How to Overcome the Top 5 Online Challenges Small Businesses Face

If you’re a small business owner, you want to get more business. The old-school Word of Mouth approach isn’t cutting it anymore. Your business may not be struggling, but it’s not growing, as much as you would like. This may seem like an impossible problem to solve in today’s digital world, it isn’t. There are five powerful steps you can take to see fast results. 

Challenge #1: Improve Your Business Online Presence

One of the first steps you must take is to create a Google My Business (GMB) account. To sign up for Google My Business, you need to create a Google account. If you already have a Google account, log in at https://www.google.com/business/

Once you’re logged in, you’ll need to set up your GMB account. If you need help, check out my new tutorial here

There are a few important things to keep in mind when you set up your GMB account:

  • Use your full business name
  • Provide typo-free, accurate information about your business
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Email
    • Website URL
    • Business Hours
  • Business type

GMB Categories

To get the most reach in your local area, it’s important to choose a primary business category that most accurately conveys what your business does. Your GMB profile is the key to gaining increased visibility in Google search results. 

If you focus on getting your GMB right and utilize it to its fullest, you’ll be way ahead of your competition. 

Challenge #2: Get More Online Reviews

93% of potential customers look at online reviews before making a purchase, according to the XM blog at Qualtrics, an agency that specializes in customer experience design and customer experience improvement. 

To increase customer activity, you need reviews that are: 

  • High-quality (4 stars and above)
  • Recent (2 weeks old and no more than 30 days old max)
  • Posted to the right platforms and channels for greatest impact

The platforms you should get reviews on include: 

  • Google 
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

There are dozens of other platforms that also allow reviews, but they are more specific. If you’re a general contractor or home remodeling business, Houzz is a place to be listed and get reviews. If you’re a plumber, carpenter, or electrician, you should be on Angi (formerly Angie’s List). For restaurants, Yelp is critical. Are you a dentist? Then Healthgrades is where you should be listed for reviews. 

There are thousands of directories that you can list your business in, but only a few that are for the type of business you have. Get listed in those directories and start gathering reviews through them. 

Getting listed in the right directories to get reviews is great, you think, but when do I get the reviews themselves? 

The best time to get reviews is after a customer has experienced your service. 

Ok, but how do I get them? 

You can get reviews from your customers in a variety of ways. Here are the most common ways this is done: 

  • Get a review when they make the final payment for a completed project. 
  • Call the customer and ask about their experience with your service
  • Email your customer and ask them to write a review

You can use any or all of these to get reviews from your customers. The important thing is that you get a review from every customer. This can’t be overstated. 

It may be a bit uncomfortable to ask your customers for reviews, but it’s an important part of increasing your online visibility and reputation. Otherwise, you may find that most of your reviews are from dissatisfied customers who are looking for a place to vent their frustrations. You will never eliminate bad reviews. However, you can reduce their impact with hundreds, even thousands of positive reviews from customers who are happy with how you perform the services they purchase. 

Challenge #3: Manage Your Reviews

Business owners often start out doing this only to abandon the effort after they get a handful of glowing reviews because they don’t have time to deal with managing them. How much time have you spent managing your business reviews? How much is your time worth per hour? If you spend 4 hours a week managing reviews and your time is worth $200 per hour, you’re spending $800 a week to manage your reviews. That’s about $3,200/month for reviews management! That’s far more than many agencies charge for reviews management services. 

Challenge #4: Build a Leads List

One of the most difficult things to do is build your own leads list. You’re an expert at what you do, not generating leads. It takes time and effort to build up a leads list that you can go to time and again with offers for your services. While not difficult, it does take consistent effort over time to build your list. Here are the steps to build your list:

  1. Define your target market/audience by asking some key questions about who they are: 
    1. What job titles and roles do they have? 
    2. How old are they?
    3. What is their annual income? 
    4. Where do they go to find the information then need? 
    5. What are the biggest challenges they face? 
    6. What problems are they seeking to solve? 
    7. What are their desires? What motivates them to do what they do? What’s the fundamental goal behind what they desire?
  2. Find out where the hang out online
    1. Facebook
    2. Instagram
    3. LinkedIn
    4. Pinterest
    5. Reddit
    6. Discord
    7. Quora
    8. …etc
  3. Become a member of your local chamber of commerce and other organizations that server your target market
  4. Network — Talk with people at local events and begin building relationships within your community
  5. Conduct workshops and webinars that give high value to your attendees and have them opt-in at signup so you have them on your list
  6. Interact with and engage your target market, both online and at physical events. 
  7. Attend conferences and trade shows for your target audience
  8. Get emails from everyone you meet!

Challenge #5: Offer New Products and Services to Your Existing Customers

One of the best ways to increase your revenue is to sell new products and services to your existing customers. Maybe you have a heating and cooling business but struggle to get new customers. You could offer a heating and cooling maintenance service for a one-time fee plus a monthly recurring fee that covers things like free filter replacement, keeping the condensate tray and drain line clean and free from slime, and making sure that the furnace fires up and operates like it should. If you’re a pool service, you might offer a recurring service, only tailored to pool cleaning and maintenance. The key is to find ways to offer the services you already offer to your customers in a way that delivers value and drives increased revenue for your business. This is only one of many ways you can do this. To find out what other businesses like yours are doing, find two or three businesses like yours that are in a completely different area and visit their websites. See what kinds of services they offer and how those services are packaged. Reach out to them via email and ask them about their service packages and how they deliver them. If you’re a few hundred miles away, they won’t feel threatened and are more likely to respond to your email with valuable information you can then use to create your own service package. 

The core idea here is to begin building recurring revenue where possible while you continue to bring in new customers with project-based work. 

Recap

In this article, you learned how to increase your visibility on Google, get more online reviews, how to manage those reviews, build your leads list, and how to begin the creation of recurring revenue for your business. You now have a blueprint for getting your business noticed online and increasing customer activity. 

If you found this article helpful, please like and share it. That way, it helps other owners who are looking to overcome these same challenges in their businesses.