Nothing has quite highlighted the necessity of local business like the COVID-19 pandemic. In a time where most of us had limited access to the outside world, we depended on local businesses for the bare minimum and patronized them frequently for food, groceries, household essentials, and supplies.
But how do local businesses continue to own their success? The answer might seem complex; however, it boils down to best management practices, engaging with the community, and creating a sustainable business model. We've assembled a list of best practices for locally owned businesses that might be asking themselves simple questions like "how do you attract customers?" and "what makes for a good business model?"
First and foremost, small businesses should ensure that their employees feel engaged and essential in their day-to-day jobs. Alienated workers do not care about performing their jobs, so it's necessary to have a united goal that employees are working towards. Engaged workers are enthusiastic and productive and will take responsibility for their performance.
Identify your staff's skillsets and invest in them. When you set clear goals and responsibilities based on everyone's specialized skills, you get more engaging work out of your team and prevent people from getting bored.
No one likes their work to go unrecognized. Make sure that you recognize your staff's achievements either through verbal appreciation or a written thanks. When people are appreciated, they are more likely to be motivated to do more and have a stronger sense of loyalty to the company. This also includes giving team feedback and constructive criticism to encourage growth.
Be sure you appreciate your customers as well. Maybe this looks like initiating a reward program for returning customers or a referral program that gives them credit when referring someone to your business. Loyalty programs truly work as consumers feel recognized and appreciate special inside offers, leading to retention and more profits.
Staying committed and involved in your community can take shape in many different forms. Maybe this looks like hosting a fundraiser for your local food bank or instating "Giving Tuesday," where you donate a percent of your proceeds to a local nonprofit organization. Create a positive atmosphere in your workplace where consumers and employees from all backgrounds can unite to focus on a common goal.
The code to any successful business is building good relationships among customers, employees, and business associates. To do this, you need to find the right balance between trust and vulnerability in your partnerships. Establishing a solid employee-management foundation is vital so that employees feel like their thoughts and criticism are welcome in the workplace. This allows for a better flow of ideas at the table.
Be sure that you are engaging with other businesses in your community. Form partnership through business neighbors, collaborate with a local artist or join forces with the business council to make a more significant impact on your community.
Lack of alignment in mission statements can often lead to the downfall of local businesses. It's always best to establish your company's vision and make it known to the general public. This is best done by gathering your core principles centered around: why your business exists, what you do, how you will succeed, and what is most important.
Values, strategic goals, and delegation of responsibility are all important when seeking clarity for your business. Business leaders should take the time to figure these things so that their business doesn't lack purpose or direction.
Create cultural cohesiveness and build good relationships among your staff and customers. This is best done through shared values. Workers with shared values can be good team members as they engage with one another and work to produce efficient outcomes. Consistently reassess and realign team goals so that your staff members are on the same page as your general business plan.
Making sure that your employees know one another and have the opportunity to give feedback is crucial. In a world where more and more jobs are switching to remote, engaging your staff is more critical than ever to create a cohesive team environment. Hold regular meetings to keep your employees up to date on internal information, new initiatives, and the overall progress of the business while also allowing everyone to see one another. If these can't be done in person, hold weekly Zoom meetings or regular conference calls.
Often, small businesses can fall behind because they don't know how to use technology to their advantage. Technology not only helps better utilize your data and streamline communications, but it also helps to prepare your business for e-commerce. Online shopping has risen significantly during the pandemic, and many locally owned businesses struggled to transition their business model to an internet experience. More and more data shows that mobile audiences are the future of the business, so the quicker that companies adapt to this and build a user-friendly website, the more likely they are to be successful.
Plus, using technology can give you remote access to your work. With improved communication software, high-speed internet access, and conference call technologies, employees can efficiently work remotely, which is helpful with new social distancing measures. This can also lead to remote jobs, which cuts down office space and increases the overall bottom line for your business.
Make sure that your branding and marketing efforts are consistent across all channels. Technology comes into play here as digital management allows for online marketing efforts through larger platforms like social media and streaming services. With this increase in visibility, ensuring cohesive branding is key to creating a successful consumer journey.
Your social media strategy should lead customers back to your website. Your advertising should align with your content marketing strategy to affirm your mission statement and align your goals across all platforms.