How to Increase the Competitive Advantage of Your Small to Midsize Business
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses worldwide, but the turmoil looks to be ending soon. As governments pull back restrictions and reopen the economy, companies must use this window of opportunity to jump ahead of the competition.
Here are five ways to increase the competitive advantage of your small to midsize business.
Optimize Hybrid Schedules
While the restrictions might have loosened, the coronavirus isn’t going anywhere. You must foster a healthy work environment and continue to optimize your hybrid schedules so employees can work in-office or remotely as needed. Even after we’ve recovered from COVID-19, hybrid schedules might become the new standard. They give more flexibility to workers and help save office resources.
Start by getting input from your employees through one-on-one discussions and online surveys. Ask what they like and dislike about your current hybrid format. Let them voice their opinions and offer suggestions.
You should also gather information about other businesses’ hybrid work models, both big and small. Find any data that can help you make informed decisions for your business.
Separate office-friendly tasks and remote-friendly tasks into different categories. You can also establish a rotating schedule to give employees enough face time with each other and ensure no one gets left out. Implement these small changes, evaluate their success and adjust your plans accordingly.
Revamp Your Recruitment and Onboarding Processes
One of the most significant economic consequences of COVID-19 has been the “Great Resignation,” a mass exodus of employees from jobs with poor work conditions or wages that could not keep up with inflation. You can bring some of these experienced workers onto your team and take a significant step ahead of your competitors.
However, that’s easier said than done. Workers have all the bargaining power, so you must revamp your recruitment and onboarding processes to meet their needs. Here are a few things you can do:
- Update the Careers page on your company website.
- Rewrite job descriptions on job boards to focus on benefits and work environment.
- Shorten the application and interview processes.
- Consider more candidate sources, including young and inexperienced workers. They’re often the most eager to prove themselves.
You should also devote more time and resources to the onboarding process for new employees. Allow them to build good habits and relationships before they fully jump into their work schedules. Keep things personal, include many interactive features and help them lay the foundations for future success.
Establish Family-Oriented Values
COVID-19 has reminded us that there’s more to life than work. Our loved ones will always be the top priority. With that in mind, you should aim to establish family-oriented values in the workplace and while interacting with clients.
You can demonstrate these values to employees by organizing company events, periodic meet-and-greets and other team-building activities. Allow them to develop their chemistry and become friends instead of just coworkers.
Similarly, you should treat your clients and business partners as friends. Connect with other small businesses in your area (except for competitors, of course) to trade advice, develop products and host community events.
Business is not as cutthroat as it used to be. Establish human connections with others, and they will help your business grow.
Personalize the Customer Experience
The first three points focus on fostering a productive work environment and creating relationships inside and outside the workplace. These inward efforts should coincide with your outward efforts to connect with customers through marketing, advertising and other promotional tools.
Your marketing efforts should utilize all available channels to increase your brand awareness, no matter how unfamiliar you are with them. Use the process of market segmentation to find your target audience and the media channels they like to use. A younger audience might prefer Twitter and TikTok, while an older base might respond more favorably to email campaigns and Facebook posts.
In any case, mix in a little bit of everything to get as many eyes on your business and product as possible. All of your marketing efforts should direct customers to your main website through links and interactive features, such as forms and questionnaires. Don’t just give them a sales pitch—get them involved with fun and informative content.
You should also use promotional devices to incentivize customers to return to your business. Gift cards, loyalty programs and other incentives will help you establish a faithful customer base.
Invest in Cloud Technology
It’s challenging to stay organized while trying to expand. Using a digital platform like Microsoft Office or Google Drive will put all your information in one easily accessible place. You and your employees can collaborate from anywhere and communicate with ease. Plus, nothing gets lost or deleted if a technical problem occurs. It all stays in the same cloud, and you can access it from another device.
You can also use cloud-based management software to streamline your day-to-day operations. Employees can track their progress, meet deadlines and deliver results more efficiently. Cloud technology is all about simplifying your digital space so you can focus on the real-world business elements that we’ve discussed, like the work environment and customer experience.
Think Like a Big Business
If you want to become a big business, you need to think like a big business. All successful companies have two things in common besides profitability: a satisfied workforce and a loyal customer base.
To make your employees happy, you must create a flexible schedule and a family-oriented culture. To build a customer base, you must get involved in your community and use a variety of communication channels and promotional tools to personalize the customer experience.
Growing a brand is a lot of work, so you also need the right technology to manage day-to-day and big-picture operations. Cloud-based technology has you covered. To increase the competitive advantage of your small business, you must prioritize your people and give them the tools to succeed.