And in the blink of an eye, we’re in the second month of 2023. Now that you’ve had a few weeks to recover from the festive season, it’s time to put your Underdog takkies on and get ready to conquer the year ahead*. To help you do that, we’ve compiled a list of practical ways to level up your entrepreneurial game. *Eye of the Tiger optional
Ready to level up? Here are five ways to supercharge your business in 2023
1. Refine the processes and systems you rely on most
Time is your most valuable commodity. To ensure that you have as much of it on your hands as possible, reassess the processes and systems that form the lifeblood of your business. From supply chains and staff management to stock-taking and invoicing, there are pockets of time you can “steal” and put to work elsewhere.
Storytime: Many moons ago, I headed up daily operations for an online business that dispatched orders via courier. The products were fragile, which meant I spent an inordinate amount of time wrangling reams of bubble wrap. I spent so much time packing orders, that I was left with only a tiny sliver of time to do everything else. The result? Frustrated customers and a massive drop in sales. After some trial and error, I landed on a much faster way to prepare orders for delivery, freeing up time to focus on what really mattered: communicating with customers. (Shout out to YouTube for the tutorials).
In short, spending a little bit of time optimising the processes that form the backbone of your day-to-day business operations pays off big time, and might just be the tweak that takes your business from good to great.
2. Give your homepage a glow-up
Every single business – yup, every.single.one – needs a website. Whether you sell konfyt and biltong from a padstal on the R63 or design breathtaking indigenous gardens, potential customers who can’t find any sign of you on the www will choose the competitor who’s spent time building their web presence. (Pro tip: increase visibility and collect online reviews by creating a Google Business Profile)
You don’t need to fork out thousands to create and maintain a website, but you do need to ensure that you have the basics covered:
- Revisit and tweak your SEO to make sure that your website is as easy to find as possible
- Optimise your site for mobile.
- Buy your domain. (www.yourbusinesshere.co.za looks way more profesh compared to www.yourbusinesshere.DIY.hostingplatform.co.za)
Clicking through to multiple pages, wading through fonts last used in 1993, and waiting for data-chowing images to load is not a vibe. If your website doubles as an online store, it’s crucial that you learn and implement the basics of UX (User Experience). Schooling yourself on the way someone navigates your site is absolutely crucial if you want to garner sales and get customers through the golden gates marked “Checkout”. (More tips, here.)
3. Identify your best-performing social channel and throw all of your energy into growing it
Love it or hate it, the endless scroll is where consumers find, research, and connect with brands just like yours. But…and it’s a big one, far too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to be everything on all platforms, resulting in ill-thought-out posts that are either copied and pasted across multiple platforms or slapdash panic posts that aren’t of value to your audience. Mediocre content isn’t just boring to scroll through, it’s also a surefire way of turning potential customers off your brand. The secret to creating a social media presence that works for you? Finding the platform – Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn – that your customers spend the most time on. And then forget the rest (you have my permission).
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to engage your audience, but you do have to have some sort of content plan (even if it’s written on the back of a till slip).
Then, brainstorm content ideas using the following as cues:
- What is it that your customers love most about your product or service? (This could be tangible, like the fact that your ingredients are all locally sourced, or intangible, like the fact that you employ members of your community to make your products)
- What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?
- What is your why?
- What sort of content has historically garnered the most engagement?
Lastly, follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should be useful (i.e.: it should either entertain, educate, or provide a solution to a paint point), while the remaining 20% (and not a decimal point more) should comprise ‘sales-sy’ content.
4. Embrace in-app shopping
The easier it is for someone to buy something, the higher the likelihood that they will. Groundbreaking, I know. Today’s shoppers want what they want when they want it, so what better way to meet their demand for immediate gratification than letting them shop your products in the very app they spend their time using?
All of the major social media platforms (with the exception of LinkedIn) have a mCommerce offering:
- Instagram’s Shop feature (which will be replaced with something called Tab Light at the end of March) lets you tag products in your posts, enabling customers to buy them either directly from your Instagram Store or via your website.
- Meta’s equivalent is Facebook Shops, which is essentially a storefront for your Facebook Page (and a completely separate offering from Marketplace).
- TikTok Shop combines the best of Gen Z’s favourite app with the latest mCommerce features.
5. Reach out to underdogs who’re one step ahead of you
You know that one Mzansi woman, the one who built a nail art empire, one acrylic at a time? What about that dude from the business down the road, the one who seems to have a knack for drawing customers off the street (after they’ve just walked past your shop)? Or that varsity grad next door who’s just landed a dream collab with a household brand? My point is, whoever it is that you admire – for their tenacity, success, ingenuity, etc. – is the small business equivalent of Wikipedia. And nine times out of ten*, they’ll be more than willing to share their learnings. After all, they’ve been where you are, and know that rising as an underdog is that much easier when you’ve got the support of fellow entrepreneurs. Approaching a stranger – even if they’re someone you admire – is unnerving. But by putting yourself out there, you stand to gain a wealth of knowledge and sage advice, not to mention an invaluable network.
*This statistic is entirely fabricated and is intended to serve as a motivating factor, not as a data source.
We’d love to hear about what you’re doing to up the ante in 2023. Head over to our socials to share your tips on taking your business from good to great!