Business success is a tricky thing, with a lot of
influential factors involved. In a “normal” year, small business success can be
threatened by a wide spectrum of obstacles. But, the combination of a global
pandemic with an election year turned 2020 into the American Ninja Warrior of
Still, there are reasons to look out for a brighter future.
According to Business Insider, the US economy will grow 3.5% in the first
quarter of 2021 and may even return to pre-pandemic level of output in the
second quarter of next year.
As we look collectively towards the new year, we’ve gathered
12 tips to help your business thrive in 2021.
#1: Rank customers on key attributes
You may know your best customers by name, especially if you
are a small business with few customers or sell mainly to businesses rather
than the general public. If you can, rank these customers on one attribute
(let’s say “spend the most”), then generate a list so you can contact them for
Another way to maximize past customers is to find out if
there are specific products that they tend to buy more, then build products
related to those that your customer may find interested in. If you use
accounting software, then it’s easy to sort all your customers and their
#2: Nurture your brand advocates
Happy, loyal customers will spread the news to their
friends. They will post about you on social media, which is free advertising.
People trust their friends’ opinions over a company’s marketing efforts.
If you have customers like these, make sure you comment on
the reviews and raves they leave for you on Google, Yelp, or other social
channels. This is a small gesture that will show them how much their business
means to you.
Another way to show appreciation to your loyal customers is
to offer them a referral incentive. For example, if they refer a friend to your
business, you can offer them both a referral discount on their next purchase.
#3: Adopt agility as part of your small business culture
If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s to prepare for
anything. For small business owners, this means having to roll with the
punches. While many larger organizations adopted a work from home standard,
some businesses require physical labor or on-site staff. These businesses
should communicate their plans to open safely with their staff, perhaps how
they will reopen in waves, or with physical changes to work stations. Prepare
for worst-case scenarios, revisit your business plan, and have a “what if”
forecast, where all scenarios are accounted for in your cash flow.
Agility also means adopting practices that make your
business more efficient. Tools like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can free
up management from routine, time-consuming tasks. Evaluate processes where
automation can save you time, invest in these as they will continue to serve
you long after the pandemic ends.
#4: Use targeted social media advertising
Facebook advertising offers look-alike audience targeting.
Using your existing customer database, Facebook looks through its database and
finds people who match the profile of your existing customers. You can then
create ads that are targeted at this look-alike audience.
As another plus, Facebook ads are seamlessly converted to
Instagram ads within the Facebook Ads Manager. When done right, Instagram can
be a huge platform to grow and sell.
Targeting is the number-one benefit of using social media,
because when you are setting up your ads, you can request criteria such as
education, financial status, ethnic affinity, location, and life events.
You may get fewer people seeing your ad when you narrow your
criteria, but lower numbers are outweighed by the benefits of reaching more of
the people you most want to learn about your business.
Make sure you set up tracking pixels for retargeting ads.
These ads will show your products to those who have already visited your
website, making it a seamless way to remarket your business to your audience.
Don’t have the funds to advertise on social? Running a
giveaway contest is an easy way to increase your engagement and followers for a
relatively low cost.
#5: Diversify the markets you serve
If your traditional market is struggling, can you try other
markets? For example, you might find success in the next town or by changing
your marketing focus. If your market is too broad (for example, people living
within a one-hour drive), it may be better to narrow it to “female accountants
who own condos in the downtown core.” You may discover a new market.