Attention small business owners: There is a new digital divide between those companies embracing technology to run their business and those that aren’t. Don’t get caught on the wrong side!
Does your website help your business grow?
Did you know that 60% of small businesses today don’t have a website? And for those that do, many are just a glorified online brochure, rather than an extension of the business. Visitors are not able or encouraged to take the next step to engage with the organization, e.g., complete a survey, book an appointment, purchase a product or service, or request more information.
That’s simply not going to cut it in today’s customer service landscape, where the customer makes purchasing decisions online. Today’s customers are demanding more – many of them want online support and online ordering; in essence, they want to be able to do everything they can online without having to call you.
Customer experience is overtaking price and product as the key differentiator. The way you keep customers is by offering a better customer experience, and that comes from interacting with them on their terms. Beyond phone, web conference or even face-to-face options, customers want the option to interact with your business online. You must build a digital workplace to service customers in the 21st century.
Three key elements of a digital workplace
In order to equip your business to cross the digital divide, we encourage small business owners to think about three major priorities:
- Website – What does your website look like on desktop and mobile? How well does it function as a marketing communications platform? How does it communicate your value proposition to customers and prospects? Can they buy right from your website? Do you publish information that’s useful to customers and also boosts the popularity of your site? Have you built an email list or a social media presence so that you can keep your company top of mind with your prospects and customers?
- Analytics – Do you have means of collecting insight analytics of some sort, such as Google Analytics? To what extent do you know how your website is resonating with your audience, and how your business model is performing? Can you quantify your business’s success in terms of profitability, cash flow, etc.?
- Automation – Do you have a way to collect data from prospects and customers without letting anyone fall through the cracks? Do you have the ability to take someone to the next level from prospect to customer by collecting some information and then responding in either a partially or completely automated fashion?
For example, a landscaper’s website may have a form to request a quote, where a salesperson will follow up, and another form to sign up for a newsletter and be immediately added to a database to receive ongoing communications. Automation can take on many different forms.
The trap of business ownership
Traditionally, small business owners don’t have core expertise in any or all of these three areas. They know how to deliver a particular service, or they may be very sales and marketing-oriented, but they’re still missing one or all of these skill sets.
At NewPath, we see businesses who either aren’t doing anything at all and behind left behind, or they start trying to solve their technology problems alone. But a pretty new website, jazzed up content, or a web-based invoice and billing system, on their own, don’t address the bigger issue because they don’t connect the dots to the company’s business model.
Website, analytics and automation each require constant focus. And here’s the key question for business owners: Now that you’ve invested in technology, how do you juggle your priorities to rise above the competition?
Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth books, aims to help business owners out of the trap of constantly working in your business, to stepping into the big picture of creating systems and structures to work on your business.
At NewPath we believe there are eight systems that every business needs. None of them are about about implementing your actual service, rather they are systems that help make your business a better business, and give your customers the stellar experience that will set you apart.
What’s your score?
As you read through this list, ask yourself how many of these do you feel confident about, and which ones are keeping you up at night? Those answers are the key to your growth as a digital business.
- Provide great customer service – Are you accessible in a way that your prospects appreciate? How quickly do you respond to email and do you provide satisfactory answers? Are you available by phone?
- Be more responsive – Can you get back to someone with a proposal or service fairly quickly, but in a way that saves you from reinventing the wheel every time?
- Automate processes – This one element underpins all the others, and applies to many different areas of your business from prospecting, sales and marketing, to fundraising and event ticket sales. Ultimately you want to eliminate any need to retype or re-enter data, or manage details on multiple spreadsheets.
- Review analytics and forecast – Are you regularly looking at how your business is performing? Can you review your cash flow and other metrics every month or quarter, without making yourself crazy trying to compile the data? Can you see how your content marketing is performing, and what makes sense and what doesn’t?
- Connect with and attract prospects – Are you doing a good job of marketing your company and getting visibility, with leads coming in not just by word of mouth but by referrals from your partners? Have you achieved thought leadership and visibility in your industry and/or your local community? Does your reputation speak for itself?
- Acquire emails and convert leads – Are you systematically building an email list that allows you to generate a following and fanbase?
- Nurture relationships and build loyalty – Do you use those emails to continuously communicate with your audience and be sure you’re top of mind? If someone hears of a need or has a need for your service, are you going to be one they think of and refer to?
- Secure your data and financials – Do you have a security policy, and a way to make sure your data is backed up, readily available, and secure?
How did you do?
If you feel confident about 6-8 of the systems on this list, congratulations on making such a strong effort to work on your business and not just in your business. If you find yourself getting tired of juggling all these balls on your own, or you’re curious how much more efficient you could be, talk to us about reviewing your systems and showing you what else is possible.
If you’re managing 3-5 of these areas, but you’ve lost sight of the rest, you’re likely feeling the weight of this lopsided reality. Let’s discuss how to build on your strengths and fill in the gaps.
If you’ve been diving in and out of only a couple of areas on this list, but mainly focused on delivering your service and putting out day-to-day fires, you’re probably at your wit’s end. What’s worse, the business you’re working so hard to keep afloat is in danger of dissolving before your very eyes. Get in touch. Now.
NewPath’s SMB experts are here to help you choose, implement and use new technology in order to benefit your business and find you more time. Business Success Plans start at $239.00/month for all-inclusive technology, service and support with no contracts or start-up fees. Contact us today to learn more and get started!