Every third week in October, Canada celebrates #SmallBusinessWeek – a national celebration of Canadian entrepreneurs and how they contribute to Canada’s economic growth. Created by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Small Business Week has been running for over 42 years and brings together close to 10,000 entrepreneurs to learn, network and celebrate the people building businesses across the country through a series of events and activations.
At FAULHABER, we understand the challenges, opportunities and impact small business can make. We’ve helped countless small businesses grow over the last 20 years, working with start-ups, restaurants, Canadian fashion designers and retail concepts across the country. Not only have we helped other small businesses grow, but we are also proud to be a small business ourselves – one that has successfully grown over the last two decades.
Running a small business is no easy feat; it takes passion, grit, and an unwavering amount of commitment, especially over the extended period of time where we have been faced with the additional burdens brought on by COVID-19. To celebrate #SmallBusinessWeek and all the hard-working, hustling, risk-taking and bold entrepreneurs following their dreams, we wanted to share a few tips and tricks to help you grow your small business. We see you, and we applaud you. Go get it!
Spend time defining your brand
To stand out in a saturated market, you need know to what makes you different from everyone else and use it to define your brand ethos. Develop your secret sauce and then articulate that into a strong marketing strategy across all your business touchpoints – website, logo design, customer service, packaging, communications materials, earned and paid social media marketing, email newsletter, media and influencer relations and more. Focus on what makes your brand unique and then scream from the rooftops about it.
Understand your audience and always stay connected to them
Making a persona of your ideal target audience or audiences is simply not enough. You need to really understand who is using and buying your products/services and what is driving them to do so. Ask for feedback through quick and easy customer surveys, read online reviews, and use your social media channels to engage with your customer base. Find out what makes your customers tick and what makes them buy, then rinse, recycle and repeat. Your goal should be building long-lasting relationships with your customers. Consider tactics like a value-driven newsletter strategy or a referral program that offers a special promotion to customers that pass on their love of your brand to help drive brand loyalty.
Double down on digital
COVID-19 has drastically accelerated customer and culture trends that were already developing. According to Forbes, 97% of executives said the pandemic sped up their digital transformation; 95% said they were looking for new ways to engage customers; and 79% said COVID-19 increased their budgets for digital transformation. We are buying everything online now, from pre-ordering our coffees on an app, to having our groceries delivered to our doorstop. If you weren’t thinking digital-first, now is the time to level up. This can mean a variety of things including optimizing your website with SEO, maximizing your paid and earned social media marketing strategies, implementing digital advertisements, and ensuring you have the best possible UX by adopting all the latest plug-ins for a frictionless shopping experience. Prioritize one-click purchasing options or tap into technology like AI chatbots to improve your customer experience online. It’s important that you approach your digital ecosystem from a holistic perspective and think about your strategy across all the digital interactions where your customer might experience your brand.
Leverage the power of social media
According to a report released in January 2021 by Hootsuite and We are Social, nearly 85% of Canadians are social media users. Whether you are a small local coffee shop or a retail shop selling products online, tapping into social media is one of the most effective ways to widen your audience and create lasting connections with your existing audience. If you aren’t using social media, you are living in the dark ages. If you aren’t optimising your social channels to grow brand awareness, drive online sales and nurture a dedicated community, you are missing the powerful potential of social media to grow your business. With the rise of social commerce and direct-to-purchase options across a variety of social media platforms, you are literally leaving sales on the table if you don’t execute a smart and engaging social media strategy. Make sure you explore both earned and paid strategies to ensure you are maximizing your reach and that you are staying on top of the latest trends, from TikTok to Reels to live-stream shopping.
Cross-Pollinate with Strategic Partnerships
One of the best ways to organically grow your business is to strategically align yourself with like-minded brands to create unique customer experiences or activations. By tapping into another brand who has a similar audience, you are opening yourself to a pool of qualified customers. At FAULHABER, we believe there is magic to be made from strategic pairings – we’ve brought together a luxury automobile and a high-end fashion retailer for a bespoke event, an ethical and inclusive lingerie brand with a cannabis wellness brand to release a limited-edition product line, hosted Instagram contests partnering across multiple brands and executed a pop-up of a wellness brand in fitness and yoga centres across the country. Try finding a brand that connects to your brand ethos but offers a different product/service and then strategize on a way where you can add value to their audience with your brand.
Tap into partners and tools to make an impact
There is an African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child and this is true when said child happens to be your business. Find the right team, the right partners and the right tools to propel your business forward. There are many amazing innovative offerings out there that can help you drive your business forward from Fivver, an online marketplace to find freelancers for a variety of services, to 99 designs by Vistaprint which is an affordable graphic design service that makes it easy to work with professional, creative experts from around the world and build your brand through custom, memorable design. Depending on your size and needs, the right agency partner can also drive huge ROI for your business.
Believe in yourself!
Finally, never stop believing in yourself. The grind of running a small business can be challenging and often it feels like you are wearing too many hats to count. Remember to tap into that passion that made you take that leap and celebrate the small wins along the way. In the words of Journey “Don’t Stop Believin’”.
To learn more about how FAULHABER can help you achieve your business goals, check out our services page here or reach out to book a call.