If you own a small company, you have several advantages over your larger counterparts: You are agile and ready to adapt at a moment’s notice, and you are not shackled by the whims of a big corporation or chain. Even so, customer perception can make or break you, and sometimes you just want to appear larger than you are.
Launch or Upgrade Your Website
These days, having an online presence is not a luxury. If you don’t have a website that is regularly updated, easy to navigate and packed with the information that customers want, they will simply move on to a business that does.
By 2018, an estimated 86 percent of mobile phone users will go online via their smartphones. What’s more, Google looks kindly on websites that have been made mobile-friendly. And don’t forget that increasingly, customers also want to shop for products online. You can start small, but be sure to build a website with intuitive links to your products, and enable shoppers to pay online through a shopping cart or payment page with secure website credit card processing from a trusted provider.
Market Your Business
If you want to look bigger, you need to market bigger. That means that you may need to spend more to let the world know all about who you are. If you’re uncertain of just how much you need to shell out, keep in mind that large corporations spend an average of 11% of their total budgets on marketing and advertising. If you usually sell your products to other businesses, you will probably not need to spend quite as much.
If you have a particular sales goal to meet or need to launch a new product, you might want to consider paying a reputable consultant to help you with your campaign. Before you do, be sure that there will be customer demand for your product and that you can still reasonably expect to make a profit after paying for advertising and consultant fees.
Harness the Power of Social Media
Social media contains much more than endless tweets and posts about how bored people are or stories of their pets’ latest antics. You should use social media sites that are relevant to your particular business to attract customers and create buzz about what you’re doing.
If you own a small restaurant that you would like to grow, give your customers incentives to snap photos of your food and post them to sites such as Instagram along with positive reviews. If you are a musician or an artist, put samples of your work online on your favorite social media site and encourage everyone you know to like and talk about your work. Once you have done this, use a social media tracking tool to monitor your activity and what people are saying about you as well as your competition.
If you do everything you can to keep your name out there, you might be one of the lucky business owners whose posts go viral. In these rare but exciting cases, businesses can go from almost total obscurity to national exposure in a matter of days or even hours.
Streamline Your Project Management
If your business is small, you and your staff might be so busy putting out fires and serving customers that you lose sight of your larger goals and projects. That’s where management software can step in. With management platforms you can collaborate online without needing to be in the same room at the same time. Your teams can work together, assign tasks and deadlines and track results in real time with ease and simplicity. When you get more done, you look bigger.
Use Your Point-of-Sale System to Its Fullest Extent
If you think you need a large staff of human relations, public relations and accounting workers to look larger, you’re wrong. Believe it or not, you may already have an amazing solution in your very own office. Your point-of-sale (POS) system can do the work of several competent staff members by assisting you with inventory management, accounting, staff time tracking, and even customer contact and loyalty programs. With those tasks made easier, you and your staff can spend more time doing what you do best: growing your business and serving your customers.
Get Your Name Out There
As a small business, you may not be a household name among members of your community – at least not yet. Fortunately, you no longer have to rely only on expensive print or electronic media advertising to let prospective customers know who you are. In addition to the advantages of social media, you can use local online business pages to inform people about your business.
Furthermore, well-known sites such as Yelp can provide positive exposure, but you shouldn’t simply wait for good reviews to come to you. When customers express praise for what you do or sell, give them incentives to write honest, clear reviews to go on Yelp and similar sites. Once you create a buzz about your business, an amazing phenomenon will occur: It will begin to appear much larger and more widely recognized than ever before.
In today’s dog-eat-dog business environment, you simply cannot afford to be passive. By putting in the work to make your small company look bigger, you can actually become bigger.