Small businesses have big challenges. Lack of resources, changing market dynamics and policy frameworks pose a great threat. But it doesn't have to that way.
What the recent technology advancements mean for small businesses? While most people thing that the tiemes are difficult for them, I see that these are the best times to be a small business owner. Here I can explain my case and what you can do to not only survive these changing times but actually use them to thrive.
India, traditionally has been a home to millions of small to medium enterprises. The entrepreneurship DNA runs deep here.
The “Jugaad” mentality as it is said, is our own version of “finding local solutions to local problems”. And that to me is a classical entrepreneurial mindset.
But a lot has changed in past few decades. Technology has fundamentally changed the way consumers behave today and the change has been rapid since the arrival of Internet and social media. No longer large corporations can dominate customer’s perception by heavy advertisement. Google and Social Media research is an essential part in the decision making process. So, no matter what companies talk or say; consumers will do their own due diligence on Internet before believing them.
Also, heavy usage of social media means that customers today expect corporations to be more human.
They no longer want to interact with nameless, faceless organizations hiding behind their logos. They want to talk to real people who care and give personalized attention. Plus the interactions need to be more regular, proactive and consistent.
This is scary for large corporations, as consumers today have a tremendous amount of power. They control the flow of information into their lives. They also can verify it’s authenticity with various sources on social media and internet. Peer reviews and word of mouth has never been more powerful.
And here is the exact opportunity for small businesses.
As customers are looking for more personalised treatment, small businesses providing local products and services can and must capitalise on the opportunity.
By the very nature of their businesses, they are personal and local. So, the game works in their favor.
All they need to do is just change the way they have been seeing marketing and advertisement. Customer service and engagement, which for long have been missing in their priority list, should now take the center stage.
In fact customer service is the new marketing today.
They must take their social media presence very seriously. In fact they should have a dedicated social media team; might as well hire an external agency as experts do it the best. It should not be limited to posting and replying to comments; they need an overall strategy connecting their social media presence to lead generation to sales. The benefits of an effective social media strategy run deep into not only creating a robust system of marketing and lead generation, but also effectively engaging with customers after sales.
This isn't and cannot be a transactional exercise or some kind of quick fix. I talk to a lot of small business owners, and this is how they tend to see it. The reason is simple;
the shift in the consumer behaviour is permanent. Society has changed fundamentally. Technology is here to stay. Internet is here to stay. We are not going back to caves.
And small businesses need to evolve and adapt. There is huge upside they can capitalize on. If they don’t; well, evolution made many species extinct. And evolution is the most permanent force in nature.