Are you a small business owner? If so, you’re probably doing your level best to keep your customers happy and find ways of earning new ones, right? Well, there are a number of ways you could go about enhancing and growing your business. Regardless of whether you view success by looking at your profit margins, your customer base or your reputation, here are five ways to bring about improvements:

1. Ask for customer feedback

One way to improve your business is to stop thinking you know best. You’ve done the research, you’re passionate about the idea and your model works, but if you’re not asking for feedback, you’re missing a trick. Send out questionnaires to your customers using online survey software.

Do your customers like your products? Are you competitively priced? Where else do they shop? How would they rate your website? You can find out answers to all these questions, then use the results to tailor your strategy going forward.

2. Focus your online marketing efforts

Running your business and marketing your business are actually two separate (though very large) jobs! If you want to increase your profits, find more customers or generate better feedback, start narrowing your online marketing efforts to one or two social media platforms: it’s better to do less, but to a higher standard. Then, once you’ve cracked one form of marketing, automate as much as you can before moving on to figure out how to use another marketing medium.

3. Team up with others

Whilst there’s a wealth of online information available to small businesses, nothing beats the expertise of an actual person who’s working in your industry—so why not build strategic partnerships?

You might meet others at networking events or be able to reach out to them using social media before putting your heads together to see how you could benefit one another. Your combined forces, shared knowledge and joint experience is bound to take you both further than you might manage alone.

4. Nail your customer service

A recent study has shown that poor customer service is costing UK brands at least £234 billion a year. Similar results can be found in the U.S. and most other countries. If you don’t want to be one of the businesses suffering for lack of something as simple as a prompt reply and clear contact details, take matters into your own hands.

Almost half of all customers prefer to make their complaints online, so have a strategy for dealing with enquiries, returns and feedback, and learn some tips for turning negative reviewers into lifelong customers for your company.

5. Monitor trends

Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and even if you’d prefer to believe that you can continue operating exactly as you’d like to, you need to remember that the global landscape can have an effect on your business.

Whether it’s a recession, a new form of social media or a change in consumer spending habits, you need to be aware of what’s going on so that you can adapt.

Ryan KidmanAuthor: Ryan Kidman is a big data and analytics expert, marketing digital products on Amazon’s Envato. He is not just passionate about latest buzz and tech stuff but in fact he’s totally into it. Follow his latest posts on Business Catalyst. Follow him at @ryankhgb.

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Ryan Kidman is a startup-investor and serial entrepreneur. Founder of Catalyst For Business and contributor to search giants like Yahoo Finance, MSN. He is passionate about blogging and covering topics like big data, business intelligence, startups & entrepreneurship. Follow him on twitter: @ryankhgb

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