The year 2016 is almost at an end. Plenty of positive strides in the world of growing a small business have been made throughout the year, and with New Year resolutions about to come up, I thought it was time to post a few considerations on how to grow a small business in these modern times.
Below I’ve gathered some of my personal favorite tips and observations over the past years time. While there’s been many other interesting developments, theories and practices put forward over the course of 2016, I believe these offer the most value to business owners.
- Minimum Viable Product has changed to Minimum Loveable Product
- Going viral is not as important as having a long-term marketing strategy
- Getting traffic, downloads or email subscriptions is far more important than designing a perfect looking website or mobile app
- Mobile and tablet users are now the dominant form of web users, and catering to them has become the new priority
- Content is still king, although it’s important to use content as part of an overall action-driving funnel, rather as the end and means both
The challenge of any aspiring business owner is not necessarily starting the business, but growing that business into a sustainable venture, and is the focus of most of the above points.
Regardless of your business model, be it an eCommerce store, paid mobile app, or something else, the following tips and tricks will help you get busy growing your business to new levels.
#1. Minimum Loveable Product
For the longest time, marketers and business developers have been talking about the minimum viable product, and how important it is to get something out there fast, since the real work begins once the product itself has to be promoted.
It’s a common rule of thumb that the development of the product, app or store should cost around 20% of your budget, and the remaining 80% should be spent on promoting that product, via marketing or other channels, depending on the particular product of course.
What has changed in the past couple of years, is that consumers have grown tired of weak products, and even great products have a harder time getting through to potential customers, with more and more people automatically filtering out any advertisement jargon.
#2. Viral content
Many business owners dream of creating a piece of content, whether it be a video, an article or infographic, that then goes viral on its own, and generates tons of revenue and traffic.
Sure, there are a few examples of that out there, but considering that BuzzSumo estimates more than 2 million blog posts are being published every single day, and the number of daily pieces of viral content can be counted on a single hand, don’t count on it.
In fact, when looking at traffic coming from when the content goes viral, sure it looks nice that thousands or hundreds of thousands of visitors drop by your site, but what then?
The majority of viral content provides a spike in traffic but then settles back to negligible numbers within a few days or weeks. That’s why having an overall long-term marketing strategy that functions in parallel with all other business development aspects is important.
Continually driving more traffic, generating more leads and promoting more content is a better way of ensuring a steady growth in traffic. Traffic that stays, traffic that multiplies over time.
That’s why traffic is one of the key factors for any small business owner looking to grow his or her venture. Traffic is not just the number of website visits a given page pulls, but also covers the number of people visiting your app in the app stores, as well the users digesting your content on their favorite social platform.
Driving targeted visitors is one of the most difficult, and most sought after aspects of any type of business out there, and for good reason.
Good traffic converts into sales and profits. Even bad traffic (meaning visitors with no intention of purchasing your products or services) can be good for testing metrics such as bounce rates and other important aspects.
So how do we go about attracting this traffic?
If there is one point on this list I advise you to truly understand and research more in depth, it’s how to attract quality traffic.
#4. Mobile users
A British study recently published, showed that UK children between the age of 3-15 are discarding computers, laptops, television and gaming consoles, all in favor of smartphones and tablets.
In fact, more than 65% of the children used their phones for tasks they would normally use a laptop or computer for, meaning that while the older generations still prefer large monitors, a keyboard and mouse for interacting, children are getting used to swiping and touch screens.
This also means that they are more likely to purchase stuff online via their mobiles, and in just a few years, this generation will become one of the dominant market purchasing groups out there.
Catering to the future generations can only be seen as a good form of long-term strategy, but even adults are moving away from computers and laptops, again favoring mobile phones and tablets, albeit at a lower rate than their young counterparts.
Probably the single most used phrase in the world of content marketing has to do with content being king.
For years and years it has stood as one of the pillars of growing any online presence; “Create quality content, and visitors will come.” Of course, it’s true. You need quality content.
But, that alone will not make your business grow overnight. You still need eyes on that awesome article you wrote, or video you created. You still need people talking about it on Facebook and Twitter.
And while you don’t need it to necessarily go viral, you still need some backlinks to the content, in order for it to rank well on search engines, or pass rank further down the line.
Quality content has long stood as the single most important factor out there for achieving online success, and while it’s still true to this day, there are other factors carrying too much impact to ignore altogether.
Promoting the content is now as important as the content itself, with more and more content out there, making it less likely each day that your content is the best out there, and with so many options that people can choose from, you need to make sure that it’s your content that are being seen and shared by the masses.
All of the above is my personal opinion, and therefore I welcome any and all criticism, constructive or otherwise, and I’ll respond to all comments to elaborate on any particular point should you wish.
Don’t spend unnecessary time fretting over details when launching your website, mobile app or other digital asset. These can be changed over time and are not set in stone. Instead, spend your time figuring out how to drive traffic to those assets.
Don’t design content based on the assumption that if it goes viral you can sit back and relax, build content based on the assumption that you will add one more traffic generating channel to your, hopefully, long list of channels.
Create awesome content, but spend as much time on promoting it as creating it, if not more.
Focus on driving quality traffic first and foremost, and figure out which content drives good traffic for your niche, and create even better content.
Ignoring mobile users have gone from being common practice, to uncommon, and lately outright bad business. The younger your target demographic is, the more important it is to cater to mobile users, a trend that’s not likely to change anytime soon looking at various statistics.
Image: Author’s Own