Everyone loves a good story about entrepreneurial success. And there are stories aplenty in the SMB segment, which contributes more than half of the GDP in developed economies and over 40% in developing economies.
If there’s one mantra that successful businesses, big or small, invariably abide by, it is this: a balanced scorecard for the trifecta of key stakeholders — customers, investors, and employees.
In a world of rapid change accelerated by tech adoption at scale during the pandemic, companies cannot rely on traditional methods of doing business. Leading businesses reimagine customer engagement and convenience during times of change.
Here are three components of customer strategy growing businesses must not overlook:
Today, the world shops digitally. And business customers expect consumer-like experiences. Disruptions caused by the pandemic have further pushed businesses away from traditional payment methods and there’s little doubt that the trend will become the norm in the post-pandemic future.
Integrating digital payments then will not only be an essential determinant of customer experience success but will be critical for business success. And of course, it’s hard to miss the cost and efficiency gains of digital business payments.
The modern attention economy demands marketing strategies that don’t just make a business known but truly resonate with the target customers and prospects. Successful businesses codify their purpose in their DNA, obsess over understanding their customers, and meet the customers where they are. Literally and figuratively.
They align every piece of the marketing puzzle to the business strategy, and don’t just think like their customers but think for their customers to provide suitable recommendations and next-best steps, like true partners. Intentional marketing is all about building trust and championing customer interest, and the best businesses, big or small, continually measure their performance on customer-centric metrics.
Intentional marketing is not enough. The promise has to translate into experience, which requires pre-empting the customer’s need, and creating customer journeys that result in intuitive and value-enhancing experiences.
For instance, using digital marketing a local real estate dealer can make a relevant ad appear on a site that a prospect frequents. But does the dealer go the extra mile and bundle convenience services such as availability of a creche for working parents, discounts and quick service assurance from nearby grocery retailers, or convenient utility bill payments, and actually deliver on the promise once the prospect becomes a customer?
Modern customers are spoilt for choice in nearly every industry, and customer experience can indeed make or break a business.
While selling to customers, businesses need to make customers believe in their promise, introduce them to possibilities, and follow through with seamless delivery. But selling to investors is a different ball game. Investors know what they want to multiply their money. And successful entrepreneurs truly want their business to do that for their investors.
Many businesses that didn’t start with deep pockets are remarkably well-funded today. The secret? When it comes to convincing investors why they deserve every penny of investors’ dollars, successful businesses don’t leave anything to chance. They get their ducks in a row way before it’s showtime.
From financial figures to teams to customer reviews to growth and even exit strategies, assessing and anticipating questions across areas and departments is key. They scout the right potential investors and research them thoroughly.
There’s a simple thumb rule for being cash flow positive: space out your payments, convert sales into cash quickly and evade unnecessary expenditure. An efficient back office with streamlined AR and AP processes helps circumvent many inefficiencies small businesses struggle with.
Modern technologies such as automation and cloud are the answer to the challenge of ‘inefficiencies in the back office’. Nearly all successful small and mid-size businesses invest in these tech-led solutions to get paid faster.
An SMB growth story can make its way into local newspapers but it is profitable growth that makes investors happy. Businesses need to tread the tightrope between expanding their business and keeping expenses in check for a healthy EBITDA. The trick is to embrace extensive automation across business areas for non-linear growth.
Successful small and medium businesses adopt SaaS and cloud for benefits of flexibility and elasticity. For top-line growth, successful SMBs continually look to expand their reach and make the most of e-commerce channels ensuring they are where their customers are.
The most successful businesses recognize that it’s their people who deliver the experiences and outcomes that their business wants to be known for. Apart from ensuring their employees understand business goals and values, successful businesses invest in their talent to keep pace with the latest market trends and allow a certain degree of flexibility so employees can bring in innovative thinking as they apply their knowledge and skills.
Businesses are dealing with a multi-generational workforce comprising Gen X, millennials and GenZ, and all three generations have different motivations, habits and levels of comfort with technology. SMBs need an organizational culture that engages and keeps every employee motivated to give their best whether it’s a loyal Dwight or a resplendent Pam.
A new kind of workforce demands a new approach and this might mean allowing part-time employees in the workforce, and building a culture where part-time and full-time employees work together and understand the company values equally well. Apart from integrating the right security protocols to prevent loss of information, a hybrid workforce requires the right approach to training.
For instance, an SMB may not invest in the skill development of a part-time employee but needs to ensure the employee is adept at a company-specific software essential for performing the job well.
Covid made the working world go virtual almost overnight for a long time, and even permanently at many organizations. Leaders who communicate with their teams regularly and ensure their employees know how their work contributes to the overall organizational goal to keep them engaged purposefully while accounting for the realities of a work-from-home setup will be able to build a cohesive culture. Importance of building trust among team members has become more important than ever before.
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