Women In Business

How to stay ahead of the competition

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In business, you need to keep on your toes to stay ahead of the competition. This means looking at every function in the business to see what you can do better.

Cut costs where possible

We recently decided to streamline our logistics and packing systems, which has meant we have saved a lot of time and which has saved a lot of cash.

Over the last two years, we have grown our following in social media through platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. By dedicating our time and a lot of extra work for these we have reduced the use of traditional marketing methods which in return has reduced costs. As social media is a massive search engine for our target market is allows free marketing and has the potential to reach a never-ending list of people.

Keep up with trends

Black Swallow is an online fashion e-tailer, so keeping up with trends and fashions is a must. Knowing the needs and wants of our target market, 18-25 females, it is easier to understand what to stock up on and where they see the products they want. As social media is a huge platform, today there are so many make up and fashion pages where these young women find inspiration from such as YouTube tutorials and Instagram posts.

Monitor the competition and learn from their mistakes

As a fast fashion e-tailer, we operate in a highly competitive market and so it is essential that we know what is happening around us and what can affect our business.

Monitoring the competition is a great way to analyse their strategies and product investments to see what they excelled in and what they did wrong, so in the future you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Build the right team

When your business is moving fast and you’re trying to scale up, one of the most important determinants for your success is the team that you have around you.

You need to ask yourself questions such as ‘what motivates them?’, ‘do they understand the goals of the business?’ and are they committed. You must also not be afraid to let go of people who just aren’t the right fit for the company culture. To remain profitable and thriving, businesses must hire people who make them money, not cost them valuable time!

Building the right team also involves instilling a lot of trust in your employees. You must trust that they will remain loyal to your brand and support you wherever and however necessary. Give everyone equal opportunities to have a voice whether they are from the creative team or warehouse hands. As a business owner you basically end up being a ‘full time motivator’.

Adapt to change

Whether it be within your control or not, change in business in inevitable. Being stuck in one way of working and not being flexible enough to adapt to the constant change can holds a business back and restricts growth.

With social media constantly changing the algorithms it is difficult to have a structure to grow social media followers so coming up with new ways and being original allows the business to expand organically. Our business is constantly posting and figuring out how to keep on top of social media algorithms because if you are not posting the right thing you won’t get boosted up and you post will not be as visible as you want or once were.

As a business that has grown so rapidly we also experienced strain with our book keeper and accountants had to expand their team offshore to manage workflow. This rapid team expansion resulted in role confusion amongst staff, and a lot of chaos. This put pressure on management who had to step in to work out all the new problems.

In this chaotic time, we as a business had to ensure that our quality of products and service didn’t suffer, the productivity or our employees didn’t decline and that we had the strategies in place, so we could cope with the rapid growth of our company.

Engage with your target audience:

No one wants to be constantly bombarded with businesses pushing products or ads onto them.

We engage our businesswith our audience by incorporating products and relatable posts as a way to build brand loyalty and create a positive word of mouth that allows potential customers to become loyal customers. By knowing what your businesses target market like and what is currently important in their life and trending in the world you are one step closer to winning the customer over.

Hard work

Starting a business requires an unimaginable amount of time, especially when you have no clue what you are doing. I worked as a nurse before completely immersing myself into keeping Black Swallow afloat. When we started I wanted to give up so many times, after watching my friend and family having fun, but I sacrificed that time and kept on putting all my efforts into the business before we saw any success. Putting the minimum amount of effort and time, then expecting your business to soar is nonsense. Without constant hard work you cannot succeed.

About Catherine Wong

Catherine Wong is co-founder of online e-tailer Black Swallow (www.blackswallow.com.au)

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