Today is Mardi Gras – a day filled with beads, bright colors, and probably a little too much food and spirits. Regardless of its excessive overtones, it’s still a day meant to celebrate and celebrate we shall. While I can’t offer you a delectable slice of King Cake or a glass of traditional milk punch, I can give you some reasons to kick back and enjoy your role as a small business owner.
Here are five reasons you can celebrate this year.
5 Reasons to Celebrate
1. 2019 Is the Year of Personalization
With steep competition coming from all angles, it can be hard for small business owners to gain loyal customers. However, one-way small business owners may overcome this hurdle is through personalization. According to a SalesForce survey, 84 percent of consumers site being treated like a person is of primary importance, and nearly 60 percent say that “tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important” in winning repeat business.
As a small business owner, this puts you and your employees in the prime position to woo customers through personalization. And though this certainly can and should represent the need for data-driven marketing strategies that utilize available consumer info, it also means that small business owners are at a unique advantage.
Unlike big box retailers, small business owners often have the opportunity to cultivate more intimate relationships with their customers and their community, particularly when they pay attention to the details often missed by algorithms and data sets.
2. Local SEO Is Powerful and You’re in Control
For many small businesses, dumping dollar after dollar into marketing channels can be difficult, and though a strong marketing budget can certainly help, there are other ways you can boost your brand. This is particularly true when it comes to your local SEO efforts.
Customer reviews play an important part in the big picture. According to a recent study, a full 84 percent of consumers trust internet reviews as much as personal ones. And, according to a recent Google Local Rankings Survey, Google reviews, when combined with social signals (Facebook engagement, Twitter engagement, etc.), personalization, behavioral signals (click to call, CTR, etc.) can account for over 30 percent of your ranking.
In other words, the more positive reviews and engagement, the better your chances at locking in a better ranking in your local search results. That may not seem like a big deal, but for small business owners, it means the ability to easily improve and leverage local SEO without killing your budget.
3. It’s Never Been Easier to Manage Basic Business Operations – All Hail the Apps
As your business grows, you’ll likely need to increase your staffing efforts, particularly when it comes to departments and initiatives that rely on a specific skill set – like marketing and accounting – but if you’re fairly new to the game or don’t have advanced needs, you’re in luck.
Today’s business owners have access to thousands of apps that make their everyday life easier. From automating payroll to executing your social strategy, there’s “an app for that,” and many of them are free or low cost, especially for beginner users.
Plus, since we know that small businesses have the best chance at offering a personalized customer experience, it’s worth mentioning that there are even tools that can help you strengthen the bond between you and your customers.
4. Remote Work Is Booming & Small Businesses are Benefiting
For some small businesses, remote workers are out of the question. After all, how could a skilled barista in Austin, TX serve up a piping hot, perfectly poured Latte in Philadelphia, PA. But, for small businesses that aren’t limited to real-time, on-premise interactions, advancements in remote work can have real potential.
According to a report by FlexJobs, over 3.9 million Americans worked from home at least part-time, as it’s expected that the number will continue to grow.
Why is this good for you? For one, the opportunity, even if it’s occasional, can increase employee satisfaction as well as cut back on some costs. Beyond that, however, the remote workforce can also put you, your employees, and your clients in touch with highly skilled or niche professionals that may not otherwise be available in your immediate area, even if it’s just for consulting purposes.
5. Small Business Lending is Thriving, and so are Your Borrowing Options
Though there are some concerns about the future of the economy, that has not stopped small business owners from enjoying a relatively strong period of funding.
As of January 2019, small business loan approvals from traditional, big banks held strong at a 27 percent – a record high that hasn’t been seen since the Great Recession. And while big banks and the SBA certainly have made this a friendly climate for small business owners seeking loans, they certainly aren’t the only contributing factor.
The rise of online lending, also referred to as fintech lending, has also made it easier for small business owners to access the funds they need, and perhaps more importantly, when they need them. The qualifications and funding time frames vary from lender to lender, many of today’s fintech companies have less stringent eligibility requirements and can originate funds as soon as the same business day.
This article was originally written on March 5, 2019 and updated on February 1, 2021.