Successful small businesses are often considered resilient and innovative. A recent article on Entrepreneur cited the failure rate of small businesses as decreasing more than 25% since 1977.
Many creatives are utilizing online platforms like Etsy and Shopify to grow their small businesses. Therefore, it’s important they use the entire digital landscape to their advantage. Below are three ways small business owners can improve their online operation.
Establish an online brand. All businesses need cohesive branding to succeed. A brand creates a personality for the company that consumers can relate to. It can also establish an advantage for small businesses in a competitive market.
One of the first steps of creating an online brand presence is establishing a voice for the company that connects with the target audience. It should be utilized in everything published — from a Facebook post to a blog post. The voice can be in a variety of tones — serious, comedic, calm, scientific, vibrant and so on.
Next, create a brand guideline. This includes the logo, color scheme and any other visual elements of the brand. Research color theory and pallets to come up with a visual story for the brand, based on the product.
Once the voice and guidelines are set, apply them all to the appropriate online platforms. All companies should have a website, Facebook and Instagram page, and some, based on the target audience, should be on other social platforms like TikTok and Twitter.
Overall, customers should be able to easily access the company online and see what it is all about.
Create an efficient and effective way of shipping and returning products. Following the pandemic, people around the world became accustomed to ordering products online for convenience. Shipping companies and online sales have increased drastically, and this is expected to continue.
Unfortunately, many small businesses’ websites lack effective shipping practices, which leaves people wondering if the sites they are ordering from are reliable and if they will receive what they ordered in a timely manner. Small business owners have an opportunity to impress those purchasing their products or services with quality shipping guidelines, easily found and relayed on the website.
Shipping could be done through a typical online storefront or a shipping partner. Research the cost of shipping at both UPS and post office. A lower shipping price might entice buyers to purchase a product — especially over a competitor with higher shipping costs.
Build a network of other small business owners to collaborate with and get advice from. Networking with other small businesses creates opportunities to improve knowledge, increase connections and exposure to potential clients, and brainstorm ideas on how to grow a business. Owners should research other small business owners who have done well in their industry and invite them to connect virtually or in-person (if possible) to get advice.
Small business owners can also network by becoming part of a national association. For example, the Association for Entrepreneurship USA is a large network of gig workers and entrepreneurs. It provides them with educational resources as well as health and retirement benefits to help entrepreneurs grow and thrive.
The future looks bright for small businesses and now is the time for entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.
Jack Diehl, president of the Association for Entrepreneurship USA, graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering. His initial 10-year career included new factory set-up of Maverick missile seeker head assemblies and project engineering and procurement for Hughes Aircraft Missile Systems Group. After leaving Hughes, Diehl developed an auto repair operation of nine different auto repair centers. For more than 20 years, he was responsible for initial site selections, property development, business financing, staffing, quality control and other necessary aspects of owning and operating a successful small business. Originally from a rural farming community in upstate New York, Diehl now lives in Tucson, Ariz.
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