Running a small business is a challenging undertaking, and getting your company off the ground is the hardest part. This is true regardless of whether you operate your company from home, like 50% of small business owners, if you employ others or are a sole proprietor, or any other variables you apply. And, no matter how optimistic you are about your business, the challenges running a company present have real financial consequences – only 40% of small businesses are profitable, and 20% fail within the first year. In other words, if you want to survive, you’ re going to need to be strategic, but what should you do differently?
If you want to get your business through those first few years and beat the inevitable profit plateaus, the best thing you can do is ensure that you’re using all of the resources at your disposal. Many small businesses underutilize these three valuable services and practices, but don’t let your competitors’ failure to get on board dissuade you from adopting them.
SEO optimization has been a central element of business strategy for years now, so it might be surprising that many small businesses aren’t using this tool to its fullest potential. In reality, though, many never have a chance because 36% of small businesses don’t have their own website. Instead, they rely exclusively on social media channels or listing on other local sites.
Given these statistics, your small business may not need to rely on an exhaustive list of SEO practices in order to be competitive. Having a website and ensuring you’ve covered standard SEO practices – things like updating your Google My Business listing and submitting a sitemap to Google – can go a long way, so you can upgrade your presence, even if you’re on a budget.
Sure, your business has invested in accounting software and other basic programs that allow you to keep the office up and running, but have you ever considered what custom applications and software solutions could do for your company? Particularly for niche operations that may have a hard time finding off the shelf solutions for their business management needs, having a custom product built can make things run more smoothly, for you and your customers.
The main reason that more small businesses don’t make use of custom software solutions is simple: they assume they’re too expensive, without doing their research. In reality, though, if you find the right developer to partner with – particularly one that has built its business on working with other small operations – you can readily find collaborators who will help you reach your goals.
Many businesses open without any real financial support, either because they don’t qualify for it or because they don’t know how to access funding. However, many of these businesses overlook valuable funding and contract opportunities available through the Small Business Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Though there aren’t strict rules, the federal government aims to award at least 5% of contract dollars annually to small disadvantaged businesses. A small disadvantaged business is defined as one that is at least 51% controlled by US citizens who are economically or socially disadvantaged. There are also programs for women-owned businesses, those owned by disabled veterans, and those in underutilized urban and rural communities. For small business owners, participating in one of these programs can open doors to valuable, long-term contracts and connections.
There are countless ways that small businesses can put themselves in a stronger strategic position, but some are easier to accomplish and more likely to succeed than others. Ultimately, however, your business needs to evaluate its current status and resources and determine what steps will help you most, driving profits and stimulating growth in ways that will take your company to the next level.