What Is Preventing Growth for Small Businesses?

As a small business owner or manager you will be faced with a great number of things to do to grow your business! It is likely that you will neglect some while focusing on others that perhaps you may be more comfortable with performing.

Did you know that more often it is the things that you may not be doing that will have a much greater impact on your business growth than those that you do? What are these? – read on!

  • Understanding your Customer Market
  • Adequate Planning
  • Managing Cash Flow
  • Operating a Marketing and Sales Development Process
  • Targeted Marketing Campaigns and Programs

Understanding your Customer Market

Every business must make a priority effort to truly understand their customers and what drives them to purchase your products or services. Without an ‘intimate’ understanding of your target customers you will be undermining ALL your efforts to grow your business.

Dispose of any shot-gun approaches you may have to marketing and advertising and use your smarts to achieve Better Marketing Results. Get started by developing your own ideal customer profile.

Make sure your ideal customer profile includes a description of the attributes of your target customers and the buying criteria that your ideal customer will use in selecting your product or service. This is a very crucial point, it is not your criteria that you consider important – it is what your potential customers considers important.

Find out what is involved in their buying cycle, what risks if any are perceived in their buying cycle and where your potential customers go to research and engage within their buying cycle.

Adequate Planning

“Businesses that fails to plan, plans to fail” It is a simple truth – you need to know where you are going to get there!

Marketing planning is crucial for small business owners and managers to maximise their company’s ability to succeed in the marketplace. The marketing plan does not have to be a large voluminous document that gathers dusk after it was developed. Be practical and prepare a condensed version of between two to three pages that you can frequently refer to in a highly visible location within your work area. This way your marketing document becomes a useful plan and guide to growing your business.

Marketing planning has several key benefits for your business:

  • Gives real focus that drives ownership and motivation to achieve success
  • It provides a firm foundation to evaluate priorities
  • It defines your market and matches the communications needed for your prospective customers
  • It is a definition of your business success

Managing Cash Flow

Many a small business owner will neglect this critical aspect of managing their cash flow. Small businesses that do not have positive cash flows will encounter significant challenges with insufficient funds to pay creditors severely limiting their business growth potential. Lack of cash flow management in small business is evident in “feast and famine” situations.

You must make cash flow planning a central element of your management priorities. As a business owner you must be able to identify your cash flow status on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis in order to make sound decisions for your business. Keeping your finances in order and your cash flow healthy is essential to growing your business.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Successful business owners always maintain a firm grasp on their cash flow and are able to describe and predict their cash flow situation for the week, month and year.

Operating a Marketing and Sales Development Process

Better marketing results are qualified potential customers or sales leads for your business. Sales development takes those qualified leads and works to convert them into paying customers.

Unfortunately, many small businesses do not have a structured process or procedure to manage these sales leads into customers. There is nothing more painful for an interested customer to be ignored because of a lack of prompt and professional follow through. All ‘hot’ prospects need your immediate attention before they grow ‘cold’ or purchase from your competitors. It is absolutely essential to formulate a process for follow-up and conversion of your sales leads into customers. For example, you could set-up a defined day of the week for all your sales development activities. For those prospects that are not yet ready to buy you must make them become part of your on-going nurturing engagement marketing until they are ready to buy.

Unlike traditional approaches to marketing where you specifically target prospects with direct response offers, engagement marketing allows your audience and potential customers to interact with you and shape how they would like to communicate with you.

Targeted Marketing Campaigns and Programs

In today’s business environment the customer will control when and how they would like to receive your marketing messages. Your marketing message must be highly relevant and compelling for your target audience. Your message must resonate with the ‘conversation’ that is happening in the minds of your potential customers.

Marketing is business development and must take place for your business to grow! Integrated marketing that makes use of the Internet with your web presence and social media is the approach that small business must implement for your marketing campaigns and programs.

Essentially, an integrated multimedia campaign allows a one to one personalised engagement with the recipient. It has the ability for the recipient to immediately accept the offer or secure additional information with readily available technology such as their mobile phone or access to the Internet.

If any of these issues are holding back on your business growth you must immediately take the appropriate action to remedy your situation. There are many sources of external expert assistance in the form of business consultancy firms like as PMZ Marketing that will be able to assist you overcome these issues.

Related Articles:

  • Conquer the Top 6 Small Business Marketing Challenges
  • What is the Profile of a Successful Small Business Owner?

Market Research – Benefits, Methods and Analysis

Market Research is an exhaustive organized process where informative and relevant data is collected for a market/ product or a service. This data is used to study and analyse current market scenario and build future projections which can be used for business planning and strategic moves.

Market Research: Benefits

– Assists in future planning of the business. E.g.

  • Should the company expand its product line
  • Will the product be profitable

– Makes Decision Process easier

– Gives factual information (thus breaking business myths/ and individual perceptions)

– Reduces risks

– Assists in identifying competitive edge

Small or big all enterprises can and should take strategic decisions after conducting a market research in the related field.

Market Research: Methods

There are broadly two types of research

1. Quantitative Research

In this process numerical data is generated which measures the market’s phenomena and demands. This is used for statistical analysis using various mathematical and computational techniques. It quantifies attitudes/opinions/behaviour on a sample and is then extrapolated for the full sample. This is usually conducted through surveys and questionnaire.

2. Qualitative Research

In this more insights and understanding is measured for the topic. It explores various options and gathers opinions. This kind of data is collected through interviews, group discussions etc. The insights are then used to explore various business decisions.

Market Research: Analysis

This is the trickiest part as data collected has to be strategically used in gaining intellectual analysis. Business experts and market research analysts are very well acquainted to do this work.

It is very exhaustive work and various techniques & tools are used to get useful conclusions. Interestingly the same data can be used to make different inferences depending on the research needs and goals. Some common data analysis types are briefed –

Data mining – this technique focuses on modeling and discovery of knowledge discovery for predictive purposes. This method is not useful for descriptive purposes.

Business Intelligence – this technique focuses on business related information covering data analysis that relies on data aggregation.

Statistical applications – it can be

  • Descriptive statistics
  • Exploratory data analysis also called EDA (discover new features)
  • Confirmatory data analysis also known as CDA (confirms the existing hypotheses about the data)
  • Predictive analytics focuses on application of statistical models for predictive forecasting or classification e.g. market growth in 2022- with data available for 2015
  • Text analytics uses statistical, linguistic, & other methods to pull out data and classify the information received from text sources.

This analysis is then constructively used in the business planning bringing a profitable inclination towards the decisions taken. Business planning plays a major role which reflects the survival of the business.

Steps to Starting a Small Business – Market Research

Getting enough information on your target market of potential customers is vital to starting a business that will produce income. Making guesses on what the customer really wants will not bring you very far, so it’s important to do some digging and get the answers directly from them through market research which is an important steps to starting a small business.

Some of the following questions to ask in order to device effective strategies:

  • Who is going to buy your product or service?
  • What kind of people are they? (buyer, influencer or end user)
  • How big is the market? (Competitor’s annual sales would give you an estimate)
  • How will market trends going to affect your business?
  • Does your business has any unique selling point?
  • Is the need for your product or service currently not being met?
  • Is the market already saturated?

Why do it?

You will not be able to sell something or services that has no demand. Knowing what the market is looking for and so that you can present it in a new twist, drives the need for a market research. The advantage of small businesses is that they are close to their customer and can easily get information on their purchasing habits.

How to do it?

Most of the big companies spend huge amounts of money on elaborate surveys from renowned researchers to determine if their products or services will appeal to customers at a price they are willing to pay. But for small business owners on a tight budget, there are other means to collect the key data needed without having to spend a fortune.

3 ways to collect information:

  • Get business school students to collect data at the mall.
  • Look for financial data and statistics in local library.
  • Join trade association not only to access market research they have conducted but do the networking there as well.

Do I need any ongoing market research while running the business?

Yes, this is how you gather information to evolve and adapt to the changes in market trends.

3 types of methods:

  • Keep a close watch on what your competitor is doing.
  • Install point-of-sales software to track sales or services trend.
  • Put up customer suggestion box where they can write suggestions.

Every business needs to conduct market research, it is a crucial steps to starting a small business, and tight budgets are no excuse for omitting a research plan. By starting out with some easily accessible resources, you can begin to develop better marketing strategies that can position you for market growth.