Launching a boutique business demands courage and self-belief. But achieving long-term success can prove to be a formidable challenge for even the bravest, boldest entrepreneur.
Sadly, only around half of small businesses last five years or more, while just a third survive for a decade. Standing the test of time is incredibly tough. But it can be done.
Two of the biggest concerns facing any small business are attracting customers and managing costs. Building a loyal customer base is a high hurdle in most niche markets, especially if your products carry sizeable price tags.
Expanding your boutique business is crucial if you want to survive. Fortunately, today’s wealth of online platforms and tools can empower you to reach a wider audience. In this post, we’ll explore how you can grow your enterprise, attract customers, and more.
1. Build a professional, high-quality website
Believe it or not, just over half of small businesses have a website. That means nearly half of small business are making a major mistake.
Not having a website could cost you money.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your boutique enterprise is “too small” to justify an online presence beyond a Facebook page. The world’s biggest corporations invest in lavish websites, and that effort is not just to sell products.
It’s about branding. It’s about engagement. It’s about forming a bond before the visitor even crosses your physical threshold. And this is something that every business needs, even boutique firms.
Think about it. A friend recommends a business. You google it — but there’s no website. Not even a trace. Would you trust the company? Of course not.
A well-designed, well-optimized website helps you establish a voice, promote your inventory, and build relationships with prospects. Include testimonials from satisfied customers and hire a professional photographer to capture your venue at its best.
2. Embrace the Power of Social Media
A website is a good start to expanding your boutique business. But you need to take advantage of social media to really break out.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer paid advertising services. These are well worth investing in to help your boutique business reach a bigger audience. You can refine your campaigns to target specific users based on certain criteria. This minimizes the risk of your ads landing in front of consumers with no interest in your products.
More than one in three people claim to visit social networks when researching a business and their goods. This grows increasingly likely the younger your audience is.
But don’t just rely on paid ads. Engage with users and other local businesses. Create well-written posts with attractive images to boost their visibility. Offer giveaways and get involved in trending topics.
Being active on social media will help with:
- Building brand awareness
- Revealing the human side to your small business
- Helping you forge connections with local people
- Driving traffic to your site
- Connecting with other local businesses, potentially leading to partnerships
3. Partner with Local Businesses
We touched on connecting with other local businesses on social media above. But it’s best to be clear: We’re not talking about direct competitors. We’re talking businesses with products or services related to yours.
For example, if your business sells vintage clothing, why not see if a local company specializing in vintage jewelry wants to join forces?
You could create promotions together. Offer a 25 percent discount on a dress if the customer shows a receipt for an item from the jewelry brand. Or vice versa. Market any deals you both decide on across your respective websites and social accounts.
Research other companies in your area and try to identify an opportunity. Create a compelling proposal and outline how a partnership would benefit you both before approaching them.
4. Utilize Popular Online Marketplaces
Selling products through your website is a given. But you should also be using eBay, Etsy, and Amazon to move stock, too.
Don’t defeat yourself by thinking there’s too much competition because you’re catering to a niche audience. Etsy, in particular, is a fantastic platform for boutique businesses selling unusual goods.
Hone your listings for maximum appeal. Think carefully about what search terms your target customers may use when browsing a marketplace. Include high-resolution images that show your products from different angles. Interact with customers’ questions or comments to establish trust.
Selling via online marketplaces helps increase brand visibility and bring newcomers to your website. Consider offering discounts for multiple purchases, combine shipping, and respond quickly. The more positive feedback you earn, the more credibility you’ll achieve.
5. Seek Further Funding
You may not be able to expand your boutique business right now. Perhaps money’s tight. Maybe your first-year income simply won’t stretch to website hosting or diversifying your stock.
Don’t abandon the prospect of growth just yet, though. Small business loans offer a simple, effective solution. It’s nothing to be afraid of: just find a reputable loan company with realistic terms. Having adequate capital for growth is a foundational principle of startups in Silicon Valley. And while the scenario might be a little different for a boutique business, the general principle of having capital for growth still applies.
The right business loan can help you expand your boutique business and establish a stronger online presence. Just make sure you do your research and know exactly how much you need to achieve your goals.
6. Explore Local SEO
Research shows local intent is a common part of many consumers’ search activities. They want to find businesses in their area and solve their problem fast.
Local SEO helps target customers making geographically-related searches like these. It’s ideal for reaching people nearby and appearing on maps, too.
You can get the most out of local SEO by working on your Google My Business account. Your boutique business will display on Google Maps and show consumers exactly how to find your brick-and-mortar site.
Positive reviews are a huge benefit to solid local SEO, too. Invite customers to leave feedback and share their experiences. Searchers who see your small company has good reviews and is closer than any other have less reason to choose a competitor.
Ensure you optimize your website for mobile devices as well. Roughly 88 percent of smartphone users search for local businesses, specifically for information on opening hours and directions. Furthermore, 78 percent of local searches performed on mobile devices lead to an offline purchase.
But your site has to be designed to accommodate mobile devices to actually achieve such positive results. Ensure your mobile website:
- Loads within just a few seconds, to minimize the risk of abandonments
- Navigation is smooth and logical
- Videos and images play without lag or constant buffering
- Buttons and links are easy to interact with
- Contacting your business is simple (click-to-call buttons should be available)
Putting in the Time and Effort Will Eventually Pay Off
Expanding your boutique business may not be easy. It may not be fast. And it may not boost your revenue instantly.
But the benefits are there if you’re willing to put in the time and energy. Follow the tips explored above to grow your small company in an organic, stable way.
Over time, you may attract more customers and build a stronger reputation. Study your options carefully before deciding on any course of action. Don’t rush into new ways of working and marketing your business. Take it one step at a time.
Want to learn more about managing your small business effectively? Discover a wealth of helpful resources in this Business Growth and Management Guide.