It’s almost that time-in a little more than 3 weeks it will be a new quarter, a new year and time for new business goals. With 2018 right around the corner, a new year of opportunity is on the line for small business owners everywhere. Planning for success in the New Year means setting goals and knowing what to avoid in 2018.
To begin, small business owners should take an honest look about what has worked in the past. What worked well for your business in 2017? What didn’t? Determine how you can continue to do the things that worked well while tweaking what didn’t work to create success in the future.
Of course it is imperative to remember your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Consider what lessons you can learn from your customers. Have they given you any feedback over the last year? Did your customers respond well to new promotions or campaigns you ran? Try to anticipate what your customers will demand from you and your business as well as your competitors in 2018.
Consider making a 2018 business resolution. Maybe there’s a new marketing plan you’d like to explore, or a new service you’re eager to offer in the New Year. You probably have an endless “to-do” list for your business this time of the year, but these next 3 things are “to-don’ts” you can cut from your list.
DON’T: Cut Prices
Lowering prices seems like a sure fire way to lure customers into your business, and in the small business community there is a constant pressure to match or beat the prices of the big box stores and online competitors. While low prices will likely attract customers in 2018, striving to be the bottom dollar might be counter productive.
Price will always be important to your customers, but data increasingly shows that consumers are willing to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to shopping small. According to a recent AT&T survey, approximately half of millennials are willing to pay more at a small business. Ad the largest generation in the nation, millennials will continue to have a significant amount of purchasing power in the New Year and beyond. Millennials have a desire to support small business, and factor more than price into buying consideration. Don’t sacrifice your business’ strengths for a lower price point.
DON’T: Try to Control the Message
As social media and interactive marketing become universal, controlling the message about your business gets more difficult and really it’s less necessary. Your business should employ a public relations and marketing strategy including reputation management to protect your business’s message. However, instead of trying to control the message, embrace two-way messaging.
A recent survey by BrightLocal found that a staggering 97 percent of customers read online reviews. Customers can leave reviews about your business on several sites, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor and similar sites. As a business owner, it’s important to keep up with what customers are saying about your business on these sites. You’ll learn where you can improve and where you succeed as well as how to communicate with your customers. If there is an opportunity to respond to the reviews customer’s leave, take advantage of it and create a two-way conversation to foster customer relations.
DON’T: Be the Big Box Store
In the endless battle to compete with the big box stores, small business are losing their edge. In an increasingly systematic marketplace, where so many stores are the same, there’s value in being unique. In the New Year, small businesses nationwide should strive not to take on their big box counterparts head on, but rather, change the game. Make your business different by telling it’s story and prioritizing customer service. Bottom line is don’t be the big box, be better than the big box. Take an active role in your community, and work with other small businesses. The competition from the big box stores won’t disappear in 2018, but you can confront it differently with some creative thinking about the value your business adds to the community.
Celebrate the New Year and your locally owned status. Help your customers understand the importance of supporting you.