Small business owners have their work cut out for them, especially in the first few years of business. While the odds may seem like they’re stacked against you, there are many common business problems and challenges which can be tackled and fixed. It may just come down to taking a step back, understanding the pain points and pivoting on strategy. So here are the five main small business challenges, and potential solutions to turn things around.
1. Creating a customer base
Finding customers is not just something you as the small business owner has to worry about. The brightest and the biggest companies out there like Vodacom and Woolworths aren’t just sitting around and waiting for customers. They are always out there, mining the environment and drawing customers in. So where do you start and what resources do you allocate to this mammoth task?
Solution: The most important first step in creating your customer base is understanding who your customer actually is. There is no point in spraying your messaging randomly into the wilderness and hoping for the best. So start by building your buyer personas and understanding what your target customers do, like and where they spend their time online. Once you have this picture clear in your mind, you can then spend time curating messages they care about and drawing them in one by one.
2. Building brand awareness
If your customers have never heard about you, how on earth can they buy from you? There are important strategies you can implement to spread the word about who you are and what you do. This will help you build a good reputation, one customer at a time.
Solution: There are two highly effective ways to do this:
- Co-marketing: This is when you partner with another brand to get exposure and inherit some of their reputation and image value. This will help you gain a hight volume of new contacts which can then feed into your organic marketing plans.
- Blogging: When you offer value to your community, they will come to trust you and this will turn into sales. Blogging is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and build brand awareness. It will also drive traffic to your website which in turn will convert to leads. Further to this it helps you establish you as an expert in your field. This is a crucial aspect that leads to the next important point below.
3. Build your mailing list
You need to stay top of mind with potential customers. This happens by building trust and showing that you consistently deliver on what you’re promising. The ongoing issue you have is that the average mailing list degrades by around 23% per year, this means that even once you have a substantial list in your arsenal, you need to be increasing it by a quarter every year, just to maintain it. As a marketer too, your job is to constantly and consistently find innovative ways to find those potential customers. Remember there are no shortcuts here. Buying email lists doesn’t work and can actually harm your IP reputation.
Solution: Rather than purchasing a list, create opt-in mailing lists. This is where you invite potential or existing customers to offer you their email addresses so you can then send them your emails. You can activate this by getting a form builder or other conversion tool on your communications. Once you pair these tools with great content, your customers will want to subscribe to you, buy into the subscriber option and you will slowly start to build momentum.
4. Generate leads
Lead generation is a shared challenge for all small businesses. This means finding potential customers that are of high quality and quantity. These are what turn website visitors into potential customers.
Solution: The first thing you need to do is optimize your website to encourage conversations. Remember that your website is the most important tool you have at your disposal. This comes down to how well your website guides your visitors to take action. It needs to have tools that pull subscription submissions and builds database. It also requires great landing pages for campaigns and rich ongoing blog content.
5. Working capital
Working capital is like air for your business. Without it, you won’t have the cash on hand to grow your business when opportunities arise or fund basic requirements like website and infrastructure. All the points raised above take time and money to happen. But there are ways to gain access to working capital to self-actualize the big plans you have for your small business.
Solution: The best way to use your working capital is for growth enhancing activities. So instead of plugging holes, use it to build your business with activities like buying new equipment, investing in your website activities or building product lines. There are ways for small businesses to gain quick access to working capital with a cash advance from Merchant Capital. This is a fast and simple working capital solution where your business can pay back the loan in line with turnover and get access to funds within 48 hours.
The bottom line
Small businesses have a host of difficulties on their doorsteps. Fortunately, though, there are many who have walked the line before you. So, while there are many challenges, there are also many tried and tested solutions. For more information on how we can help fund your small business solutions contact Merchant Capital today.