Article provided by Telkom
With 70 – 80% of all small businesses in South Africa failing within five years of opening their doors, many ambitious entrepreneurs will be wondering what the remaining 20 – 30% are doing differently. If you’re looking for a manual, you’ll be looking for a very long time. On the other hand, if you’re in search of advice in terms of how to go about sustaining your new business, read on.
That elusive ‘personal touch’
Many small business owners feel it is impossible to compete with larger companies that offer the same products and services as they do.
After all, how can you possibly contend with a company that is well established, has an endless marketing budget and boasts the resources necessary to provide its product or service on a much larger scale? The truth of the matter is that, as a small business, while you won’t have the same level of capital to play with as these industry big-wigs, and you might not be as well known, you do have something that they don’t. You have that elusive personal touch.
These days, everything revolves around building connections, being connected and staying connected – and yet we have never been so detached from one another as a result. In a society driven by monetary gain, it is difficult to come across as sincere and, as a consumer yourself, we are sure that you can agree that many of the bigger brands are failing at this, and quite miserably too. Could this be precisely because of their endless resources and the methods which they employ to manage their large consumer base? Think about it… customer queries are answered with automated responses and often outside help is employed to ensure that their Facebook response rate is kept at 100%. They have the resources necessary to automate all communication that exists between their brand and its consumers. Whereas small business owners who don’t have access to these resources are forced to be more hands-on – what they perceive to be their greatest weakness is actually their greatest strength.
While big businesses are telling their customers how much they care about their wants and needs, small businesses are walking the talk. While big businesses are pretending to be sincere, small businesses actually are.
The way in which you treat and communicate with your customers is the number one differentiator and the key to success. In a world that has become centred on deadlines, instant gratification and in-your-face marketing practices, people have never appreciated a warm smile and a kind word more than they do today.
Never remaining stagnant
According to the ‘State of South African Small Business’ study conducted by Xero in partnership with World Wide Worx, 67.9% of small business owners see economic volatility as the biggest challenge standing in their way of success. Unfortunately, we have very little control over the state of the economy. However, what we can control is how we conduct ourselves within the existing economic and business environment. The key to success in most things in life is to never be satisfied with what you have, and business is no exception. This doesn’t mean being ungrateful or neglecting to acknowledge the many wonderful things that you’ve managed to achieve thus far. It means always striving for more, never allowing yourself to get comfortable, and constantly seeking improvement.
Heard about a communication skills workshop taking place in your area? Attend it. Received a negative piece of customer feedback on your Facebook page? Make the changes necessary in order to fix it and stop it from happening again. Been approached by an employee who is keen to take on more responsibility and grow in his career? Mentor him.
By taking steps to ensure regular improvement when it comes to all aspects of your business, you can always be pretty sure that you’ll remain at least one step ahead of failure.
The right ICT partner
Another factor that can help to keep your business on the right track is finding the right ICT partner and solutions. As a leading supplier, Telkom is known for reducing the cost to communicate for all South Africans, and providing business owners with all that they need to ensure accessibility, affordability and sustainability. For more information regarding the unique options available to you, click through to www.telkom.co.za or visit your nearest Telkom store today.