Stay ahead of the game this spring
Concluding his checklist of spring tasks for the entrepreneur, John Coldicutt turns his attention to continuing competitiveness.
When talking to most business owners many will tell you they want to stay ahead of the curve. However, in a business world where continuous change is the norm, how is this possible? What are the things that business owners should be thinking about and how can you ensure you are thriving in a challenging business environment?
In today’s disruptive world, innovation can certainly help. This is what successful business owners do well – they adapt to new problems by taking time to understand them, brainstorming solutions and then continually trying, testing and improving as they go. Apple and Google are great examples of organisations that create competitive advantage by consistently testing out and learning from new ideas. Business owners need to take a similar approach and be able to have the agility to change with the times and be responsive to market changes.
So, what sort of things do small businesses need to consider implementing in their businesses to stay competitive? Here are our five top tips:
1. Make analytics work for you – Make sure you harness and turn your online data into useful insights to ensure you are making the most of your business. Google Analytics is free and will give you a fair amount of detail on what is working and what isn't. There are similar applications such as Geckoboard, which allows you to compare web traffic and sales figures, and Crazy Egg, which displays a heat map so you can see where your users are clicking on your site. It’s also vital to analyse the success of social media platforms using similar tools, as this enables you to continue effective campaigns and amend those which are falling on deaf ears. Knowledge really is power!
2. Customer Surveys – Ask your regular customers and clients to complete anonymous customer satisfaction surveys to help point you in the direction of what they really need from you to be happy. This will help inform any decisions you make on what direction your organisation should take and help you understand your customers’ needs.
3. Competitors – Keep one eye on your competitors. Understanding the evolution of your competitors will help you gauge what is working in your market and how you can utilise any further opportunities. This can also help you generate additional ideas for your business and offer better services than your competitors.
4. Data is king – He who has data is king. In this digital age, each device, product or service collecting data provides a unique opportunity. If businesses are able to effectively use all the data they collect, from web analytics to customer insight, they will be better prepared to turn sales opportunities into success. Review the data you currently have to identify trends in the market and possible revenue opportunities. This will help you craft the data you gather into real insight, which will reduce your risks in the long term.
5. Know your figures – Most businesses fall behind because they don’t monitor the finances closely enough. Make sure you keep on top of your figures and know how much money is going through your business. You not only need to focus on what’s coming in and out, but also upcoming legislation that your business must comply with. When the time comes and you need the figures, keeping on top of your finances will pay off so ensuring software is in place to simplify this process is key.
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