What could your Small Business achieve in 2015?

Continuing the theme of “New Year, New You” we have come up with a couple of new things you could try for your small business this year if you aren’t already doing them. The best part about it is that they won’t use up too much of your time or money so you can’t really lose out!

Social Media

We now expect all businesses to be on social media in one form or another. And what better way to communicate with customers than on the ever growing, never stopping platform of social media.

Although this can be free, this may prove the most time consuming New Year resolution for your small business as it never shuts off. However, there are tools you can use to help manage your posting schedule i.e. Buffer. 

Here is some basic advice to help you harness the power of social media:

  1. Social is not a hard sell – do not constantly push your products/services
  2. Be useful – give something back to your followers, offer them blogs and tips
  3. Giveaways is one of the easiest ways to attract attention to your page
  4. Remember you don’t need to be on every social platform – only the ones that work for you
  5. Be real - social is informal and allows you to be genuine with customers

Email Marketing

What better way to tell your contacts and customers about a new product, service, offer or event than through an email? Even better is that small business can benefit from this for absolutely no cost.

For small-scale campaigns, Mail Chimp could be the answer. If you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free. This should be more than enough to get you off the ground this year!

To get you started here are a few basic tips:

  1. Make it easy to register – a name and email address is enough
  2. Create a subscriber option on your website
  3. Offer an incentive to encourage customers to register
  4. Don’t overdo it – one email a week is more than enough
  5. Include your social media profiles in every email
  6. Keep an eye on what your competitors are up to – register with them

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Now that you have an online presence you will want to track its success and be able to highlight your most profitable products and customers. A CRM solution may prove invaluable to your small business as it can help find, manage and keep customers. 

This tactic can give you a birds-eye view of your small business, allowing you to streamline processes, deliver fantastic customer service and increase sales and turnover. CRM platforms are usually built for large businesses and are often extremely complex. However, there are a few systems designed to fulfil small business needs that are either free or affordable.

These include:

  1. Punchh – combines mobile app and CRM technology
  2. Yesware – tracks and analyses emails
  3. Insightly – everything a small business needs to keep an eye on customers and the business
  4. Batchbook – a simple CRM system with the necessary features plus some additional benefits

eCommerce

eBay or Etsy are well established online marketplaces and can offer you all you need to get going. There are many businesses out there that operate exclusively on these platforms and have seen continued growth. Of course, there is the cost implication of paying the provider a percentage of your sale. 

Etsy costs around $0.20 to list an item for 4 months, which you only pay if you sell the item. So nothing upfront and pay on success. Win win!

Here are a few tips if you are going to try Etsy for the first time this year:

  1. High quality photography really does make all the difference
  2. Don’t undercharge for items – calculate your costs accurately and include your time
  3. Customer service should remain high priority – respond quickly and be transparent
  4. Network – comment on blog posts, follow other members and keep up to date with your feed
  5. Take advantage of the free resources Etsy provides!

Of course, there are hundreds of new things you could do this year for your small business and this is by no means an exhaustive list. Why not give these a try; after all you’ve got nothing to lose! Just do your research and don’t spend too much time or money on resolutions until you know they will pay off. Join in the conversation; what new things are you taking on in 2015 for your small business? 

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