How small businesses can make the most of disruptive technologies
From Uber to Airbnb to TaskRabbit, consumers have never had more options when it comes to disruptive technological tools. These technologies are transforming the way customers connect, share and experience new products and services across virtually every industry. This shift has fueled the creation of entirely new business sectors, but it has also made more traditional businesses vulnerable to the growing power that consumers wield.
A recent survey revealed that while most small business owners feel there is still great value in their offerings, new competition — specifically from disruptive technology platforms — is affecting the valuation of their companies. Nearly 40 percent of small business owners surveyed believe these new technologies have had a direct impact on the bottom line.
“While there will always be a place for small businesses, it’s important that owners keep themselves up to date on their evolving competition,” Bob House, Group General Manager of BizBuySell.com and BizQuest.com said. “As new technologies make the sales cycle easier than ever, it will be up to small business owners to differentiate themselves, grow revenue and ultimately prove their value to potential buyers.”
So, how can small business owners adapt to this new reality? Here are a couple of tips:
- Fight fire with fire: Consumers are choosing ever more sophisticated tools to look up businesses and interact with them. That means it’s no longer enough to do what you’ve always done — as a small business owner, you need to show up in the tools and platforms that your customers are using. That means it is becoming crucial for all businesses to have a strong online presence across a range of channels, including mobile search results, social media, review sites, and business listings. As a first step, ensure that your business profile is complete and up to date on all of the sites that your customers frequent.
- Pay attention to reviews: Online reviews are perhaps the most powerful technology that consumers wield against businesses. It should come as no surprise that nearly 3 out of 4 small business owners surveyed believe that the tone of their online reviews affects the value of their businesses. But despite this fact, relatively few small businesses are doing anything about it. Just 27 percent of surveyed owners said they encourage customers to post reviews. Only 25 percent attempt to fix poor reviews. Similarly, just 24 percent promote positive reviews though their websites and/or social media profiles.
This creates a strong competitive advantage for the business owners who do proactively manage their online reviews. It puts them in a better position to see the big picture, to respond quickly to customer feedback, and to meet the changing needs of the marketplace. What kind of return can you expect on this effort? Businesses who sign up with Reputation.com see a 550% average increase in their overall review volume, a strong boost in their average rating, and an enhanced search presence.
As you can see, there is no reason to let third-party review sites control your online reputation. By taking a hands-on approach to online reputation management and leveraging the new technologies your customers are using, you can take ownership of your business’s online reputation and stand out from the competition.