Staying relevant in business is a challenge for any small business owner. Technological advances, market fluctuations, evolving customer expectations and budgetary restrictions all play a part on whether a business can continue to hold on to market share.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, there are four great challenges facing most Australian businesses – increased competition, finding the right staff, addressing the technology gap and valuing your products and services.
With these challenges in mind, there are many things you can do to address or even entirely overcome these issues. To cope with the challenging, fast-paced and competitive business environment, follow these handy tips that will help you stay ahead of the game.
Determine Your Value Proposition
According to market research firm Euromonitor, the quest for value now outweighs a customer’s decision to purchase goods and services. While it was once all about finding the lowest price, it’s now about finding the best value for money. Therefore, in order to remain relevant and visible in the eyes of your consumers, make sure you deliver perceivable value in your offering and price accordingly.
According to the latest KPMG Australian Pricing Survey, an effective pricing strategy can create competitive advantage and deliver top-line revenue growth to your organisation. KPMG partner of strategy and planning, Ronan Gilhawley, says: “Our findings confirm the notion that while businesses are comfortable creating value, and moving towards a value-oriented approach to pricing, they simply are not doing enough to capture that value.”
Consider as a whole the nature of your product, the quality, the materials, where the goods are sourced from, environmental sustainability factors, as well as your brand reputation, market focus and competition. These can all affect the price you put on your goods or services.
Invest in Your Talent
Multimillionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson nailed it when he said: “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” It’s a fair comment, even in Australia. According to consultancy firm The Retail Solution, staff turnover in the first 12 months of employment in Australia is costing $3.8 billion in lost productivity.
A good mantra is to ‘hire for attitude and train for skills’, rather than meet the challenge of an over-qualified person crammed into a low-paying role – which is likely to lead to discontent.
Secondly, it’s important to invest in your people because they are not only the cogs in the business machine, they’re also your organisation’s brand ambassadors. Their referrals and positive reflections about your business will permeate stronger than faceless marketing campaigns and their trust in your organisation and overall vision will resonate with your customers.
Use Cloud Accounting Software
Despite how good your business idea may seem, the time it takes you to complete administrative and accounting paperwork can really impact the quality of your contribution to your strategic business growth.
According to Inside Small Business, payment times, payroll tax and paperwork are some of the key issues slowing down Australian small business owners. That’s where cloud accounting software such as QuickBooks Online can help you save time and money – by letting you send invoices, input and retrieve data, prepare your tax returns and profit/loss statements, all within an accessible and secure framework.
Cloud accounting can also reduce your capital expenditure and improve your overall productivity since you can access your information on the go, which is essential if you’re keen to keep your business ahead of the rest.
Get Back to Basics
Quality customer service is now more important than ever. With the impact of digitalisation and a focus on efficiency, it’s easy for consumers to lose that human connection and sense of loyalty, which plays a big part in attracting repeat business.
According to a BSI report, eight out of 10 people surveyed said that customer service would influence their choice of brand. What’s more, four out of 10 surveyed said they would pay more for better service, and 86% of respondents would leave an organisation if it treated them poorly.
According to Service Excellence, many businesses fail to understand that bad service is actually costlier than great service. For example, needing to rework transactions that have been poorly executed, losing new customers due to dissatisfaction, and generally suffering a reputational loss effectively reduces revenue and drives up costs.
Here are some easy ways to reconnect with customers or to attract new ones:
- Provide personalised service and communications (for example, Dear John Smith, rather than Dear Sir/Madam)
- Provide a follow-up service after all sales queries
- Encourage feedback as well as complaints. Having a dedicated channel for dealing with compliments and complaints can potentially minimise the occurrence of generalised social media slander
- Use customer feedback productively, act on negative feedback and celebrate compliments within the organisation
- Recognise and reward employees who provide excellent customer service
- Define a policy within your organisation on what constitutes good customer service and get your staff on board.
Keeping ahead in business is about implementing strategies to anticipate and overcome challenges. With the right tools, your small business can have a large impact on the market. For more tips, visit our Small Business Centre today.