By Rieva Lesonsky
Is your small business doing all it can be to stay competitive in 2013 and beyond? The latest Citibank Small Business Pulse survey spotlighted 10 actions the most successful small business owners take to keep their companies competitive. Are you doing them?
1: Do your research and get educated. Some 88 percent of small businesses surveyed say they regularly work to stay up to date and knowledgeable about their industry and changes in the market.
2: Work hard and do what needs to get done. Successful small business owners are dedicated—so much so that more than half (53 percent) say they didn’t take a vacation last summer.
3: Update or upgrade technology. Nearly 70 percent of respondents say they recently updated or upgraded their computer systems, and 51 percent have made a major change to their business technology.
4: Know your clients. More than two-thirds (67 percent) say they are spending more “face time” with customers to keep their businesses ahead of the pack. Such client relationships also help entrepreneurs stay on top of industry and market trends.
5: Keep a close eye on cash and budgets. Many small businesses say they are keeping cash in reserves and spending cautiously. No wonder: Some 58 percent admit that cash flow issues have been a major challenge in the past few years. However, 73 percent feel they are doing a good job of managing their cash effectively.
6: Be involved. Small business owners are taking part in their business and local communities: 51 percent have built a network of suppliers and partner companies, and 47 percent say they have become more active in the community and local organizations.
7. Be prepared. If another economic downturn occurred, 80 percent of survey respondents say they could handle it. They’ve learned from the recent recession, in which many of them took steps such as running leaner, cutting operating costs and renegotiating contracts.
8: Plan ahead. Some 27 percent of small business owners say they can predict their cash situation four to six months ahead, which enables them to plan for the future.
9: Stick with your aspirations. Despite the challenges of entrepreneurship, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of business owners polled say they are living their dream; three-fourths say they would do it all over again.
10: Market, market, market. More than half (53 percent) of small business owners say they’ve upped social media and online advertising in the last year, while 54 percent improved their websites and search engine presence.
Image by Flickr user Generationbass (Creative Commons)Google+