One of the more important components of starting a successful small business is having a compelling idea that you’re ready to share with others. Having the right idea for your small business is only the beginning, though. Once you get past the brainstorming phase, it’s time to look at the nuts and bolts of what really makes a modern business succeed. Whether you’re just getting things off the ground, or you’d like to give your existing business a boost of new energy, make sure that you have these four modern business essentials.
1. A Company Blog and Social Presence
Having an online presence is a modern-day business necessity. In order to make your business’s website successful, you absolutely must have a company blog. This does not mean a blog where you publish inherently personal content. A company blog should be full of informative posts they are related to the services that your business offers.
A good blog serves two purposes. First, it inspires confidence in potential customers that you know what you’re talking about, and it confirms that your business is willing to reach out and educate consumers on its services. The second purpose is somewhat lesser known. When you write a company blog, you’re writing not only for your consumers but also for the bots that patrol the web and catalog pages. These bots work for search engines like Google, helping to create a database that informs search results.
Ultimately, a good company blog that follows webmaster guidelines should signal to Google and other search engines that your website is relevant to various keywords related to your services and that you are an authority on those subjects.
Business Social Media Profiles
A good company blog should be coupled with a social media strategy for your business. Strange as it may initially seem, social media is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reach potential customers. You can connect your social media to your blog to keep your followers updated on the latest posts and bring them from social media hubs onto your website.
It’s important to have a social media presence on at least Twitter and Facebook, the latter of which allows you to create a company page with business information like your address, hours, and services. On your social media platforms, be sure to engage with consumers politely and respectfully. Never lash out at people who leave negative reviews; instead, try to work with them to understand their negative experience with your business and figure out what you can do to correct it.
2. The Best Mobile Apps
Many people own a smartphone, and that group likely includes both you and your employees. By using apps specifically tailored to the needs of small businesses, you can keep your whole team connected and working together with more efficiently than ever. Here are some must-have apps for any small business:
- Dropbox: Dropbox is one of the original providers of cloud storage, both for individuals and businesses. Dropbox allows you to store files online and give access as you see fit. It enables your team to share and access documents instantly from anywhere that they may be working.
- MyGlue: If you have online subscriptions to tools and services that help you do business, then you’ve probably experienced password confusion before. Someone lost the password, someone else changed it, and so on. MyGlue solves all of these password problems by storing passwords safely and letting you determine who has access to what subscriptions and when.
- Twitter: If you’re waiting until you reach your computer to tweet about your business, then you’re always going to be too late. Keeping Twitter on your phone will allow you to tweet about your business as things are happening and respond to any news right away, making you more visible to your customers.
3. Business Security Solutions
As your business comes to rely more on digital tools and data, you will also be opening yourself up to new kinds of security breaches. Knowing what kind of threats are out there, and your options to handle them is critical for any modern business. Never assume that your business is safe because you’re too small for any hacker to be interested in. Research has shown that 43 percent of cyber attacks are targeted at small businesses.
The key to keeping your business information secure is twofold. First, you should only work with digital service providers that you can trust to be secure. Storing data in the cloud might not be right for every business, but if you are storing data in the cloud, ask your provider about their security measures before uploading sensitive information. Second, if you have important data on physical disks, keep those secure. Keeping them locked up in the office is one way, but break-ins happen all of the time. You can also store sensitive information in a secure storage unit for your business. Storage units have the benefit of limited access; only you and your most trusted partners can get in.
4. Additional, Flexible Storage Options
A storage unit isn’t just useful for security. You can also use it for stock management and as storage for your employees. In fact, there are some businesses that can be run out of a storage unit.
The net worth of your business is largely determined by your assets, so it’s critical that you keep stock of everything your business owns and you store it securely. Designate a specific area for assets (whether it’s onsite or in a storage unit) and run regular inventory checks to make sure that your business isn’t losing value without your knowledge. This is especially important if you’re holding seasonal assets as many nonprofits do with donations over the course of the year.
If you’re just starting to bring on employees for your small business, don’t let them be an afterthought. Even small gestures like designated employee storage space for coats, bags, and even bicycles can go a long way towards making them feel welcome and more invested in your business.
Link to "Is the Cloud Right for Your Business?" once published.