SMB owners are always looking for low hanging fruit ways to beat the competition and increase their income. There’s one area that, as we provide our services as part time CFO for small businesses in Canada, we see is consistently overlooked.
One of the first things we do when we are engaged to provide our fractional CFO for SMB services, or simply to give financial advice to entrepreneurs, is review how they do business, their processes and disciplines. This enables us then to identify which data points tell the small business owner how her/his business is faring. These key measures are known in our world as Key Performance Indicators, or simply KPI’s.
A more detailed discussion of KPI’s in general is a topic of other articles, this one focuses on the results we are seeing from a category of these.
Unless the business is purely an online business, the KPI’s relating to the owner-managed enterprise’s online business activities consistently measure well below acceptable levels. This is understandable and expected. Outside of knowing that a website is required these days, the online world for most small business owners has evolved to a point where it is simply foreign and much too complex.
This fact creates a very significant low hanging fruit opportunity for increasing income for the savvy small business owner. All it takes from you is a recognition that, regardless of the size and type of your business, attention to enhanced key online activities can and will increase your income. Our favourite small business marketing professional, David Terry, of Terry Marketing calls it " turning your website into, then managing it as, a high performance sales rep". The Internet has become much much more than a place to house a business’ digital brochure that prospects and customers only find by happenstance.
Relevant Online Facts
80% of today’s business decisions are made only after some form of online research is completed. Almost if not all of this research includes some form of search-engine query activity. Failing to recognize this, puts any small business’ current level of income in jeopardy. For the savvy owner, being in the forefront of search results, with relevant positive information is a growth opportunity all on its own.
Other Web-Based Purchaser Interactions
A small business’ online world is more than online research. Tools and methodologies around those tools, like HubSpot, Bislr, or Infusionsoft have given life and business relevance to any small business’ website. It becomes an extension, and in some cases a replacement of any small business’ traditional ways of getting and doing business.
Social media, whether we like it or not, is here to stay as an integral component of any small business’ “web presence”. While the technologies behind social media is still evolving, the players are well formed, and search engines are including a small business’ social media presence in the ranking algorithms that effect whether that small business gets found in a search.
Coupled with this fact is that purchasers are now using social media to do more research on a business. So, again, like it or not, a small business needs to be active in social media.
I’ve written before that the Cloud is spawning a plethora of tools that enable business to get done online, creating much more opportunity for a small business to get and do business than simply employing Amazon.com ecommerce-type activities.
In conclusion, as acknowledgement that online business activities are now as much a part of daily life as traditional, one simple strategic decision by the owner of a small business – “To create and execute on an online strategy and business plan”, will bear fruit by increasing income without simply having to work harder and longer. Investment in tools and expertise is necessary but the return on that investment will be surprising.