How to Become an Agile Small Business Owner
Women’s Venture Fund

As a small business owner, you have one proven advantage over larger corporations—adapting to changing marketplace conditions. During these challenging times for entrepreneurs, you can adopt the skills to move forward to sustain and grow your business regarding product innovation, superior customer service, and talent retention. Here are the key skills to transform yourself into an agile leader:

• Without layers of bureaucracy you can take advantage of new opportunities by staying abreast of trends in your industry. Once you have identified an opportunity, move quickly on market research. You can learn to pivot to meet challenges such as entering new markets, jerry rig processes, and test pricing strategy.

• Become customer-centric by introducing off-the shelf, customized products for key accounts.

• Dare to disrupt your industry with a unique new or enhanced product. Think Uber, who transformed the car service/taxi industry, or Airbnb, who disrupted the hospitality industry.

• Increase your connection with customers through timely communications (blogging and zooming) on topics you are expertly knowledgeable about. Remember that constantly selling your products can fall on deaf ears; rather, you should strive to find customers’ pain points and propose solutions to their problems. How can you meet their needs?

• Pay close attention to customer feedback: Respond promptly to complaints, look for trends in feedback that might point to product or service enhancements, and always be seeking testimonials to share through your website, blog, and new business proposals.

• Be a lifelong learner—feed your creativity with new skills, especially in the technology area.

• Network, virtually for now. Find successful small business owners outside of your industry and pick their brains on business processes, talent acquisition strategies, new vendor resources, and more.

• Invest in your current employees. Develop intrinsic as well as the usual extrinsic rewards of increased compensation, flexible schedules (even while working remotely), and professional development. Intrinsic rewards like consistent receipt of praise and appreciation of work well-done, the opportunity to learn a new skill, and awareness of your short- and long-term business goals improve the likelihood that your employees will become ambassadors for your brand and stakeholders in your success.