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Navigating 2024 Key Small Business Trends and Strategies

Navigating 2024: Key Small Business Trends and Strategies

Navigating 2024 Key Small Business Trends and Strategies

Article written by Sara Pantaleo

In the dynamic landscape of small and family businesses, staying ahead of trends is crucial for sustained success. As we move into 2024, Forbes highlights seven key trends that can significantly impact your business.

  1. Building Community: Fostering Local Growth
    • Community engagement is a powerful tool for small businesses. Businesses can create a supportive environment that fosters growth and customer loyalty by actively participating in and contributing to local communities.
  2. Customer Experience: Investing in Relationships
    • Investing in the customer experience is no longer an option but a necessity. Happy customers lead to repeat business. Prioritise managing customer relationships, ensuring a seamless and positive experience from start to finish.
  3. Personalisation: Tailoring the Client Experience
    • Make your clients feel cared for by personalising their experience. From the initial contact to the final transaction, a personalised touch can set your business apart and build lasting connections with your customers.
  4. Marketing – Incredibly Personal: Creating Memorable Experiences
    • Move away from the traditional “hard sell” approach. Focus on creating memorable customer experiences that forge a mutual connection between your business and your clientele.
  5. Finances – Growth and Sustainability
    • Accessing finance and sustainable growth are fundamental for small businesses. Ensure your financial stability and explore avenues for responsible expansion.
  6. Weathering a Possible Recession: Preparedness is Key
    • Be prepared for economic uncertainties by streamlining operations, leveraging technology, and having a plan in place to run your business efficiently with fewer resources. Secure funding for future projects and ensure financial resilience.
  7. Franchising is Hot: Meeting Changing Work Needs
    • Home-based franchise concepts are gaining popularity as people seek more control over their work-life balance. Consider ventures in food, fitness, and services catering to the senior population.

Embracing Sustainability in 2024

In the face of climate change concerns, businesses must address their environmental impact. Small businesses can take the lead by implementing sustainable practices, setting them apart in a competitive market.

Technology and AI: Cybersecurity is Non-Negotiable

As businesses increasingly rely on technology and AI, having a robust cybersecurity contingency plan is essential. Protect your business from sophisticated cyber threats and ensure continuity in facing unforeseen challenges.

Prioritising Resilience: The Need for Business Continuity Plans

Flexibility and adaptability are crucial for small businesses. Develop a business continuity plan that enables you to conduct operations from anywhere, ensuring resilience in the face of unexpected events.

Preparing for Natural Disasters: A Call to Action

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) emphasises the importance of disaster preparation. Shockingly, only one in four small businesses has a plan in place. Be proactive, create a disaster preparation plan, and fortify your business against unexpected events.

Let Us Assist You in Business Continuity Planning

For those looking to have a sustainable business plan and create a robust business continuity plan, we are here to help. Reach out to us to ensure your business is ready to face any challenges that may come its way in 2024 and beyond. Ask us how we can assist you in crafting a comprehensive plan for success.

Start now

Ref: Read Forbes’s full article here.  ASBFEO Media release here.

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How to Market Your Small Business Online

Author: Sara Pantaleo

In today’s digital age, online marketing is an essential strategy for small businesses to thrive and grow. With the vast reach of the internet, you have the potential to connect with a global audience, attract new customers, and build a strong online presence. However, effective online marketing requires a well-thought-out strategy. This article will guide you through the steps to market your small business online successfully.

1.      Define Your Brand Identity

Defining your brand identity is essential to establishing who you are as a business. It encompasses your core values, mission, personality, and the unique attributes that set you apart from competitors. Your brand identity is the foundation upon which you build trust and loyalty with your audience. It should be consistent across all your marketing materials, from your logo and visuals to your tone of voice and messaging. In a nutshell, it’s about creating a distinct and memorable impression that resonates with your customers, making your brand instantly recognisable and relatable.

2.      Marketing Goals

Before you dive into online marketing, it’s crucial to define your marketing goals. What do you want to achieve? Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, generating leads, boosting sales, or all of the above, having clear objectives will guide your efforts.

3.      Know Your Customers (Target Audience)

Understanding your customers is critical to tailoring your online marketing efforts. Create detailed buyer personas, including demographics, interests, and pain points, to ensure your content and advertising resonate with your ideal customers.

4.      Create an Engaging Website with SEO

Your website is the digital face of your business. It should be user-friendly, visually appealing, and provide valuable information. Ensure your website is mobile-responsive and optimised for search engines (SEO) to rank higher on search results pages. You also need to implement Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is essential for improving your website’s visibility on search engines like Google. Use relevant keywords, meta descriptions, and high-quality content to enhance your website’s ranking. Regularly update your content to keep it fresh and valuable to visitors.

5.      Leverage Content Marketing

Create high-quality, relevant, and engaging content that addresses your customers’ needs. Content can take various forms, including blog posts, videos, infographics, and podcasts. Sharing valuable content helps build trust and authority within your industry.

6.      Utilise Social Media

Social media platforms offer an excellent opportunity to connect with your audience. Choose the platforms that align with your customer’s preferences and create a consistent posting schedule. Engage with your followers, share informative content, and run targeted ads to increase your reach.

7.      Email Marketing:

Build an email list and send personalised, valuable content to your subscribers. Email marketing is an effective way to nurture leads and inform your customers about your products, services, and promotions.

8.      Paid Advertising

Online advertising, such as Google Ads and social media ads, can help you reach a broader audience quickly. Develop targeted ad campaigns based on your budget, objectives, and audience segmentation.

9.      Online Reputation Management

Monitor online reviews, respond to customer feedback, and maintain a positive online reputation. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and address any negative comments professionally and promptly.

10. Analyse and Adapt

Regularly analyse your online marketing efforts using tools like Google Analytics and social media insights. Adjust your strategy based on the data, and continuously optimise your campaigns for better results.

11. Stay Informed and Evolve

The digital landscape is ever-changing. Keep up with the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in online marketing to stay competitive.

Marketing your small business online is a dynamic process that requires careful planning, consistent effort, and adaptation to the ever-evolving digital environment. By having a distinct brand identity, defining clear goals, understanding your customers, and implementing a well-rounded strategy, you can successfully build a solid online presence and achieve your business objectives. Remember, online marketing is an investment that can yield significant returns when done effectively. 

If you want to learn how to achieve this for your small business, contact me for a no-obligation chat.

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Why Business Vision is Important

Article by: Sara Pantaleo

Do you have a crystal clear mental image of what you want to be like in five years’ time? This vision can stop you from heading off course.

The best way to come up with your vision, I’ve found, is by creating an image in my head that depicts what success looks like at this point or somewhere down the line when these goals are accomplished! However, we need to be able to formalise and communicate our vision; this is crucial for the success of any company.

A good way to formalise it, which also helps you communicate more effectively with co-workers or clients alike, would be through writing down what this entails in terms of how best your company can achieve their goals in making an impact within said industry/field goes.

Setting a vision is the first step to creating something great. It means we are passionate and have dreams for where we want to end up! Having this larger-than mini goal clarifies everything that needs doing right now so you can get on board with achieving them all at once instead of spreading yourself thin over many different tasks/projects, which ends up giving less impressive results because there isn’t enough time spent working towards your ultimate objective.

What is the Business Vision?  

It is often confused with a mission statement. The difference between a vision and a mission statement is that the former looks towards what you want to achieve in future, whereas the latter focuses on current activities. Vision provides a sense of purpose and direction for your business. “Your” vision will help you define short-term and long-term goals. It can also guide decisions that are made along the way. A company’s vision must align with its mission, strategic planning, culture, and core values. A vision statement is not necessarily set in stone; it can be returned to and changed as the business evolves over time.

Passion

How to Define Your Vision?     

Now that we’ve established what a vision statement is, here are some steps to use when defining yours:

  • Be specific. It needs to be detailed yet easily understood by everyone. It should clearly spell out the future direction.
  • Make it challenging. Your vision statement should create excitement and inspire. You want it to be ambitious and motivating.
Do Something Great

Why vision is crucial

A vision statement provides a focal point for goals, culture and everything else. Most importantly, a company’s clear vision can unify employees and create more profound meaning for their work. Not only does this bring people together, but it also helps them achieve success as they are all contributing towards achieving shared goals. And if tough times arise, it provides the motivation and drive to persevere through those challenges. A vision is designed to inspire and align.

We can help you articulate your business vision.

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Triple Bottom Line Blog Affari SP

What is Triple Bottom Line

The article was written by Sara Pantaleo.

What Is the Triple Bottom Line?

The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is a way of measuring an organisation’s impact on its social and environmental effects in addition to financial performance.

Purpose-led organisations find that using triple bottom line to monitor more than just the financial performance helps them improve how they treat people both within and outside the organisation and reduce their adverse impact on the environment.

John Elkington first explained the triple bottom line in his 1999 book, “Cannibals With Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business.” It’s a bottom line that continues to measure profits, but also measures the organisation’s impact on people and the planet”.

The triple bottom line expresses an organisation’s impact and sustainability on both a local and a global scale.

The concept behind the triple bottom line is that organisations are responsible first and foremost to all their stakeholders, including everyone involved with the organisation, whether directly or indirectly, and the planet we’re all living on.

The standard bottom-line infrastructure is based on profitability. However, the triple bottom line includes social, environmental and economic impacts that might affect an organisation instead of using profit and economics as the driving force.

The shareholders are part of the stakeholder group, but not the only factor.

So, some critical trends support the need for organisations to be more socially aware and responsible:

  • Organisation’s imperative for success in hiring, motivating and retaining good people. At the extreme, think of leading sports teams or media organisations, in which the people earning big money are the stars, not the shareholders. These organisations need to be focused on their people.
  • Good people are in short supply. Baby Boomers are moving out of the workplace into retirement, and there are fewer people in the following generations.  The impact of COVID19 border restrictions has escalated this problem further.  Organisations that don’t look after their workforces will quickly find they can’t attract and retain the right people they need.
  • While earlier generations may have tolerated impoverished conditions at work, people in the new generations are likely to be looking for more meaning. Unless they find this meaning, they’ll move on.
  • Consumers and potential recruits have many more choices than they had in the past and are more aware of large companies’ ethical and environmental stance—some base their purchase and career decisions on these things.

Triple bottom line is also expressed as “People, Planet, Profit.”

People, Planet, Profit

The Three Ps of the Triple Bottom Line

People, Planet and Profit

People

Organisations fostering the triple bottom line way of doing business think about their actions on all the people involved. This can include everybody from farmers supplying raw materials, customers, employees and up to the CEO of the business. Every one’s well-being is taken into consideration. The organisation offers a flexible working environment, reasonable working hours, foster diversity and inclusion, a healthy, safe workplace, and opportunities for advancement and education. It does not exploit their labour force (using child labour or offering sweatshop wages).

In some cases, the “people” bottom line can also include the company’s community.

While the people’s bottom line concept is undoubtedly attractive, the difficulty comes in deciding how far you go. Do you apply it to employees? Their families? Suppliers?

Planet

Triple bottom line organisations focus on reducing or eliminating their ecological footprint. They strive for sustainability, recognising that “going green” may be more profitable in the long run. But it’s not just about the money.

Triple bottom line organisations look at the entire life cycle of their actions and determine the actual cost of what they’re doing regarding the environment. As a result, they ensure they reduce their energy usage, dispose of any toxic waste safely, use renewable energy sources, and don’t produce unsafe or unhealthy products for people and the planet.

Profit

The financial bottom line is the one that all organisations share, whether they’re using the triple bottom line or not. When looking at profit from a triple bottom line standpoint, the idea is that profits will help empower and sustain the community as a whole and not just flow to shareholders.

People – How an organisation engages and develops its employees and its impact on people.

  • For example, how do the mines in Western Australia affect the surrounding communities and the benefit the organisation offers employees.

Planet is related to the environmental footprint of the organisation.

  • Such as energy use or waste footprint.

Profit is the standard method of measuring profit and loss in accounting principles.

The Triple Bottom Line in Practice

While you may or may not consider the Triple Bottom Line appropriate for your business, it makes sense to recognise how the workplace is changing and consider whether you need to adapt your approach to business to reflect this.

If you decide to explore the concept further, start by researching what other companies are doing to change the way they do business positively. Looking at the steps they’ve taken will save you time brainstorming on ways to improve your own business. Some examples from different industries include:

  • An international shipment and packaging company has reduced its ecological footprint by having 30 per cent of its stores use renewable energy.
  • A food business sets goals to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 10 per cent over the next few years. Investigate using more environmentally friendly ways to package products and set targets to reduce waste.
  • A coffee company only buys its beans from farmers who grow coffee environmentally friendly and ensures that all its workers are treated fairly and receive a living wage for their skills.
  • A computer company focuses a lot of its community efforts on training and education programs. It helps underprivileged kids by giving them access to technology and has goals to recycle a percentage of its annual waste.

By taking the time to start using the triple bottom line approach, you might be surprised at just how positive the reaction will be from your colleagues and your customers.

Triple Bottom Line

What can you do for your business to work towards a TBL model?

The Triple Bottom Line is essentially a reporting system. But, in itself, it doesn’t improve the company’s impact on people or the environment any more than the action of producing a set of management accounts would affect profits.

However, it can drive improvements in how an organisation impacts people and the environment by helping leaders focus on what they need to do to improve all of the bottom lines and keeping this work high on their agendas.

The B-Corp certification is an excellent way for a larger organisation to ensure you’re incorporating people, plane, profit into your business.  The impact assessment and getting certified hold you to a standard of TBL verified by the B-Corp framework.

If you are a small business, don’t try to do it all at once. Instead, pick one or two initiatives, execute them well, and create a TBL mindset from leadership to all stakeholders.  For instance, try to reduce waste and introduce environmental measures like saving energy or offsetting carbon emissions if you are a trucking business.

Some tangible initiatives you can implement:

PEOPLE

 

  • Diversity and inclusion policies
  • Flexible working environment
  • Employee surveys
  • Employee reward and recognition programs
  • Employee personal development plans
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
PLANET

 

PROFIT

 

Your Organisation’s Community Impact

Your profits shouldn’t come at the expense of people and the planet.

Imagine working every day for an organisation you are genuinely excited about and proud to be a part of.

Sure, the pay is decent, and there’s childcare, but those aren’t the only reasons why you love working there.

You’re proud to be a part of this organisation because they’re honourable.

They stand out from the typical “cut-throat” business world by the way they treat suppliers, the community, their commitment to environmental sustainability, their ethical investments, and their desire to empower and promote their team members instead of dragging them down.

There is a constant air of excitement and possibility, and you love coming to work each day.

Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is not at profit’s expense, but more to incorporate other measures into an organisational health profile.  Businesses must be financially healthy and prosperous for People and Planet to thrive.

All three must work in unison to fulfil its Triple Bottom Line goal.

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why small business fail

Why Small Businesses Fail


Studies have shown a high percentage of small businesses fail in their first year and up to 50% by year five.  70% of small businesses don’t make it past ten years.

Some Reasons why small businesses fail

1) Lack of leadership – No vision and purpose

Setting a clear vision and purpose gives you a guiding light and clear road from who you are and where you want to go.

When you don’t have a clear vision, creating the path to success is challenging, like not having a rudder.

2) Market research and niche –  do not know who the ideal client is

Not knowing who your ideal client means that you will try to attract and serve everyone.  This is like using a fishing rod to catch a shark, and you will not catch anything.  The clearer you are about your ideal client, the higher the chance of reaching the people you want to serve.

3) Poor management and planning

Setting clear strategic goals and business plans aligned with your vision will ensure you can develop precise financial forecasts around your ideal client.

Your plan sets out where you are, where you want to go and how to get there.  Ensure your goal is realistic and executable with the resources you have.

small business failure

4) Marketing

You need a clear marketing plan identifying how you are going to attract your prospective client. You should also have a marketing budget and track the return on investment for each channel to know what is working and what is not.

5) Lack of making decisions or no action

You have to get things done. But, don’t get so caught up in the process and become unable to make decisions.

Anything that prevents you from executing will lead to failure. At some point, you have to decide and move on. It’s better to make a decision and not get it perfect than not acting.

6) No commitment to innovation and continuous development

Successful business owners are constantly looking for new and better ways to serve clients and develop new opportunities.

They research and become aware of the latest trends. As a result, they are continuously innovating and finding new ways to be more efficient and increase productivity and stay abreast of changing consumer behaviour in their industry.

7) Knowing how to sell and follow-up

Lack of follow-up is a definite way to lose clients and not get referred to new ones.

Have a clear process on how you will be attracting new clients and the following up—making phone calls, responding to e-mails, or delivering a product or service.

Make sure that you track that you are delivering on time. Creating long-term customer relationships and building trust comes with knowing when to follow up.

 

why mall business fail

8) Poor governance and consistency

Setting up structure, systems and processes, areas of accountability are critical to achieving your strategic goals.  Some of the governance in business is to comply with laws in your industry, but small businesses in a partnership should consider strong shareholders agreements. If in a family business, a family business charter.  Other considerations are separation of duties and authority to mitigate risks and being prepared—good crisis planning to anticipate the impact of external factors, such as regulations or global trends.

Consistency is also essential. Many years ago, I learned that giving an excellent experience sometimes and a poor one sometimes creates doubt in the customers’ minds.  So, it is better to provide a great experience all the time and commit to consistency.

It takes time to attract and nurture customers to build your business. So, it is best if you were committed to tracking and acting consistently to deliver the experience that will make and keep customers.

9) Do not understand or track financial performance

Setting budgets, cashflow forecasts and financial metrics and measuring your performance is vital to know where you are so that you can make solid and informed business decisions

A small business must set sales targets and understand the reasons when you do not achieve them.

As well as revenue and profit, you should know what is happening to cash flow and forecast according to peaks and trough cycles and understand the gap between paying suppliers and receiving funds from your customers.

Other critical financial metrics are the cost of goods, employee costs, operational expenses, debtor payment days and creditor payment days.

You must work with your accountant to set these up correctly and be consistent on how and when you measure so that you can see trends developing and you can act quickly.

small business success

How can small businesses succeed

So, success in small business is not by accident, but it is by planning and design. If you are starting, ensure that you do your research, plan, set your financial and non-financial goals and what success looks like if you achieve them.  Start with good governance from the beginning.

So, if you are a successful small business, make sure you celebrate your successes and review your strategy, vision and purpose regularly to check that it resonates with the right here and now and into the future.

At the moment, one of the most significant focuses in society is climate change.  Will your small business be ready?  What research and analysis have you made in your business to ensure that you are planning for the future changes that deal with the impact of climate?

Showing leadership, setting a clear vision and strategy, strong governance and tracking performance, taking action and executing leads to small business success.  The key is not to stand still and continuously evolve in line with your business growth to meet your customer’s needs of the day.

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