Whether you’re looking to lease Melbourne office space or want to buy a corner store in New York City, running a small business on a budget can be difficult. If your small business is in an expensive city, that difficulty only gets compounded.
That being said, it’s certainly not impossible. With the right habits and plans, you can still thrive on a budget in a city with high prices. Here are six tips to get you started:
1. Tap into local networks
Most cities have development centers, chambers of commerce, and other kinds of networks meant to help small businesses thrive. By attending their meetings, undergoing training, and becoming friendly with other members, you can learn practical info and make valuable contacts that help you stay within budget.
2. Partner with others
Although the business world is competitive, sometimes it’s better to collaborate. Whether you partner with other businesses to host events or offer promotions, this strategy can help you bring in new customers without the need for a huge marketing budget.
Look around for businesses that are similar to yours, and approach them with a partnership proposal. For example, if you run a gym, a local health food store might be interested in jointly putting on a wellness event.
3. Prioritize customer service
Regardless of whether or not the customer is always right, customer satisfaction matters. Furthermore, that satisfaction depends on great customer service—which is why businesses should prioritize it.
The better the service, the more likely customers are to return again and again. So, be sure to train your staff accordingly, and always aim to exceed customer expectations. A simple way to start is by offering loyalty programs or sending personalized thank-you notes to express your appreciation.
4. Optimize business operations
Optimize how your business is run to make it as efficient as possible. Focus on ways you can streamline tasks as this will boost productivity, reduce costs, and lead to increased revenue.
Start by identifying tasks you could be outsourcing or automating. For example, if administrative work is taking a lot of time but not adding a lot of value, consider hiring a virtual assistant to help. You could also use accounting software to make bookkeeping a breeze. Back this up with lean management principles, and you’ll be all set to hone in on what works and eliminate what doesn’t.
5. Build a Strong Online Presence
Whether you run a small business or a large corporation, a strong online presence is essential. Building a professional website and social media presence will help you attract new customers while keeping existing ones interested and loyal.
Once your site is up and running, consider starting a blog to share useful insights that are relevant to your customers and industry. Share these posts on your social media accounts to start conversations and drive interest.
6. Develop unique offerings
Offering unique products or services is a tried-and-true method for standing out from the crowd. If you’re the only place in town that has what you offer—say, a highly-prized specialty coffee—then people will flock to you for it.
To get an idea of what to offer, start with market research. In particular, research the competition. Pay attention to what they’re doing well, and pay even closer attention to what’s missing in the market. Once you’ve identified a promising market gap, fill it with a unique offering.
Although it may not be a walk in the park, it is certainly possible to run a small business in an expensive city. Keep the above tips in mind to thrive while staying within budget.