Today's entrepreneurs face an uphill battle when starting their businesses. Whereas the competition in business has always been stiff, many trailblazers of yesteryear typically competed against only other locally owned businesses. But thanks to the Internet, businesses are now competing on a national, if not global, stage, making it harder than ever for businesspersons to draw attention to their products and services.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, roughly 66 percent of small businesses will survive their first two years. While that number should calm the nerves of entrepreneurs familiar with the widely circulated statistic that eight out of 10 small businesses fail, it's important to note that the five-year survival rate of establishments opened between 1994 and 2010 was just about 50 percent. A 50 percent chance to be in business five years after opening is certainly better than a 20 percent chance, but a 50/50 shot at being in business five years from now is unlikely to excite many prospective business owners.
When starting out, small business owners must find ways to make their presence felt in crowded marketplaces. Though the following strategies might take time and some trial and error before a business starts to draw some attention, small business owners can greatly increase their chances of being successful by committing to marketing.
- Start early. Entrepreneurs need not wait until the doors of their businesses open to start spreading the word. In fact, waiting until the doors open may be too late. Take to social media sites, particularly the ones your target customer base is most likely to use, and establish a profile of yourself and your business. Update the status of your business at least once per week as you draw closer to your grand opening.
- Start blogging. Blogging about your business and posting content to that blog that's easily shared is another effective way to spread the word about your products and services. When creating content, make sure it can be easily shared through Facebook and other social media platforms. Such content can go from being seen by one potential customer to being seen by hundreds in a matter of minutes.
- Encourage reviews. Few modern consumers make a purchase without first reading some product reviews. A recent survey from Jupiter Research found that 77 percent of people take the time to read reviews of a product or service before making an online purchase. Small business owners can use that to their advantage by encouraging customers to review their products and services. In addition, before opening your business, contact locally based bloggers and offer them the chance to review your products as a means to spreading buzz before opening your doors.
- Seek help from family and friends. Friends and family members are wonderful assets for small business owners. Ask friends and family to spread the word about your business via social media and traditional word of mouth. Many of your friends and family are no doubt proud of you for going out on your own, so expect them to be enthusiastic when asked to help spread the word.
Small business owners face a big challenge in getting their businesses off the ground. But there are ways to spread the word and increase your chances of being in business for many years to come.