Through differentiation, adherence to the goal and creative thinking, even a small business can grow from a recession (Photo: ShutterStock)
Businesses are in a constant battle for existence, whether it is a small business or a large company, see for example the high-tech bubble that burst in the last year, startups were closed and other large companies such as Wix, Faber, Similarov and others reduced activity and hundreds of employees were laid off.
High-tech is just an example from the recent period, but over the years there is almost no business that has not experienced crises as well as periods of peak and boom.
Those who managed to survive and grow were probably endowed with a certain common denominator.
This column is dedicated to the entrepreneurs and businesses behind which are people who had the courage to go all the way with their hearts and also to those who are still embroidering the dream and looking for the way to make it a reality.
As the owner of a private business in the field of tourism, in the last three years I have gone through all the upheavals that a business can go through, from a global epidemic that closed the shutters on the entire industry in which I operate, to a shortage of personnel, flight cancellations, and price increases that affect the entire economy.
Despite all the challenges, and perhaps thanks to them, my business is still alive, kicking and thriving, and I enter 2023 with a great sense of optimism.
I have collected some tips and insights that have helped me along the way and it is possible that other business owners will be able to identify with them and draw inspiration from them.
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Branding and PR are necessary at any size
A common mistake of business owners is to think that branding and public relations are only relevant for large companies with huge budgets.
However, proper branding and effective public relations can help you speed up your marketing and business goals and reach the goals you set for yourself much faster.
Broadly speaking, the purpose of branding and PR is to tell your story in the best possible way without you having to do it yourself in every sales call.
Branding is your identity and visibility, what sets you apart, and also the basis for all the marketing actions you will do, for the emotion you arouse among your customers and the relationship you Branding is reflected in the language of your business, in the company name, in the logo, in the banner you run in the campaign, and this continues in the design of the physical and virtual store, the names of your products and in fact in every interaction, oral or written, with your customers.
For the sake of the example, I could call my business "Tally Tours", but that would not tell my audience anything about what my business is about.
On the other hand, when someone comes across the name "Spirit - World Productions", this name immediately takes them to the realms of fantasy, freedom, exoticism and these are exactly the values I want to be identified with the brand I built.
Where do you start?
A good starting point would be to get out of your personal story.
Think about how the idea of establishing the business formed in you, how you imagined it and the path you have taken since then.
Try to think about what emotions you would like to evoke among your target audience, and try to highlight your uniqueness and added value in relation to your competitors.
Also invest efforts in public relations so that your brand is sufficiently known and talked about among your potential customers, so for example if you specialize in robots you must appear in technology and innovation sections and focus your messages for the audience that consumes these sections.
You can start small and grow as you go.
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There is no substitute for a first impression
The digital is the greatest gift given to businesses in the last two decades and it should be used properly.
The digital is the space where the difference between big and small businesses blurs and it allows us to think big and fly with the imagination.
The online space also largely eliminates the limitations of location and distance and allows businesses today to reach audiences that were previously irrelevant to them.
Nowadays, there is no problem for a wine shop in Herzliya to serve customers in Rehovot, Ashdod and Haifa, and not be limited only to passers-by on the street.
In the digital space, your website should be just as attractive and inviting as a shop window or a newspaper ad.
Remember, even online there is no substitute for a first impression.
In fact, on the Internet the first impression is formed in a few seconds.
Therefore, make sure your website is attractive and makes people want to know more about what you have to offer.
Pay attention to the design, colors and pictures, just as you pay attention to the order and cleanliness in your store.
Make sure your website is clear, motivating for action and that it is accessible and readable on all types of mobile devices.
Be sure to visit your website often, to see what can be improved and what needs to be fixed.
Try to get into the head of an anonymous customer and think what he would think and feel if he entered your website.
Ask for feedback from other people.
If you do not yet have purchase options on the website, set up an interface for online purchases.
In this regard, it is very, very important to make sure that the purchase process is clear, convenient and friendly in an optimal way.
You won't believe how easily a customer stops a payment process in the middle of the slightest difficulty.
Stay connected to customers and competitors
We must never freeze the yeast.
Even in times when the business is successful, it is important that we are as connected as possible to our target audiences.
One of the ways to do this is to join various forums and groups on social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram, which are relevant to the audience we are addressing.
This is an immediate way to be exposed to potential customers.
Sometimes a post by someone asking an innocent question or asking for advice can be next door for you or even give rise to an idea for a new product or service that can be launched.
Also keep an eye on your competitors, because as the famous saying goes, knowledge is power.
Today, in the digital age, it is much easier to "spy" on the competitors.
Go to their websites and pages on social networks, read articles and talkbacks where they are mentioned.
This can help you learn from their successes or mistakes and refine your added value.
Optimism and creativity is the name of the game
Businesses tend to think of periods of economic slowdown like the one we are experiencing today in numerical terms of an expected decrease in revenues.
First, remember that not all sectors and all target audiences are affected in the same way.
There are businesses that actually thrive more even in a recession.
I suggest thinking about this period characterized by rising inflation and interest rates in a more constructive way.
Ask yourself: What will characterize my potential customer base in the current period?
What will his new needs be?
What might attract him and what might deter him?
What will differentiate me, in front of my competitors, in an environment of slowing growth?
Moreover, ask yourself which potential target audiences might be less affected today.
For the purpose of the example, the luxury apartment market is expected to flourish in 2023 according to all forecasts.
And if we take another example, then during the Corona period, when many sectors were fatally affected, high-tech actually flourished, and many opportunities were also created for small businesses and various service providers who adapted to the new situation and began to provide necessary services and products to the home.
My main tip is to stay optimistic and believe in our product or service.
It is important to understand that the life cycle of a business is made up of good times and less good times and not everything is under our control.
No less important than that - as business owners we are sometimes required to step out of the box and reinvent ourselves.
For example, during the time of Corona, quite a few tourism companies stopped their activities and even paid tribute to the entire industry, we at Spirit maintained high morale and developed and marketed new products that would suit the changing needs of our customers.
Businesses need to have the ability to turn lemons into lemonade.
Those who will be able to see beyond the pessimistic predictions and will be imbued with a goal to turn even a crisis into an opportunity, those who will use their failures as a learning process and learn lessons, will come out stronger and stronger and will be resistant to future crises as well.
Tali Yativ is an entrepreneur and CEO and owner of Spirit Productions Olam
Marketing and digital