Man reaching for the sky

In the past few years there has been a wave of small businesses opening across the country, individuals and small groups thinking they want to turn that idea into a business, or thinking they are tired of working for someone else. They want more flexibility, less dependence on others, and they want to do something they actually care about.

The result is a vibrant, highly competitive but at the same time inclusive scene – where small business owners and entrepreneurs form a community of unity in diversity, creating an array of specialised shops, cafés and agencies. As consumers we have more choice than ever, and if we wanted to, we could easily avoid the big brands completely.

Another thing we have witnessed is empty shop windows, as a result of small businesses struggling to make ends meet and having to abandon ship. They simply don’t make enough money. And this is the interesting bit – most people say they love the variety that small shops and brands bring. They love the choice that small companies bring. They love the expertise that tend to follow a small businesses. People don’t start the business completely out of the blue – they do it because they care about what they are doing, what they are selling or those they sell to.

We want to help and support the small businesses out there – whether they are sandwich shops or book shops, bakeries or they specialise in used cars. Here are 7 easy tips to growing your business, regardless of which sector you’re in.

  1. Be knowledgeable. Present yourself as the expert in your area of business, and people will regard you as just that.
  2. Be consistent and trustworthy. These go hand in hand, and also build on knowledge. Make sure your customers can trust you to deliver.
  3. Present yourself properly. That also goes for your business. Tidy up, clean up, make it look fresh and inviting. First impressions matter greatly in every industry.
  4. Listen to your customer. Why are they visiting you? What do they want? How can you help? Ask these questions, and you can be sure they will warm to you in a way that will sell far more than a stone faced efficient manner.
  5. Offer something extra. You don’t need to compete on price, as long as your value is good. This means that, if you sell furniture that they surely can get cheaper elsewhere – make sure you are available and helpful, and offer them help with carrying, packing and transport.
  6. Be open for suggestions or requests from customers (within reason). By being accommodating, friendly and approachable, you stand a good chance of being remembered and being talked about. One happy customer is highly likely to recommend you further, bringing in new business, who in turn will do the same. Focus on your existing customers to get new ones.
  7. Give them an incentive to come back. They’re happy with the outcome of dealing with you, and you’ve made a successful sale. Now to increase the chance of them becoming regular, offer them a loyalty program. Human nature seems to dictate that we go for deals, regardless of how good it is. Offer them a 10% discount on their third visit, a free coffee per 5 they buy, or similar. To really make use of this, go digital with the Loyalzoo app, which allows you to message the customer through push notifications – making sure you keep your shop/business at the top of customers minds.

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