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Is Your Business Ready to Compete in the 21st Century?

Oct 12, 2013

So, you’re finally able to realize your most cherished dream – that of becoming an entrepreneur. The good news is that you can give yourself a pat on the back and feel mighty proud. Lots of people dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Not everyone does. The bad news, however, is that this is just the beginning and you’ve a long road ahead.

The first thing you need to figure out after starting a business, big or small, is its readiness to compete in the 21st century. The days when mom and pop shops used to thrive and word of mouth was the only way to advertise your business are long gone.

The demands of a 21st century business enterprise are very different and you can either keep pace or get left out. What’s it going to be? I think we both know the answer to that, so let me give you some pointers on staying competitive in the 21st century.

1. Build a website

There cannot be anything more 21st century than having a web property. Just think about it. Your friend tells you of this great retail store that sells exotic spices. Aren’t you a little bit curious to find out what it’s about before actually making a trip down to the store? If you’re anything like me, the first thing you’d do after that conversation is go online to check the store out.

For a lot of shoppers, purchasing decisions are made while researching on the web and that’s not something you want to miss out on by not having a website. There are many other benefits of having a website such as:

·         It’s a great platform to showcase your work to a large audience. When you use your website as a promotional tool, you’re catering to a worldwide audience as opposed to other promotional channels like television commercials, flyers, radio spots, etc. that are more local.
·         Creating and maintaining a website is much more economical than traditional forms of advertising and marketing and there’s no limit to the amount of information you can share with your target audience.
·         At some point, you can build an e-commerce platform and start selling your products and/or services through your website. Just assume that more and more people are likely to start shopping sitting on their couch in the future.

2. Start processing credit cards

If you’ve a “cash-only” policy for your small business, here’s something you may find interesting.Community Merchants U.S.A. has projected that cash point of sale purchases will drop to 23% by 2017. The survey also reported that 58% of small businesses are regularly asked by their customers to accept credit card payment.

Now think back to the last time you saw a look of frustration on a customer’s face when you told them you don’t accept credit cards. Did it happen last evening? This morning?Just a few minutes ago? What if the customer does not have the required cash? That means you end up losing business that was yours for the taking.

There’s no reason for a small business to not have a credit card processing system in this day and age. Not only will you be able to attract more customers and hence more business, but setting up credit card processing will also benefit you in various other ways such as:


  • ·         People who shop with credit cards end up making many more impulse purchases than those who shop with cash.
  • ·         Your checkout process will become much faster once you start accepting credit cards and lead to higher customer satisfaction.
  • ·         Let’s face it. Accepting credit cards is a lot more convenient than taking cash payments or the even more obsolete check not to mention more secure. 

3. Register your business in local directories

There was a time when getting your business listed on the Yellow Pages was one of the most effective ways of generating leads. I am not saying that it’s not anymore, but I personally don’t know of too many people who search for businesses on printed Yellow Pages nowadays. Why? Because it’s much easier and faster to do it online.

Say you’re out shopping with your kids in an unfamiliar neighborhood and they ask for pizza. What do you do? Simple – you go to the Google Maps app on your smartphone and look for pizza parlors in the area. One press of a button will provide you various options and then some.

Do you want to miss out on that kind of impromptu business? I guess not. So, register your small business with local directories like Google Local, Yahoo Local, Yelp.com, YellowPages.com, etc. and enjoy benefits like:

·        
By registering your business in online directories, you’ll be able to generate local leads and attract more customers. 
Google Local allows customers to write reviews of the businesses listed with them. It’s a great way to advertise your business.
Internet marketing is recognized as one of the most effective and budget-friendly ways to promote a business. Listing your business with a local directory is an important component of an integrated online marketing plan.

To stay relevant and competitive in today’s marketplace, you need to get with times. These are three simple and not very expensive ways to make your small business 21st century-ready. Your business may be small, but your aspirations need not be!

Pitch:

Starting a small business is just the first step to becoming a successful entrepreneur. There are many more to follow if you want to stay competitive and one of them is to make sure your small business is ready for the 21st century. How do you ensure that? Read this post to find out…
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