, focus on real life players.
32. Conduct a keywords research: there are so many keywords research tool out there. I like Google keywords planner. Occasionally, I use wordtracker. Which one do you use?
33. Spy on your competitors: Spyfu, Opensiteexplorer.org and even Majestic are some of the spying tools out there. Get to know who your competitors are, and what they’re doing that you need to improve on.
34. Study how customers buy products online: what are customers currently buying? Listening to them is awesome, but when you study what they spend money on at every point in time, you’ll increase conversion rate.
35. Understand sales psychology: there is a mindset you have to have when selling a product online. The entire concept brings to mind a post at Copyblogger, on the psychology of selling. Master it, and you’ll ride in the wings of the Eagle.
36. Hang out with customers on forums: that’s what online discussion boards are designed to do for you – when you hang out, you listen more and understand your audience better.
37. Know your audience demographics: are your potential customers males? Did you know that knowing their demographics would help you send the right message to them? What if majority are females?
38. Study successful brands: Dell, Amazon, Coca-Cola and several other known brands can help chart the course of your small business management. Spend time to study how they manage time, people, sales and scope.
39. Extract feedback with surveys: services like SurveyMonkey can help you extract feedback and opinions from customers? Make you to make the questions simple, straight to the point and relevant to the product they want to buy.
40. Pull data from magazines: when you visit magazines.com, you can see trending topics that have been researched and edited to suit your kind of audience. Learn from them and make your better.
Create a Business Website
41. Register a domain name: small business branding begins with a domain name that customers can relate to. How you want to stand out in the crowd will be determined by your name online. Namecheap.com & Godaddy.com are my best registrars.
42. Sign up for a reliable web host: if you’re serious with your small business branding, don’t use a free web host – it’s a trap of failure. You’ve to sign up for a reliable web hosting like bluehost.com, hostgator.com, asmallorange.com etc.
43. Start a wordpress blog: right now, I’ve 3 active wordpress blogs. The reason I love wordpress is because it’s easy to use, and there are free resources and themes you can use to customize blog to your taste.
44. Choose topic to target: how can you possibly write on every topic in your industry? It’d be total disaster and you’re likely going to fail. If your industry is foods and beverages, then choose a particular topic and build an audience therein.
45. Write useful articles regularly: every small business owner is faced with the challenge to product useful and helpful articles on a regular basis. Make it count because content marketing is the new marketing tool online.
46. Tweet the article to your followers: once your article is published, tweet the link or a portion of it to your followers. You can use Hootsuite to schedule it.
47. Share the link for your facebook fans: In the same vein, share the link so your fans on facebook can benefit from it.
48. Encourage customers to write comments: your blog is where you cement the relationship with customers. Ideally, encourage them to write comments on your posts and share.
49. Don’t use free blogging platforms: as you avoid free web host, please run away from free blogging platform like blogger.com, wordpress.com and typepad.com. It’s better to invest $10 in a domain name, and control your online asset instead of building your house on someone else’s plot of land.
50. Own your brand: this is what Chris Brogan has been nailing on since I can remember. You’ve to own your brand. Don’t let other people dictate how you build, manage and network. You’re the CEO of your own brand. Own it.
Own An Online Store
51. Study the top online store builders: you have to own an online store yourself. It’s not difficult any longer and you don’t even have to write a single code. Services like Bigcommerce and Shopify are affordable. You can even try them out for free.
52. Preview their custom themes: before you go ahead to open an online store, you’ve to check their custom themes. Does it have the capability and features of what you’re looking for? Personally, I recommend Bigcommerce, because of their custom themes
53. Choose the shopping cart: but don’t take my word for it, you’ve to carry out your own due research. That’s the only way to know which online store builder is right for you, and what shopping cart features are there.
54. Decide what product to sell: here’s the big one – an essential small business success factor is deciding on a product you can sell. What product can you sell on your store? The choice is yours, but you’ve to make it before setting up an online store.
55. Research long-tail keywords: the truth is that your customers are searching for the product you’re selling on your online store. But if you try to compete against the big brands like Target.com, Ebay.com, Amazon.com and Wal-Mart.com, you might never succeed. Instead, target the long-tail keywords. That’s where easy ranking lies.
56. Set up the online store: having chosen your long-tail keywords, it’s now time to set up the online store. Remember that you’ve to add the primary keywords you want customers to find you with. E.g. if you sell Nike Shoes, your keywords can be, ‘best nike shoes for women, buy nike shoes online’ etc.
57. Source for products and fill it: depending on the model you’re targeting: digital or physical product, you’ve to source them. Online store is usually great for physical products and you can source for products at Alibaba.com
58. Increased visibility for your business: an online store gives your small business an increase visibility. That’s why you have to set up one today.
59. Another viable marketing channel: you can market your products through social media, search engines and even blog outreach. And when you own an online store, it opens up another viable marketing channel for you.
60. Your business is open 24/7: most brick-and-mortar businesses are usually closed on weekends. But an online store is open 24/7 and you know what that means for your small business? Well in case you don’t know – it means more sales.
Project Management Skills
61. Effective communication: a friend of mine renders small business consulting services in New York taught me the importance of effective communication. He once said to me, “if you can’t communicate well, your business is doomed!” How true?
62. Idea testing and verdict: among the project management success factors you should seriously learn is idea testing and verdict. It’s the process of testing an idea, using tools, resources, concepts and then deciding whether to move on or quit.
63. Ability to delegate tasks: can you delegate tasks to the right staff? If you can’t, then you have to get trained to do so. Because real successful business: large or small thrive as a result of effective delegation.
64. Unfeigned integrity: if you’re a project manager and every small business owner is, you have to have integrity. When you say a word, mean it because your team or subordinates are going to take it for it.
65. Develop enthusiasm in a project: passion for what you do is the secret of success. Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Tony Robbins are all successful today because they have developed enthusiasm for their projects. Have you?
66. Efficient team management: according to Berkeley, “a smart way to manage your team well is to consider each employee’s idea as valuable.” When you get feedback from your team, don’t trash it. Remember that no idea is use(less).
67. You’re able to work under pressure: most people are not able to work under pressure, but successful small business entrepreneurs have found a way around it. A tip for you: when pressure mounts, keep your calm.
68. Have the ability to multi-task: start-ups and IT business consultants will understand what this means. Can you handle multiple tasks at the same time? Sure, there you resources that can help you, such as this.
69. Become a detailed oriented project manager: don’t forget to observe the dots on any given project. You’ve to become detailed. That’s one of the qualities of a project manager, according to 99u.
70. A dose of technical skills: you don’t have to be a website developer to fix a small bug on your backend. You can learn how to online at Lynda or Udemy. Project success factors for small business owners technical skills and speed.
Sales and Persuasive Skills
71. Sales automation practice: the most important sales factor that would inspire more customers to buy is AUTOMATION. Like I told you earlier, you can use infusionsoft to schedule marketing messages that will go out to your customers daily.
72. Create premium packages: most small business owners are in a trap. They’re being underpaid for their art and valuable services to the world. Do you feel that you deserve to earn more from your efforts?
Then, create premium packages that provide immense satisfaction for your customers and at the same time brings in much more cash. Don’t price your product below $200 if you want to make a living as a small business owner.
73. Create valuable products: yes, premium packages would only work for your business if it comes with value. Spend quality time listening to your customers, then; create products that will solve their problems. Please don’t sell it cheap.
74. Collaborate to cross-sell: there are opportunities to sell more products and meet potential customers for your small business growth? However, it begins with you collaborating with other people. Stop the competition. Start complementing instead.
75. Reward customers for referrals: at every phase of your small business growth, you have to reward customers and inspire them to refer their friends and family. It’s high time you start using it.
76. Offer coupon codes: Amazon offers coupon codes to customers and you know what? It usually increases sales especially on Holiday shopping season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great Holidays to appreciate customers and inspire them to shop more.
77. Give away value-packed information for free: this solely depends on your industry and what your small business is all about. You could write e-book, short report or whitepaper and give it away to customers. Your focus is to educate, build interest and enhance the trust they have on your brand.
78. Offer backend products: front end products aren’t enough in this information age. Did you know that customers are asking for more solutions? You might not know that customers need more, until you recommend a complementary product to the one they purchased.
79. Build relationship with customers: the best way to build relationship with customers in your industry is to collect their email address.
I use Getresponse. Make sure to follow up subscribers with educational information and once the trust is there, recommend your product and create a sense of urgency to boost conversion rate.
80. Do more videos: According to this report, videos can increase conversion rate on your email list and sales. In fact, the more videos you create, the more authority you develop and that’s going to help convert more prospects into customers.
BONUS: Promote residual opportunities: instead of selling an e-book that brings one-time gains to you, one of the small business success factors that can catapult you into the passive income empire is residual business model.
Small Business Takeaway
Now you’ve the 100 small business success factors that have set thousands of top brands apart from the competition.
Research shows that 80% of small businesses fail in their first 18 months, only 2% thrives. Will you be among the 2 percent?
The choice is yours. Now that you want to succeed, you have been given the right technology tools and business intelligence to take it on. See you ahead!