Five Things You Must Do to Run a Successful Small Business

I’m super excited to be speaking as part of a panel at “EVO ’10: The Evolution of Women in Social Media” Conference at the end of June. Since my work as a mompreneur coach focuses on helping moms create successful businesses, I have been asked to participate in the Secrets for Small Business Success Panel.

In preparation for this, I’ve put together Five Things You Must Do to Run a Successful Small Business for you below. And if you haven’t already, please check out the EVO ’10 Conference–it’s in Park City, Utah, June 24-26. I would love to meet you there! Be sure to leave a comment below and let me know if you’re planning to attend 🙂

1.  Choose a narrow target audience. This is counter-intuitive for most of us, since common sense tells us that the more people we can make our biz appeal to, the more people are likely to spend their money buying our stuff. Not true. We’re in a global, internet-related community now with gazillions of offerings to choose from. Small businesses cannot compete effectively on that scale. Be the big fish in a little pond!

2.  Get engaged with your audience. Once you narrow your target market down, you’ll be able to find your audience better, to join the groups and communities they belong to, to appear in blogs and media they consume. Be an active participant in these forums and be authentic. Over time, you’ll build relationships that increase the like/know/trust factor. We are savvy consumers now and are much more likely to buy from people with whom we have relationships than from the person with the biggest ad in the newspaper. Build strong relationships with your target audience and the business will follow!

3.  Create pain-killers, not vitamins. As you listen to your clients (by tweeting with them, reading and commenting on their blog posts, attending their networking meetings, taking polls or surveys, etc.), pay attention to what they describe as their top challenges, biggest struggles, ongoing issues, pain points. Create your business products and services to solve those pains! We’re more likely to pay for solutions to our problems than for things (like vitamins) that we know are good for us or that promise to “improve our lives.” Be the solution!

4.  Give, give, give. When faced with fierce competition, find ways to provide more value to your clients. Don’t discount your prices and reduce your rates. Doing so decreases your value. Instead, find ways to make whatever you’re offering even more valuable to your clients in a way that serves you both. You’ll stand out from the crowd and develop loyalty that will cause your clients to stick with you and tell everyone they know how great you and your offerings are!

5.  Pick a platform/niche. The key is focus. So many small business owners try to be everything to everybody, and wind up trying to piece-together a “business” that is really just a hodge-podge of skills and things they know how to do to make money. Being a business owner requires vision, strategy, planning and marketing. All of this is nearly impossible to accomplish if you’re trying to sell several different offerings to many different groups of people. Instead, opt for being THE ONE your audience looks to when they need a solution to their problems. Build your visibility, credibility and recognition as AN EXPERT on one platform (solution to a problem) first. When you dominate that and have a loyal following and full pipeline of clients, you can add another piece to the platform or expand your niche. But you must focus first, expand later!

What is one thing you believe is critical to your small business success? Or tell me how you’re applying any of the tips I gave above. And hey–did you check out EVO ’10 yet? It’s gonna be one fun tweet-up! Please leave your comments below.

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