When you start a business, you have a great idea for a product or service. Then reality kicks in. Running a successful business takes more than the initial idea. Especially in the digital age, there are many new marketing areas to which you must pay attention. If your business is struggling, you need to look at every aspect of your organization with a critical eye. There are some common reasons that businesses fail in today’s market.
You Don’t Have a Business Website
No matter what the service or product, every business needs a website. This is the first place that most people go to find information about local businesses. While websites can be fancy, multi-media affairs, at the very least you need a site where a potential customer can find your hours of operation and basic contact information. Your website is also a reflection of who you are. You can talk about your services, share positive reviews, and link to other helpful sites. Some websites also include a blog that shares information about your types of products and services. Without an active website, even people in your local area may drift to your competitors. There are plenty of services available that make it easy to design and launch your own basic site. You can also invest in partnering with a web design firm for a more professional look.
You Didn’t Claim Your Online Business Listings
If your business’ information does not show up on common search engines, you may as well not exist. People coming to a business for the first time want to be armed with knowledge. 72 percent of consumers who search for local businesses visit stores within five miles. For most of those consumers, an online search is the first interaction they will have with you. You need to be certain that information about you online is accurate. The first step is for you to search for your business online. Whatever search engine you are using will give you the option to claim the business. Once you verify that you are the owner, you can keep the information current.
You’re Not on Social Media
Depending on your generation, you may have a love/hate relationship with social media. Social media sites can take up a great deal of time and effort. However, for business owners, social media is the next step in effective marketing. You can reach a great number of potential customers using social media sites. If a customer has a great interaction with your business and shares it with friends, you suddenly have a new group that may connect with your business. Your social media pages are great opportunities to share what is happening in your business as well as places to introduce new marketing campaigns. Trying to maintain a presence on several social media sites is a challenging task. As this aspect of your business grows, you may want to have an employee whose duties involve maintaining your social media presence.
You’re Not a Known Brand
Even for smaller businesses, branding is important. Branding is not so much about the product or service you offer, but it is about how consumers react or feel about your business. The basic customer experience is a part of your brand. If you sell bad products or offer poor customer service, it will reflect negatively on your reputation. Yet, branding is more than what happens in your store. You can improve your brand by involving your business in the local community. Sponsoring youth sports teams or local charities will reflect well on your brand. When customers trust your brand, it gives you more flexibility in your business. A trusted brand can go a long way in tempering the occasional negative review. If you are trying out a new product or service, people are more willing to try it if it comes from a brand that they believe in.
You’re Not Paying Attention to Reviews
The answers to your business struggles may be closer than you think. Online review sites make it easy for customers to share their experience with your business. You may think everything is working just fine, but a customer may perceive things differently. For example, you are used to your business space. If it is dim, you have adjusted to the lighting. If the shop looks run down, you have become blind to it over the years. The employee who is always deferential and polite to you may not be as kind to new customers. Your customers see your business with fresh eyes. The easiest ways to find reviews are by doing an online search or through social media. The advantage of social media is that you can respond to complaints. Be careful in engaging an unsatisfied customer. The best policy is to offer an apology and promise to strive to do better. You don’t want to end up in an online argument that reflects poorly on you.
You Don’t Know Your Market Space
Location matters. Many new business owners assume that their idea is so brilliant that people will flock to a location wherever it may be. That may be the case if you are a trusted brand, but if you are a new business, it is a different story. While the rent for your new restaurant may be cheaper in one part of town, you may come to realize that you do not have the population base you need for success. A restaurant near a residential area may struggle to find a breakfast or lunch crowd if most people are away at work during the day. Your new clothing store may fade into the background if you start in a location with multiple competitors nearby. You need to explore your local market to see if your business is sustainable at that location. It is better to do this work before you start your business. If not, you may find that you need to change locations or change strategies.
You Don’t Have a Clear Mission
For most new business owners, starting a new venture is about more than making money. Of course, they want the business to be financially successful, but they also want the business to be meaningful. Many businesses develop a mission statement to help them put things into perspective. A mission statement can help the business determine its best practices and long-term goals. Without a sense of mission, the business can become aimless, just going through the motions to stay open. There are going to be times when things are challenging, and you have to make difficult decisions that affect the lives of your employees. A clear purpose can help you through those times, giving a reason for the choices you make.
When your business is struggling, it can be a very stressful time. Your employees will be concerned about the future, whether or not they will receive another paycheck. You will be worried about losing your dream and the results of your hard effort. During these difficult times, the best thing to do is to take a close look at your business. With a few adjustments, especially adapting to the digital age, you may be able to turn things around.