According to an often-cited Bloomberg study, around 80% of new businesses crash and burn within the first 18 months. However, the problem is – this study doesn’t exist, or at least it isn’t published anywhere on the Internet. There are literally hundreds of articles and posts referencing this particular study (including this Forbes article, which even included it in the title), but you cannot find one that actually links to it or cite its name. However, something may surprise you – real research papers are far more positive.
An actual study on this issue, conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business concluded that around 60% of companies with 500 or fewer workers fail in the first six years. Of course, there are also wide variations between types of organizations. But even this study doesn’t show the whole picture. A 2002 Small Business Economics survey discovered that around 33% of closed companies were financially successful when they failed.
But, regardless who or what you believe, you have to face the fact that when you start a company, there is a good chance that you will fail after a couple of years. Thankfully, there are some things that could boost your business and maximize your chances to succeed in your branch.
1. Blogging on a Regular Basis
If the traffic on your website is practically non-existent, and if you don’t want all of that money you spent on a good-looking design to go to waste, you need to find a way to drive more traffic. So how do you do it? In short – blogging, search engines and social media (more on those two later). Even though business blogging is down at the moment (even the Inc. 500 companies that have historically been on blogging’s leading edge, reduced it in the past two years). Blogs require resources, time and patience, and the biggest problem most unsuccessful bloggers have is giving up too soon.
However, blogging is still effective – a blog on your homepage filled with news, industry insights and other informative content can be beneficial for your business for many reasons. For starters, one of the greatest benefits of blogging is being able to attract leads, even when your business isn’t working. Also, if you start putting out quality content on a regular basis, you might be surprised how many leads you’ll draw. In fact, according to data gathered by HubSpot, B2B organizations that use blogs regularly in their marketing strategies receive around 67% more leads than those that don’t.
2. You Should Definitely Invest in SEO
No matter how many mainstream publications proclaim that “SEO is dead”, the fact of the matter is – based on the way search engines appear to be developing, it is highly unlikely that SEO marketing will cease to be effective. Even though Google has improved their search engine algorithms over the last couple of years, SEO has evolved alongside it, and developing a solid, search-engine friendly infrastructure is still worth it. As long as you focus on optimal user experience and perform methodic SEO strategies, you will definitely be rewarded with high ranking and organic traffic.
But you have to realize that SEO is an ever-changing industry, and if you want to keep up with the competition, you may have to hire a consultant agency. You still have a lot of information readily available on the Internet, and if you have the time, you can learn everything you need and develop your own strategies. In addition, blogging and SEO go hand in hand, and insightful, well-written blog posts are still crucial for your SEO strategy. As a matter of fact, more than 70% of marketers worldwide say that relevant content creation is the most efficient SEO tactic, according to a 2015 Ascend2 report.
3. Great Email Signature
According to a recent Radicati Group Email Statistics Report, most office workers in the United States send over 40 emails each day. If you think about it, that is more than 40 opportunities to market your business every single day. Email signatures are often treated like an afterthought, but these signatures give you a chance to introduce yourself to potential customers, help them reach you more easily and give them a place to go to and discover more about your company. And if you simply put the name of your organization and a line or two about your business in your email signature, you’re missing a big opportunity to engage with a lot of consumers.
So what should your signature look like? Well, first off, you have to know that branding is only effective when it is consistent, and while adding color is a smart move, you have to make sure that it matches your logo. Furthermore, if you’re creating video content, a link to one of your videos can be especially noticeable in Gmail, because the video’s thumbnail will show up right underneath your signature. If you want an email service with a fast signature generator, you should think about using WiseStamp. This browser extension works on basically all platforms, from Yahoo and Gmail to Mac Mail and AOL, and offers a ton of social media icons and apps, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and many more.
4. Optimize Your Site for Mobile
Basically everyone knows that an optimized, responsive website makes mobile browsing simpler and more enjoyable, but why is this so important? Well, we are living in a world where mobile users are no longer the exception. According to the latest US Digital Users report, around 12% of people access the Internet exclusively from a mobile device, which equates to more than 350 million people worldwide. What’s more the same report states that 80% of Internet users own a smartphone, so chances are, they are also going online through their mobile device at least once a day. Simply put, you have to optimize for mobile because everyone is on mobile.
Making these changes is also crucial for your bottom line, because mobile users actually spend a lot more money than their desktop counterparts. While smartphone users spend the lowest amount per transaction, according to an Adobe Digital Marketing Insights study, they often make small purchases. So if you own an eCommerce site, and you’re attempting to sell something for 5 to 10 dollars, smartphone users are your ideal audience. And finally, mobile-friendliness is more important than ever for your SERP rankings. Last April, Google started enacting serious penalties for sites that fail to meet the company’s standards for mobile responsiveness.
5. Design Your Own App
Mobile optimization may help you rank better on search engines, but if you really want to have an online presence on mobile, you need to design your own app. A recent Gallup survey has revealed that 75% of Americans check their phones once an hour, but what is even more fascinating is the fact that more than 90% of phone time is now devoted to using apps. Smartphone apps have numerous benefits – they increase engagement, encourage repeat visits and most importantly, permit a wide variety of transactions. A simple smartphone icon can help you build brand recognition by providing a unique visual design that users recognize.
Many business owners still think that designing a custom app is expensive and difficult, and since many entrepreneurs don’t have any coding experience, they don’t have the expertise to build an app from scratch themselves. But there are a few companies out there that are trying to simplify the whole process of creating and testing apps at reasonable prices. Therefore, you can easily find a quality app maker, with a drag-and-drop system that allows you to develop and host your own app. Today, even the smallest companies have a chance to build and test apps easily and take advantage of benefits that mobile apps provide in attracting consumers, speeding up sales and building a recognizable brand.
6. Promote Positive Reviews
While brand influencers can help you spread brand awareness on Facebook and Twitter, you have to know that what people say about your business in online reviews really matters to consumers. In fact, according to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey, nearly 80% of customers trust user-reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation from their friends. The increased quantity and quality of these reviews makes the selection process rather easy for people.
It is important to remember that by the time a person starts reading user-reviews, they have identified their issues, worked out what product satisfies their needs and they now want to select a company to use. The path from reading to purchasing is quite short, so it’s crucial to have a positive online reputation. Also, most of user-reviews are visible in Google search results, so having high-ranking positive reviews can possibly persuade a consumer to give your business a chance.
We could talk about business failure statistics again (for instance the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that less than 25% of businesses fail within a year), but you have to keep in mind that numbers could easily be doctored or made up on the fly. What’s more, some failure statistics only serve as references to reinforce the claims by massive publications, and most of them aren’t fact-checked at all.
Don’t get us wrong, the point here is not to slam Forbes or any other magazine out there for their research (or lack thereof), the actual point is that statistics aren’t always correct, so don’t let something you read or someone quoting a random, depressing statistic discourage you from creating something.