Micro-businesses are having a moment. They’ve grown considerably in the last several years, initially prompted by pandemic regulations and the Great Resignation, which led Americans to create 2.8 million more online micro-businesses in 2020 than in 2019. Now, fast-forwarding to 2022, these super-small small businesses that employ fewer than 10 people have continued to pick up momentum, reimagining e-commerce and transforming creator and gig economies along the way.
The entrepreneurs behind micro-businesses are commonly found on TikTok, sharing with viewers the simplicity of building a business from the ground up. While the revitalization of the gig economy has transformed side hustles into legitimate businesses, it does take more than hard work and algorithm reliance to bring the successes of a micro-business to fruition. Not every hopeful entrepreneur becomes “Nice Shirt. Thanks!”, which back in 2020 posted a video and now has more than 440,000 TikTok followers and a backlog of 6,500 requested shirt designs.
Social media is undoubtedly an excellent and helpful tool for growing one’s business—but it’s certainly not the only one. No matter the size, it’s critical for businesses to lean on a variety of resources to drive business success, especially at a time when the e-commerce market is highly crowded.
Here’s what aspirational entrepreneurs need to know about the back end work of creating and building a micro-business.
First comes the website. Then comes social
Micro-businesses must have a website — a “home base” that’s secure, dependable and findable 24/7. It’s still difficult not to wince when thinking about last year’s massive Facebook outage that left many business owners in the dark.
While social media is a crucial part of running any business and reaching one of today’s most influential group of shoppers — Gen Z, which accounts for more than 40% of global consumers — it’s not quite powerful enough on its own to ensure success.
Though great to connect with this audience, by confining your business efforts to social media, you are still missing out on the portion of buyers who pack the biggest purchasing punch –Boomers. Data show that social apps fall short with those ages 55+ with only 17% recently discovering a product on them, and of those only 4% completing a purchase.
Furthermore, 47.6% of Internet users say the main reason they use social media is to build relationships and keep in touch with friends and family. If most Internet users aren’t even looking to buy online, they have other motivations for being in those spaces, which means they likely aren’t looking for — or even worse, might be tuning out — the ads and promotions that flood social media.
For brands looking to succeed on social, they need to first succeed at owning their own site. A dedicated space is critical for establishing customer relationships and creating dynamic ways to showcase products and services. Then, as a secondary tool, entrepreneurs should turn to apps like TikTok and Instagram to deepen those connections and make memorable moments in time.
Don’t skimp on SEO – do your research
While your business might be micro, your reach should still be macro. SEO is one of the most important elements when it comes to a business – of any size – being found by consumers. More than 90% of online experiences start with search engines, so to stand out, your SEO needs to be strong and keywords relevant.
Google allows anyone to do a simple keyword exercise and learn what terms people are using when they are searching. To start, type your keywords into the search bar and see what comes up in the suggested listing. Next, hit enter and search the keyword terms to see what populates the first few pages of results. Take note of patterns and opportunities for differentiation. To take this further, consider leveraging SEO tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs.com and Google Page Speed Insights.
Another important consideration for micro-businesses, in particular, is how they are using SEO to boost their local presence or recognition within a more niche space. The most successful entrepreneurs will operate at the intersection of localized and digital, connecting more personally and directly with customers through platforms like Nextdoor, Facebook and Google local ads.
SEO optimization is like owning your own digital destiny. Results are strong for those website owners who make SEO a regular practice. And a really good SEO strategy has purpose and intent — it should be as much about optimizing results as it is about being recognizable to your audience. With a relevant and engaging online voice, businesses can consistently reach the right audiences.
Tune in to all the channels available
Consumers want and need options in this new hybrid reality, and there seems to be no turning back. Business methods need to reflect that. To further scale and grow your micro-business, entrepreneurs need to be flexible and agile, tapping into every available platform. Consider exploring different discovery avenues, such as a Google Business profile, and sales moments, such as BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup in Store). There are so many options to maximize awareness and increase sales touchpoints; aspiring entrepreneurs should learn about their customers’ needs and preferred shopping styles and adopt the best ones.
Getting on multiple social media platforms, not just one, is another way to increase reach. Just recently Instagram followed in the steps of TikTok by offering new online commerce tools. By expanding your digital presence, you’ll remove additional barriers to entry and ensure a more frictionless shopping experience for customers.
Ultimately, micro-businesses should be authentic and customer-centric. Stay true to your brand’s mission and focus on how you can uniquely position your products and services in today’s noisy market. Lastly, don’t shy away from engaging professionals to help you ensure that your site is set up to do what it needs to do.