Bestselling author, business coach, entrepreneur, and founder of SmallBizLadyUniversity.com, Melinda Emerson (AKA SmallBizLady) says it’s critical for small businesses to be authentic in-person and online. We asked her about how budding entrepreneurs can ensure their businesses reflect their values.
What is the top challenge facing small business owners today?
Access to capital is a huge concern, with only 5.2 million small businesses benefiting from PPP loans, the rest of the businesses who didn’t apply or qualify for benefits have been utilizing unemployment resources to sustain their households. With the pandemic effectively shutting down and crippling businesses in the United States over the last year, business owners are struggling to survive.
Many minority- and Black-owned businesses have already gone under. The first place people look to buy now is online; the businesses that are still alive are being forced to invest in their websites and online marketing. Many have had to pivot to find new revenue sources and business models. It’s a tough time.
What’s your advice to small businesses looking for their brand purpose?
For small businesses looking for brand purpose, it’s about reconnecting with your “why” story. As in, “Why did you start your business?” and “Why should you still be running it?” Perhaps it’s time to create a new mission. Have a vision for your business, one that is based on your best customers’ future needs, not their current ones.
What qualities do successful entrepreneurs have in common?
Successful entrepreneurs are visionary leaders. They have a defined brand, a specific niche customer, unique value proposition, and a strong presence online. Consequently, they have sales systems, follow-up systems, and they know how to draw their customers in and drive traffic to their website.
What role have you seen social media play in the success of small businesses today?
Digitizing your business and social media marketing are mandatory to be successful in business. Social media has become the No. 1 sales and marketing channel in the United States. No matter what you sell, you must be selling online. Your content strategy is tied to your social media marketing efforts.
Whether you sell B2C or B2B, you must post and share relevant content on social media sites. Learn to sell directly through social media platforms, buy ads on social sites and leverage video as a form of content. Finally, you must engage your target customers where they spend time on social media.