I could start with a flashy or inspiring quote from a gritty, small business owner that triumphantly succeeded. But the fact of the matter is that it’s hard to own a small business. Sometimes REALLY hard. Now I’m not promising that this post guides you to instant notoriety and millions of dollars, but it does contain five quick tips for how you can take your small business, or business idea, and give it some professional flair...

1.Create a website

Why? Because it’s 2018 and although posters and billboards are great, if I need a burger, lawyer, photographer, tech-guru, or even a plumber, I’m going online to find it. A website gives your small business a platform to grow by generating awareness for your product or service. There are plenty of great website creation services and how-to’s out there so I’ll save you from that spiel. Though the best word of advice I can give you regarding constructing your website comes from the late, great graphic designer, Paul Rand.  He claimed that “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” The content is the most important part of your website. If you bore me with poor design and inconsistent branding, I’ll be three clicks away before I even know what you are selling. Decide what content you want to include on your website, create a corresponding navigation menu, get a personalized domain (URL), and include your logo on the top left corner of your home page: You are well on your way to launching your business website!

2. Design a logo

We briefly touched on company logos in the last point, and for good reason. Depriving your business of a logo makes finding and recalling your business comparable to searching for a needle in a haystack for customers. Visual satisfaction and a lasting impression are the main points of emphasis for your logo. Remember to be concise though, as an overdone logo with too much happening all at once will only distract customers. They become so consumed with the logo and what is going on visually, that they don’t make a conscious effort to take in the information being presented about the business. Consider hiring a graphic designer to create original visuals, use a color scheme that falls within the parameters of your brand, and be sure to remember that “even large companies need small logos” (Tanner Christensen, writer/product developer). Just by creating that logo, you’ve set yourself ahead of much of your small business’ competition.

3. Be involved and promote on social media

There is tons of leeway here, you can be as passive and productive as the Ford Motor Company, or as sarcastically active as Wendy’s (just check out their twitter). The main point is simply to get your company name circulating on a variety of platforms that reach different target audiences. For small business owners this is where you have excess opportunity to test a variety of marketing techniques to see what will work best for your brand. You can do all the research in the world, but what you will continually utilize in the future is determined by what you have seen be effective first-hand. Have FUN with it! Whether it is snapchat story posts, personally designed GIFs, or an Instagram post promoting your business’ next event, if you enjoyed creating it and the content is relevant, there’s a good chance your consumers will be amused and/or influenced, as well.

4. Listen to customer feedback

Adapting your product or service to meet the expectations of consumers cannot be emphasized enough. This is where your small business has an edge on the behemoths that dominate the market. By making time to become aware of customers’ feedback, you create a feeling of being personally valued, an occurrence infrequently replicated at the corporation level of business. Proper surveying and research provides you with the opportunity to consistently innovate, and consequently, grow your business. From sending out optional surveys to personally conversing over questions/concerns by way of your business email address, you give yourself all the necessary tools to acquire repeat customers for the foreseeable future.

5. Don’t overdo it!

Far too often aspiring small business owners try to convince themselves they are succeeding more than they actually are and it leads to rapid failure. Always be honest with yourself about where your business is in terms of investors, financials, clients, etc. Don’t do things that are so transparently desperate you will simply end up looking foolish. i.e. If you are the owner of a small photography business, don’t put “CEO” on your business cards, your clients will not be in awe of you, they may very well pity you. 😬 Sometimes leaving a title off of your business cards, or electing to not break the bank by catering sushi for an event, is in your company’s best interest.

Now, I doubt I’ve changed anyone’s life with these tips. But hopefully those struggling with what to work on next, when further developing their business, have found some semblance of direction through the past five bits of advice. If I could leave you with one idea, it’s this: If you have a small business, there’s no reason to not accomplish at least one of these steps. Who knows? That one small action could lead to a bright future. If you have a website, Instagram page for your business, or some other medium by which you’re promoting your small business, post a link in the comments below.  We’d love to check it out! Networking is another important part of being a small business owner; this is a great way to start!

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together” - Vincent Van Gogh

Make sure to like this post and comment a business or product idea you would be interested in starting!

-Haley Scott and Joe Torkelson