Grow your small business with these 10 helpful tips.

1. Define Your Brand

It’s easy to get caught up in the conventional thinking that a brand means a name and a logo, and maybe the colors and products associated with your business. However, especially in this day of information and social media, your brand is much more than what customers can see at a glance. It’s also the way you communicate with your customers, how they feel about your products and services, and why they want to do business with you. These reasons and more encourage repeat business and referrals because of the integrity and quality you provide.

2. Be Different

Figure out what makes your business unusual. You probably started your venture to fill a niche, so that’s a good place to start defining your differentiating factors. Also, ask your loyal customers and family and friends why they like your business. You might discover details or intangibles you hadn’t considered. Once you have a list, begin to incorporate some of these attributes in your marketing materials.

3. Offer Outstanding Services and Products

You might have the best location, the slickest advertising campaign, and the most seasoned sales team, but those can only take you so far. If you don’t have the goods—and services —to back up outward appearances, your customers will turn to your competitors. Stay abreast of customers’ needs and current trends and never stop developing new or better ways to serve your clientele. Your customers will reward you with their repeat business and word-of-mouth promotion.

4. Stay Involved with Your Business

As your business starts to take off, you may be tempted to leave the daily operations in the hands of your capable staff. No one could blame you for wanting to do this. After all, you probably hired and trained your team well and have policies and procedures in place in case of any issues. But, think about this. Your loyal customers are used to seeing your face, and your personal touch may be what has made your business the successful venture it has become. Your employees may also suffer from lack of morale and miss your regular guidance as a result of your absence. Their behavior can have a profound negative effect on your carefully crafted service and product. You should have confidence in your staff, but be sure to be present more than not.

5. Choose the Best Name and Logo

While your brand is more than your name and logo, they are still vital to your business’s success. After all, they make the first impression on your customers. If your logo is hard to interpret, your name difficult to pronounce or spell, or if your name simply doesn’t explain what you do, you may have an expensive problem on your hands. Hire a graphic designer and maybe a marketing consultant to help you get your name and logo right the first time. The fees will be worth the initial outlay of cash. Test your new logo and name out on colleagues, neighbors, and others whose opinions you trust. Better yet, try the logo and name on your target customers. This way, you can rest assured you will make the right impact on the people who will buy your products and services.

6. Stand Out with a Unique Voice

Your logo and name are the first impressions your customers’ experience, but the longer-lasting memories rely on how you make your customers feel. A spa might want to give off a vibe of relaxation and personal care. A skateboard shop has a different audience who would relate better to relevant slang terms and a feeling of an adrenaline rush. Your voice will extend from your in-person interactions to your ads and social media posts so there is a consistent tone to everything related to your business.

7. Develop a Sense of Community

A cost-effective method for creating a successful company revolves around developing a group of customers who believe in your brand and make friendships because of it. This sense of community can take different forms, depending on the nature of your business and your customers’ demographics. For example, a dance studio might host regular events like picnics that could bring students and their families together. A computer repair business might create an online forum where customers can ask other customers for software suggestions and request basic advice from your technicians. These types of activities, even participation in local fundraisers, need not be expensive.

8. Show Your Passion

Most small business owners have specific skills related to their industry and lack the traditional salespeople traits like smooth-talking, extroverted, and highly energetic. The good news is that you don’t have to fit that stereotype to promote your business successfully. Your customers want to see your genuine passion for your business and your extensive knowledge that you’re happy to share with them. Display your enthusiasm when networking it or offer an alternate solution that exceeds the original request’s value. Word of bad customer service disseminates quickly online and is hard to remove.

9. Keep Your Promises

We’ve all heard the business adage, “underpromise and overdeliver”. Disappointing some customers is inevitable as their expectations may be unreasonably high and not dependent on anything you have expressly stated. But most of your customers will rely on what they are told you will do. Appointment times should be adhered to as closely as possible, for instance. Prices must be up-to-date on your website. If an error is made, do your best to correct it or offer an alternate solution that exceeds the original requests value. Word of bad customer service disseminates quickly online and is hard to remove.

10. Identify Your Value

What value do you bring to your clients? You probably aren’t the least expensive among your competition, and that’s actually a plus. If you provide something extra besides your product or service alone, that is. Do you offer free delivery, a guarantee of customer satisfaction, a friendly staff, the latest technology? Any or all of these (and others) can impel a customer to spend more for what he or she gets back in terms of emotional reassurance that your product or service is the best answer to their problem.

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