In today’s competitive market is not unheard of for businesses to become obsolete. Even the biggest brands can fall hard (think Blockbuster). How can small businesses go from fledgling to thriving in today’s economy? In large part, it comes down to understanding the opportunities and trends that present themselves. Entrepreneurs have to constantly stay on top of their game and at the top of mind of their existing customers.
Here are at least five areas for entrepreneurs to consider from the Huffington Post to help maximize business opportunities.
1. Local is where it’s at: The percentage of online search queries focused on local businesses continues to accelerate, with an even greater growth in local search via mobile devices. It is imperative that small businesses stake their claim now on basic local channels, like Google Places, and populate those sites with the types of information consumers are most likely to search for — products and services, hours of operation, contact phone number, physical address, etc. These basics to being found locally go a long way to ensure that a business leads the way in local search results. With the right search engine optimization (SEO) in place, a small business’ information can easily appear highly ranked on local search results.
2. Time to partner up: To better increase business results, small business owners must look for a partner that understands their digital needs, provides resources to save time and helps achieve success online—all within a tightly prescribed budget. By looking for an online marketing partner with a broad range of expertise, small business owners can focus on what should be their primary goal–making the business successful.
3. Mobile use is rising: Today, nearly 30% of all web traffic is generated from a mobile device, whether a smartphone or tablet, and that number is growing as smartphone/tablet penetration increases, mobile devices become more powerful and mobile networks grow closer to delivering a home broadband experience. Consumers already demand a desktop experience when browsing on a mobile device or tablet, and mobile optimized websites will be the key ingredient to delivering on that demand. Websites with limited content and clunky navigation will be quickly passed over for a site—and business—that delivers a better experience.
4. Electronic billing in a must: E-commerce is being mass adopted by small businesses not just for physical goods but service providers like landscapers, tax professionals, and even plumbers are recognizing the demand for electronic billing, invoicing and processing payments. To get ahead of the game and on par with big businesses, small businesses must deliver the same value-added services, and online shopping or electronic billing is a big step in the right direction.
5. Paid marketing plus social networking: the two work hand in hand to generate awareness and drive sales. Small businesses should look to paid marketing efforts for both advertising and social networks. Facebook is driving towards a more pay-to-play model with their ads—meaning a paid campaign will get posts and pages more visibility. Since one-third of U.S. adults now get their news from Facebook (according to a Pew Research Center study), a strong presence on Facebook, and other social media channels such as Pinterest, Twitter, etc., is highly important to create and strengthen personal relationships with current and potential customers.
Getting serious about having an online presence, meeting customers’ changing demands and maximizing the opportunities and shifts in the industry are what separate the successes from the failures. Big businesses have identified these areas and are able to implement digital efforts quickly, where small businesses have been slower to adopt, mainly because of budget and staffing limitations. Understanding how current trends affect your business is imperative to maximizing your success.