It is a valid and important question every business owner should ask. Today’s technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Almost everyday something new hits the markets. New applications, new designs, new ways to market business, and let’s not forget new tools like Google Glass, smart watches, smart clothing even smart fitness! It’s easy to get lost and fall behind in this fast paced world. Do you have all the strategic resources your business needs to succeed?
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Are we connected to our customers?
This could very well be the most important question to ask yourself and your team. Are we connected? Today’s customers want to be involved, share their experiences, display their love for the product or service, and have an open platform to provide their suggestions, comments, and even their dislikes. If your business is disconnected from its consumers, how can you improve the quality of your service or product? It is vital to know who your customers are and what they need from you to stay with you.
- What are our competitors doing?
Why should you care about that? Simple, if all of your competitors have a mobile app for example and you don’t, it could spell trouble for the future. Customers want to be entertained and want to have ease of access and use. They want to feel like they are a part of something bigger. If your competitor gives them that feeling for the same price, it could be what they needed to convert your customers to theirs. Are they highly interactive on social media and receive a lot of feedback? You should be there too. Just like you should watch what works for them, you also need to watch what doesn’t work for them. Learn from the mistakes of others.
- Are we present in Social Media?
Just owning a facebook page where you update statuses and post pictures isn’t enough anymore. Be available for you customers; share your and their experiences, be readily available and receptive to their input. It ties in with being connected. Your business doesn’t need to be on every single social media platform, but a few, well-chosen platforms can boost and attract new customers. Be transparent and inviting.
- Is our website up to par?
There are many websites out there that get lost in the web. Many aren’t fully optimized and still sport the same look they started with. Search for and visit your website, and pretend to be a customer who knows nothing about your services or mission. Is it easy to find via search engine queries? Is it easy to navigate? Does it offer value to the visitor? Is it visually appealing? Is it regularly updated? If your answer is “Yes” to all, then it is safe to assume that you already know the value of well-kept websites, but website visibility and search engine capabilities are constantly evolving. Even with all the apps and social media platforms, having a great website that updates consistently is vital to success.
These are just a few questions you should consider and evaluate honestly. They can be the difference in attracting or losing paying customers. Everyone has come across a business that sounded like it had great things to offer but the website was so difficult to navigate and slow to load that it wasn’t worth the effort to continue = Business lost.
- Keeping up with the New
With all the new technologies and trends coming out it is natural to want the best and newest of everything. While it is good to be ahead of the competition, it is important to determine if an emerging trend actually works for your business or if you should stick with what is working.
- Is the emerging trend relative to my business?
Let’s say you own a fitness studio and you could get a few promotional fitness shirts or rather smart shirts that monitor the wearer’s heart rate, skin temperature, and respiration. Obviously the promoter wants to sell the shirts but is giving a few for free to convince your business it is worth it. Your trainers wear them and since they are absolutely relevant to your business, you may sell them to your customers for profit. Win-win situation here. You found a new technology in your niche and made it work. But let’s say you own a bakery or cupcake store. You receive the same offer. Are free shirts nice? Yes. Is it relevant to your business? No. Would you buy them? No. This same thought process works for you as well. When you offer promotional products, make sure it is relevant.
- Is it worth the initial cost?
That depends on what you are doing. If it is intended to be a leader loss such as if you spend $5.000 on apps development that is relevant to your business and it attracts and retains customers, then yes it was worth it and will return a profit at a later time. If you do a promotional series and give free things to your customers to attract business, it can go both ways. If you offer too much for free or low cost you may lose your investment if there is no reason for the customer to buy additional items or services. You must analyse potential opportunities and potential losses before following the crowd with new business development strategies.
- Are we mobile enough?
This is a vital question in today’s business world. Not only are more employees and business owners connected than ever before, your customers are too. They are mobile, on the go, one touch shopping, scanning and immediate feedback giving customers. Can you keep up with them? Are you mobile enough to take a business opportunity when it presents itself? Or are you still hanging on to your trusted desktop or laptop that has served you well for years? Aside from a smartphone, new technologies you should consider for your business mobility are tablets, cloud service or a mix of tablet and laptop like the Surface Pro from Microsoft that offers you the best of both worlds in addition to apps like Sharepoint, Dropbox or your own demo app.
It’s not easy keeping up with all the trends and technologies available to today’s businesses and their customers. It can be overwhelming and exhausting doing it alone. Social Media alone can be a full time job, but is well worth the investment. For technology and web needs, IT staffing can be a valuable resource and asset for businesses that need help with their strategies and execution of a well-rounded approach to emerging trends.
We, at Microsoft, provide ‘Talking Business’ to help entrepreneurs and business owners’ succeed. We believe in your ability to innovate and in the ability of technology to help, so to support ‘Talking Business’ we have many resources available for businesses like you. We have an informative newsletter, blog posts by people in the industry, and a community looking to help small business succeed.
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