Guest Post by: Hilary Smith
No matter what you may think you know about running a business in this day and age, there may be a few incredibly vital pieces to the puzzle of success that you have not yet considered. While being successful may sometimes be a matter of just getting lucky, luck is a factor that nobody has control over.
What modern small businesses need to focus on in order to thrive is what they do have control over, and everything that can be done to improve the odds of future prosperity. In fact, considering the future is perhaps the most important step you can take in order to ensure the progress of your young company.
What Does the Future Hold?
This is the question that few businesses, especially startups, actually ask themselves. Most businesses would prefer to focus on making as much of a profit as they can in the present, but they often risk their future status as a trustworthy and reliable business by doing so. This is a mistake that you definitely don’t want to make as you continue opening your doors for business.
Ingredient #1: A Business Plan for Scalability
In order to avoid catastrophe, you will need to consider the scalability of your business. Will you be able to handle an increase in demand for your services without incurring too large of a cost? Are you using the right technology to give your customers what they want? Will your employees be able to handle an increased workload if need be, or will you need to hire more people? These are all issues that can bury young companies if they do not consider how they will scale in the coming years.
As tempting as it can be to focus on the here and now (giving customers what they want now and making money in the process), the truth is that you also need to have one eye constantly looking forward. Focusing only on the present is like driving without keeping your eyes on the road. If you’re not paying attention to where you are headed, you will risk the future viability of your brand.
Ingredient #2: An Effective Communication Strategy
Believe it or not, even large companies fail to effectively communicate with their customers. In a day and age where there are so many different methods for communication, this is an unforgivable sin. In particular, modern businesses and media-based businesses need to start taking social media more seriously and looking at how they reach out to their customers through this new medium. Even if you think you’ve got the perfect plan when it comes to social media outreach, it would be worth taking a second look and ensuring that your approach is as strong as possible.
Ingredient #3: An Integrated Customer Service Plan
Regardless of how many customers a business gets, if their needs aren’t being met, don’t expect them to put your brand on a pedestal. Many businesses still place high value on word-of-mouth advertising, and the fact of the matter is that your business’s level of customer service can make the difference in someone buying products and services from you or buying them from the competition. It’s important to make every customer feel as if they are the most important customer, but that, of course, takes time and resources. While it may seem unrealistic to be able to answer every call and email promptly, this is why many businesses today are starting to integrate their customer service with social media.
In the digital age, many customers also find it much easier to get in touch with a business through Twitter or Facebook than to pick up a phone only to be put on hold. And as the customer service center continues to shift towards a customer experience center, unified communication systems are becoming more simplified way of communicating across various channels.
Upgrade and Improve Your Business Strategy
Ensuring a successful business model today and into the future will require a lot of work. Although it will be important to consider the scalability of your start-up, it will also be important to upgrade your infrastructure and prepare to give your customers what they want now and what they will soon want. In a world where so much business is done on mobile phones and through social media, it will be important to consider how you approach both of these audiences.
Modern audiences now look at your Facebook and Twitter profiles as the face of your company, especially if your company is involved with media. When searching the web for services like yours, they will most likely have a lot of questions that they will want to have answered as quickly as possible. While it is integral to present your most important information wherever you hope to communicate with customers, your company should also be prepared to answer any and all questions and concerns that they get in a timely manner, no matter where those questions originated. In other words, if someone asks you a question on Twitter and you’re not prepared to answer it there, it might be time to rethink your strategy.
Far too often, young startups and small businesses neglect their audiences and avoid communicating with them on a consistent basis. A successful media business will listen to their user base and establish an open line of communication. If you believe in your company, you need to present it in such a way that others will see its value. Give them a reason to keep coming back and they will do so.
Hilary Smith is an online journalist and tech enthusiast living in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to discussing the various components that make a business successful, her writing also covers social media marketing, business communications and globalization.