The Covid-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for small businesses across the United States. While some sectors are thriving, many small businesses remain closed or are struggling to survive. In April, 34% of U.S. small businesses were still closed due to the pandemic, according to data from the World Economic Forum. While the pandemic had an outsized effect on small businesses, local business owners continually face new and ongoing challenges. Fortunately, there are business strategies you can leverage to help set your local business up for success and overcome future obstacles.
If you’re a local business owner, consider these five business strategies:
Strategy #1: Choose a Business-Friendly Environment
Small businesses are often defined by geography and industry. In other words, the location you choose can have a major impact on your business’s success. If you have the flexibility to name your location, be sure to consider the following factors:
- Local regulations and tax laws. What are the local regulations and tax laws? Do they incentivize or preclude small business growth?
- Small business resources. What programs does the local government have in place to support small businesses both in good times and bad?
- Local economy. How strong is the local economy, and what is its projected growth rate? What is the unemployment rate, and how might this affect local spending?
- Demographics. According to a recent Mint.com survey, 57% of Americans say their main reason for shopping small is to keep money local. However, older consumers are more likely to shop locally than younger consumers, who prefer to shop online. Do residents in your area have discretionary income, and are they willing to spend locally?
- Competition. How many other businesses in the area offer the same products or services as your business?
Just as location impacts property values, choosing the right location for your local business can be one of the most important business strategies you implement. Nevertheless, businesses with less geographic flexibility have many other success strategies at their disposal.
Strategy #2: Develop Strong Relationships with Local Officials
Small businesses have a direct impact on the health of a local economy. Therefore, developing strong relationships with local officials is often mutually beneficial. Furthermore, fostering these relationships during good times can help small businesses thrive in times of crisis.
The first thing you can do is get more involved with your local community and government. For example, attend monthly city council meetings in person or virtually. This not only gives you a front-row seat to the decision-making process, but it also helps local officials get to know you and your business better. In addition, consider volunteering for local boards, committees, and community organizations.
When it comes to small business strategies, investing in relationships can have an exponential impact on the success of your local business. The more local officials and community leaders know about you and your business, the better equipped they’ll be to help you achieve your goals.
Many business owners cringe at the idea of networking. However, the more people you meet, the more people who are aware of your business. Plus, befriending other local business owners has a host of other benefits for you and your business.
For example, networking with other business owners can result in new leads or strategic partnerships. In addition, you can share business strategies and best practices. This can be especially helpful if you’re a sole proprietor and don’t have partners to vet your ideas. Lastly, it can help you learn more about the local market, so you can identify areas of opportunity to help your business succeed.
Strategy #4: Market Your Local Business Strategically
Many local business owners operate on a limited budget, possibly even more so now. The good news is the internet has made it possible to successfully market your business—even if your marketing budget is nonexistent.
First, it’s important to have a strong internet presence. A recent survey found that 60% of consumers begin their product research with a search engine before heading to a particular website.
If you don’t have a website or haven’t updated yours in a while, consider creating one or giving your old one a refresh. There are a variety of platforms available that allow you to develop and maintain a website at a low cost. Better yet, you can be a complete novice and still create a modern, effective website for your business.
Social media is another way to build brand awareness and connect with potential customers in your area. In addition, you can leverage resources like Google and Yelp to generate local interest. You can also ask your loyal customers to leave positive reviews in support of your business.
There are many ways to market your business, and no one strategy is a silver bullet. Nevertheless, marketing is one of the most important business strategies you can leverage if you want your local business to succeed. Getting this part right can help alleviate many challenges down the road.
Strategy #5: Build Resilience into Your Business Model
Finally, the pandemic has taught us that local businesses must be resilient to unexpected setbacks. In other words, small businesses must have the capacity to handle, absorb, resist, or recover from adverse events in a flexible manner. Moreover, businesses must be able to preserve or regain functionality after a disruptive event.
For local businesses, this may involve adding a digital component to an otherwise brick-and-mortar business. Alternatively, your business may benefit from diversifying your product line or having multiple revenue streams. At the end of the day, your business must be able to adapt or pivot as the world changes if you want to succeed long-term.
Remember: Effective Business Strategies Require Proper Planning
These are just a few examples of business strategies you can implement to set your local business up for long-term success. However, strategic business planning can open up a wealth of additional opportunities to help your business thrive.
As a small business owner, maximizing the value of your business can help ensure you enjoy a comfortable retirement. If you’re ready to take the first step towards securing your family’s financial future, we invite you to request a complimentary retirement readiness assessment. We look forward to hearing from you.