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95% of Small Businesses Fall Short of Meeting Goals, yet 77% Are Confident in Their Ability to Execute

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A business strategy helps small businesses achieve their goals, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that a successful business strategy must be flexible to change. The three most common areas small businesses create strategies in are sales (46%), marketing and advertising (41%), and customer service (36%)

Just 5% of small business owners report achieving all their business goals in the past 12 months, according to a new survey from Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews platform.

Clutch found that although 95% of small businesses fall short of meeting their goals, 77% are somewhat or very confident in their ability to execute their strategy.

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“I think the best goals are realistic but slightly optimistic,” said Malte Scholz, CEO and co-founder of project management tool airfocus. “If you don’t aim high enough, you risk setting unambitious goals, but if you aim too high, you may never hit your goals and feel discouraged.”

Overall, 65% of small businesses achieved at least half their goals in the past 12 months.

More Than One-Quarter of Small Businesses Didn’t Do Any Formal Planning in 2019

Small businesses should create a business plan that breaks down their goals and plans to achieve them, yet few businesses actually do.

Clutch found that just 15% of small business owners report fully documenting a strategy in the past year — and 27% developed no strategy at all.

Companies can benefit from a documented strategy to meet objectives and motivate employees. Business owners should, however, be flexible to changing their plans, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

E-commerce site iHeartRaves, for example, changed its focus to selling activewear and loungewear from selling festival apparel due to the current lack of in-person events.

“Luckily, we’ve been successful with the pivot,” CEO Brian Lim said “We’ve learned that necessity is the mother of change.”

iHeartRaves is surviving the current economic downturn because of its flexibility to reshape its formal plan.

Small Businesses Focus on Creating Strategies for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service

No matter their industry, Clutch found that small businesses tend to create strategies in three areas:

  1. Sales (46%)
  2. Marketing/advertising (41%)
  3. Customer service (36%)

A sales strategy places businesses’ products in front of target customers, while an advertising and marketing strategy reaches those customers and persuades them to make a purchase. Finally, a customer service strategy keeps customers happy.

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All three strategies go hand-in-hand with one another.

“If the marketing department is failing, so will the sales department, and so will customer service,” said Rueben Yonatan, CEO of VoIP research database GetVoIP.

To create a successful business strategy, Clutch recommends the following five approaches:

  1. Set actionable and clear business goals.
  2. Focus your efforts on the business areas that matter most.
  3. Find a mentor to help guide your business strategy.
  4. Draft a formal, documented business strategy.
  5. Follow your business plan, but revise it regularly.

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