In the new year, resolve to take your small business in new directions. By 2020, intense competition from big boxes, national chains and online retailers will be old news, but your strategy for success can enter a new phase. With these New Year’s resolutions, your business can refine the way it stands up to and stands out from the competition.
1. Reflect on Past Performance
Before you change things up, it makes sense to reflect on what you’ve already done. What worked well for your business in 2019? What didn’t work so well? Think about the successes and shortcomings of your business in terms of customer experience, employee relations, vendor management and marketing. Identify at least one strength and one weakness in each category. Then, decide how to capitalize on those strengths and tackle those weaknesses. With this approach, you can plan with purpose.
2. Find New Partners
If you haven’t joined a Main Street organization in your community yet, you’re missing out on a valuable networking opportunity. These groups unite small businesses in the community under a local, identifiable brand. Together, Main Street group members plan seasonal campaigns, revitalize downtown buildings and advocate for small businesses in and around the local area. This work helps to raise awareness for the local retailers, restaurants and service providers that keep the local economy strong and the local culture vibrant. By expanding your network in this way, you can take on 2020 with new, local partners by your side.
3. Leverage Local Investment
As you look for new growth opportunities in 2020, focus on your relationships with local lenders. Community banks and credit unions are a natural fit for small businesses looking for financial support. Like your small business, these financial institutions work to keep money in the local economy. Also like your small business, they rely on investment and support from locals to make the community more prosperous. Perhaps most importantly, these banks aren’t tied to national standards imposed by a distant headquarters. Rather, they can adapt to the needs of the community and rely on their familiarity with your business. By building a relationship with local lenders, your business can secure financing that is flexible and suited to your specific needs.
4. Keep up with Social Media
Expect social media to continue growing in 2020. Focus your attention on Instagram, which recently launched a new Shopping feature for brands and business. This new Instagram feature allows businesses to link their online inventories to each post on the platform. Customers can tap on each post to see what products are featured and how much they cost. With just a few more clicks, users can purchase the products directly on Instagram. If your business uses e-commerce, then set up your Instagram Shopping account with this step-by-step guide to make the most of social media in the new year.
5. Stay True to Your Business
Finally, keep it local. Competition from big boxes, national chains and online retailers will continue to challenge small businesses in 2020, but locals and independents can stand out from the crowd by staying true to their strengths. While big businesses make the customer experience increasingly impersonal, small businesses can focus on customer service and expert advice. More than sellers, they can become advisors for their customers. Similarly, big businesses will compete to offer rock-bottom prices, but locals and independents can work together to curate unique experiences and limited-time collections that bring more value to their customers. In the new year, beat the big businesses simply by staying small.
Bill Brunelle is co-founder of Independent We Stand, a cause-marketing campaign sponsored by STIHL, Do it Best Corp., PPG Paints and Nationwide Marketing Group, which is dedicated to educating communities about the importance and strong economic benefits of supporting locally owned businesses. Independent We Stand inspires small business owners across the country to celebrate their locally owned status and help consumers understand the importance of supporting them. For more information, visit www.independentwestand.org. @IndWeStand