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5 Surprising Things Holding Your Business Back (and How to Solve Them)

Diana Wertz
Diana Wertz

From website design to software solutions, here are 5 tips to spend wisely and save money.

The way customers find and select businesses has shifted dramatically over the past few years. Are you keeping up? There are many ways in which your small business might be falling short of its full potential, failing to leverage current technology or insights or missing big opportunities. Read on for 5 surprising ways your business is being held back and how you can address them stat!

1. Website design, copy and SEO

Your website is one of your most powerful business tools. Not only does it drive home your business's branding and provide information, but it can be a low-cost lead generation engine.

A website that is hard to navigate, looks dated or unappealing, lacks vital or compelling information or fails to appear in search results won't drive new business. In today's digital-centric world, an outdated or non-user friendly website can scare away customers the same way a decrepit storefront would.

Work with a search engine optimization (SEO) professional (here's how to identify the right type) to understand how your website might be better organized, or how you can improve the look and functionality of your individual web pages. You can request a website audit from them to assess your site's current issues and recommendations for changes. Understanding which changes will have the greatest impact is a key component of a website audit – not all SEO elements are equal with their impact on your ranking!

Ensuring your website is SEO optimized is crucial. Vistaprint found that small business customers are increasingly using searches to find businesses that meet their needs. Not only do your existing pages need to maximize their full SEO potential, but you probably need additional pages dedicated to search terms that relate to your business (such as blogs, landing pages or resource download pages). An experienced SEO freelancer can easily give you an assessment and provide recommendations.

2. Website and app elements


Are your current product listings optimized for users and search? Should you use product shots or lifestyle imagery? Which order form converts more customers? These are all questions that, if solved, can lead to increased sales for your business, but if left unattended, could turn people off. Even your Amazon product listings need to be optimized for searches on that platform.

Forms and checkout process. Asking for too much information right away can reduce your conversion rates for lead generation forms or for checkout initiations. Leaving off fields altogether can increase conversions. Be sure to conduct A/B testing to find the right solution for your business and customers.

Images. Are your product or service images reaching their full potential at converting customers? Some shoppers prefer lifestyle imagery over product shots; others prefer the opposite. Conduct A/B tests to see which your customers prefer. Many customers also strongly prefer multiple images showing the actual product in available colors.

Product listing. Are your customers getting the information they need from your product listing? Many customers will leave a vendor's website and move on if they cannot find the data or specs they seek. Survey your customers or website audience. A content writer with experience in your industry can also provide valuable insight into industry-wide best practices.

3. Inefficient Financials

Are you paying more for your software solution than you need to? The technology market changes fast. As an example, the prices of cloud storage have dramatically decreased since 2015. Consider outsourcing a quick inventory of all the software and subscriptions your business currently pays for. Payroll services are the most common business service owners overpay for. Payroll companies sign up businesses up for an initial competitive rate, but then slightly increase the cost of their service each year.

Additional forensic accounting can uncover many inefficient expenditures that commonly plague small businesses, such as oversized internet plans, credit card fees or other merchant fees, marketing efforts with a low return on advertisement spending (ROAS), overly expensive office furniture, press releases and lax expense policies. Many accountants are available on-demand for financial audits.

4. Lack of project management

Taking too long to implement updates or upgrades for your services or product offering leaves thousands of dollars on the table in missed sales. According to the Project Management Institute, for every $1 billion invested by U.S. businesses, $122 million is wasted due to lacking project performance. Fewer than one-third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget over the past year, according to a recent study by the Standish Group.

These days you can find talented professional project managers for specific projects or hire one with experience in your industry for a full-time position. This is one of the more ROAS-centric job roles your business will have!

5. Social media management

Inactive or unpopulated social media profiles can scare away customers, just as an unappealing website can. It's also been well documented that social media can drive orders, bookings, app downloads and in-store traffic. But this won't happen on a meaningful level without thoughtful strategy or the right kinds of posts. To harness the power of social media, you need to figure out what post content is most popular and successful, when the best time to post is, and you'll need someone staffing the customer service side of social media.

Whether you need help determining what kinds of posts are most successful or writing more posts that follow a predetermined formula for success, today's freelancer marketplaces can help you find a skilled social media manager (or social media content writer) to help you maximize your social media potential.

Image Credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock
Diana Wertz
Diana Wertz Member