September 15, 2021
U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, United States
Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, CO—
Businesses must strive to better suit their customers' needs in a constantly changing world. As digital platforms and marketing strategies evolve, businesses of every size are finding new and innovative ways to adjust their efforts to withstand the test of time.
Along with pivoting their strategies, business owners have to find a solid foundation and follow a financial plan to adapt to new business models. In a recent CO— Roadmap for Rebuilding panel, Jeanette Mulvey, editor in chief of CO—, asked small business owners for their expert advice on authenticity, knowing your customers and the importance of certain financial metrics. Here's how they recommend building your business for the future.
Ensure Your Business Is Built on Authenticity
It’s important for entrepreneurs to have a clear vision of what makes their business stand out from its competition. Jordan Beilin, west division director of advanced advertising sales for Spectrum Reach, said the key to efficiently conveying a stand-out message lies in authenticity.
“One of the things we see now more than ever with the modern customer is that people want to understand the purpose behind the brand,” explained Beilin. “So brands really need to figure out: What is their long-term message? How do they stand on different issues?”
Businesses should then ensure their message is timeless and will stick with their customer no matter the season, Beilin continued.
“It's not just something that's a flash in the pan, but really authentic, sincere messaging that really addresses some of today's issues is super important to the modern customer,” he said.
Get to Know Your Customers
Customers are the key to a successful business. Business owners must anticipate their customers’ needs and work to find solutions that will keep them coming back. Omayya Harvey Atout, co-founder and CEO of Songlorious, put himself in his customers’ shoes and found a way to create a personalized solution for them.
“Songlorious is a website that anyone can go on,” he said. “[Users] type in some information and choose a genre, and one of our artists will create a song that's personalized to them.”
Atout and his team hypothesized which genres of music would be the most popular. For instance, the company considered making funny songs for customers who might want to send a comedic tune to their friends. However, by listening to his customers, he was able to provide a wider variety of genres they truly wanted.
“I’m sure those [comedic] customers are out there … but really what they started telling us is that they wanted more heartfelt love songs,” Atout said. “That's what the majority of our customers are looking for: love songs for their family members or their spouses. It was a big difference in what I thought because I was applying my own [ideas.] That's the beauty of testing and finding the right solution.”
Use Strategic Metrics to Measure Financial Success
Tour business’s cash flow and bank account activity are only a couple of crucial financial metrics to keep track of. Keila Hill-Trawick, founder and principal of Little Fish Accounting, emphasized that “one of the things that a lot of people end up missing is that if you're not tracking information … it's really hard to determine what metrics you need to be tracking going out.”
Hill-Trawick stressed that businesses should be tracking revenue trends, even if you’re not a seasonal business. This will also assist you in determining how long your business can be sustained without an income, she said.
“Once you start tracking what's coming in, you may notice that [you] can make sales year-round, but [your] income tends to dip in the summer and go up in the winter or vice versa,” Hill-Trawick explained. “You want to track that because it's really going to help you prepare to do all of the things that you do for the rest of the year.”
She also recommended tracking your operating profit margin, which is “your percentage of revenue that the profit makes up.”
“A lot of people get caught up in being profitable,” Hill-Trawick said. “You may be in a growth phase where you don't really expect to make a lot of profit as long as you can cover everything. Your operating profit margin target can really be an indicator based on where your business is at the moment.”
From the Series