“In this age of constant and consistent information, Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) have much opportunity to see what their competitors are doing and how they can up their game,” says Andrew Maren, CEO and founder of Fintech firm ProfitShare Partners.

To stay ahead of the curve, he notes, small business owners and entrepreneurs have a number of weapons in the 2022 arsenal, providing they’re willing to learn to use them.

Maren suggests scheduling time daily to make use of the following:

  1. Make sure you’re on all the social media platforms that best perform in your business sector. Then, update these daily to stay top of mind with your potential clients and in your industry. The few minutes it takes could pay off in big orders.
  2. Keep your website updated, fresh and well-written. It is a 24-7 salesperson for your business and – just as you wouldn’t call on a client looking anything but smart – your website should be an extension of you and your business ethics.
  3. Sign up to business-to-business (B2B) and trade journals and magazines, both in print and online. Choose carefully, as overloading your mailbox with information you won’t have time to read defeats the purpose of signing up.
  4. Do a Google search on your main competitors to see which platforms they have a presence on. Often, they’ll post about clients or services and you can see who follows them. Avoid using social media platforms to comment negatively on your opposition – you will always end up looking bad. Stay away from negative discussions, rather learn from their successes.
  5. Network wherever you can. Where there’s a free webinar or industry leader meeting, sign up and join in. Getting known in your industry is vital – somewhere down the line, people will remember your business name, especially if it’s associated with your professionalism.
  6. Engage with your customers – not just in person and on the phone, but online too. If your customer tweets something interesting or important to them, give them a re-tweet. Twitter “likes” are fine, but to help get a company ahead, a re-tweet is truly valuable. If your staff members have a Twitter account, ask them to re-tweet your company tweets – but make sure their profiles are professional, too.

The top trends of 2022

E-commerce takes top prize

While many firms battled through the pandemic, one sector saw new businesses popping up almost weekly, and older companies taking advantage and making money. The Big Winner in the last two years? E-commerce.

Many companies – large and small had not created e-commerce facilities, and when the pandemic hit and people were locked down, those who had the facilities sold their goods online, and the smart small businesses got webmaster building e-commerce sites rapidly.

Not only did online shopping soar, but it also created another whole industry as we watched: Delivery services. Companies like Checkers and Pick ‘n Pay employed anyone with a motorbike and a license, put a branded grocery box on the back of it, and offered drop-at-your-door groceries. 

While some thought the industry would fade as lockdown ended, it has done the opposite. The lesson here? Give people convenience and professional service, and they’ll pay for it.

The second lesson? If you are selling a product or a service in the training sector that you can conduct online, spending money on an e-commerce website and getting the word out there can put your small business firmly on the path to growth.

Remote working is a winner

There’s no reason for you not to have clients in a different province or even country. Make sure you and your staff are familiar with Microsoft Teams or Zoom, and use them to stay in touch, place or receive orders and carry on business as usual.

Remember that distance can make communication a little more difficult than face-to-face meetings, so rather overdo the comms than leave someone wondering. If you meet a client online, follow up with an email saying, “Thank you for this morning’s meeting. As per our discussion, we will be sending you… and fill in the details about your transaction.

Ethical, eco-friendly, socially responsible businesses win

Business people and consumers are actively seeking transparency in business dealings; environmentally sound products and low carbon impact business operations; and companies that take care of their own staff and the communities in which their business operates.

Unethical businesses get found out quickly, and words spread across social media like wildfire. The solution: Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it – and do it honestly.

Overcharging, not paying your creditors on time, and even constantly being late for meetings leave a very poor impression on professional businesses and individuals who may be looking for your products and services.

Take an hour a week – maybe as you take a walk on the weekend – to think about what your company did well that week and where you think you could improve on your service.

Thank your staff members often and praise them out loud when they have performed well. Where they haven’t, have a word with them privately, behind closed doors, and be encouraging. Take note of these trends and others as the year progresses, and make sure you’re in the race when the next Big Thing comes along.