11 Key Lessons for SMB Owners and Founders
We believe in independent businesses. And we think they should thrive (in fact, that’s why we created Pio). As the world of ecommerce drives relentlessly forward, the challenges for SMBs rise. How can smaller businesses keep up with the giants, who have every resource at their disposal?
But though keeping up is important, there are other metrics of success that help SMBs stand out in the ecommerce landscape. A vibrant community, a distinct point of view, a robust brand culture…these are a few ways that smaller businesses beat out the Amazons. And by combining these elements with a strong playbook for success, SMBs can achieve longevity and growth even amidst a competitive market.
Read on for a few lessons and tips we’ve gleaned along our collaborations with bold, dedicated SMB founders and owners.
1. Seek feedback constantly.
Whether it’s feedback from your customers or your team, different perspectives will help you grow. Try to learn as much as possible about how you’re doing, and what you can improve. Get takes from a wide range of people–the more diversity of background, the more holistic and complete view you’ll have of your business.
2. Leverage connections.
Networking can make all the difference in helping a business sink or swim. Making connections opens doors, and creates a framework of support from peers, friends, and colleagues. You never know what can arise from an unexpected connection, such as exciting collaborations and partnerships that help your business expand.
3. Keep yourself accountable.
Stay on top of your goals by keeping yourself honest. Carve out time to assess how well you’ve been tracking your actions to your objectives. Having a greater plan is imperative in driving consistent progress, even through challenges.
4. Stay agile and open to change.
As a small business owner, your life will be full of surprises, both good and bad. Unexpected challenges and changes in the world will keep you on your toes, so stay light on your feet, ready to adapt to any situation. When things change fast, the ones ready to evolve are the ones who will survive.
5. Know your bottom line.
A more practical piece of advice doesn’t exist. To keep your business sustainable, you need a thorough understanding of your total costs, revenue, and profit. If you’re fuzzy on your numbers, odds are you’re mismanaging your resources. Knowledge is power, and the more oversight and control you have over your numbers, the more freedom you’ll have to make the best decisions for your business.
6. Share ideas—no gatekeeping.
A rising tide lifts all boats. Be generous with your ideas, and you’ll find that a loyal community will naturally form around you and your business. This also establishes your brand as a leader in its space, which fosters a deeper sense of support and greater impact in the lives of your customers and your peers.
7. Support your team.
Though at times you may want to, it’s impossible for you to do everything yourself. Assemble a team you can trust, and then set them up with the support and resources that they need to do their job well. Nothing great is done alone, and having good people behind your mission will not only enrich your business, but also enrich your life with meaningful human connection.
8. Keep your eyes fixed on what matters.
When competition is stiff, it’s easy to get distracted by what others are doing. But instead, stay focused. Avoid becoming overwhelmed by all of the possibilities for where you can take your business, based on the competition. By keeping your sights fixed on the work to be done, and aiming towards smaller, measurable goals, you keep your energy going where it needs to go.
9. Invest in tech.
Dare to be an early adopter of pioneering tech. It helps you get ahead, and stay ahead, and can be a game-changer in positioning your business for growth. Look for cutting-edge innovations that help you work smarter, not harder. Think of technology as a long-term investment for your business. Seek solutions that offer a strong return on investment, and that can actually save you resources in the long run.
10. Be persistent.
Starting and running your own business is hard. There are times when you’ll feel overwhelmed. You might find yourself wanting to give up. But keep your head up, and hold onto a belief in yourself. Every failure is a lesson learned. Every “no” simply stands for the “next opportunity.” Persistence is the most important quality that will help your business rise above challenges and into long term success.
11. Rest when you need it.
Burnout is real. To prevent it, remember to take rest. Balance is a requirement for sustainability, and you’ll need it in order to keep a healthy relationship with your business, and your energy high for years to come.
We hope these 11 tips have helped or inspired you along your entrepreneurial journey. No matter where you are in the adventure, there’s always more to learn. So remember to stay curious, open to learning, and ready to improve—and strap yourself in for a ride with highs and lows unlike any other.