Running a small business can be difficult at the best of times, and your challenges may be even more significant if you are a member of an underrepresented community. Small and minority-owned businesses alike often struggle to compete with larger companies, or those whose leaders benefit from certain forms of social and economic privilege. However, there are specific advantages and opportunities that you may be eligible for as the leader of a small or minority-owned business as well. The trick is to find them and make good use of them.
More than 38% of the 28.8 million small businesses in the United States are owned by minorities, but only 33% of all small businesses manage to remain afloat for more than 10 years. That being the case, you’ll want to do everything in your power to ensure that your company doesn’t end up as an unfortunate statistic. The following five strategies can help you maximize your potential for growth and remain as competitive as any other company in your sphere. Pay close attention, and use these tips to your advantage:
Franchising can be a large responsibility, since you will have to oversee a network of franchisees and provide them with support. However, it can also provide you with the opportunity to grow quickly since franchising allows you to open additional locations quickly with minimal upfront costs. The key to successful franchising is to give your franchisees some control in the way they run each location. The more responsible each franchisee feels for their success, the harder they will likely work and the more secure your growth will be.
Take Advantage of Video
Social media has changed the relationship between advertisers and consumers significantly. Most consumers are losing their trust in conventional advertisements, unless those ads represent large brands they already know. As a result, small and minority owned businesses can benefit by making use of less conventional channels. Facebook live video is an excellent tool to use. Many small businesses (and even a few large chains like Dunkin Donuts) have gained record-high engagement levels by sharing live videos that show behind-the-scenes content in their facilities or answer frequently asked questions from their best customers.
Invest in Influence
As customers begin to avoid traditional advertisements, they’re gravitating towards influencers—prolific social media users who use their vast personal followings to promote content. Teenagers are especially likely to trust YouTube users and other influencers over standard ads, and more than half of millennials prefer influencers as well. If your business caters to a tech-savvy or digital native audience, influencers represent an important marketing avenue you probably shouldn’t ignore.
Boost Your Customer Service with Chatbots
A primary concern amongst consumers who use small businesses is that they cannot provide robust customer service. When your company has limited resources, that makes sense—how can you hire a team of people to monitor your phone lines constantly? With chatbots, you don’t have to. A single chatbot can help numerous customers at once, and never needs to take a break. If you want, you can even style your chatbot to represent specific demographics that you belong to.
Look for Unique Funding Opportunities
All the other tips on this list require a certain amount of investment capital, but finding that money can be difficult. Banks do not approve all small business loan applications—and in cases where the business is minority owned, there may be additional systemic challenges to overcome when finding a lender. For that reason, it pays to keep an eye out for financing opportunities that are specifically tailored for your demographic. Numerous such opportunities exist, and they can help you find the funding you need even when others won’t.
You have more control over the future of your business than you may think, even when opportunities seem scarce. Review the strategies listed above and use them to propel your company forward—you may find that they help turn you into one of tomorrow’s industry leaders!