Everybody is loyal to a local business that may render some fond memories. Friendly staff, excellent service and consistency builds a growing and enduring relationship between business and customer. Although there are often hundreds of businesses in a city competing for the same clientele, many manage to stand out in the vast sea of entrepreneurial chaos. Take Vancouver for instance. As of 2017, the city itself has 79,989 businesses. That number skyrockets to 270,848 businesses when expanded to include all of Metro Vancouver. Entering a market that is filled with well-established businesses and prone to intense levels of competition is immensely intimidating. So, how do businesses survive?
Here are 10 tips that successful businesses integrate into their business models:
1. A good product or service 
Needless to say but I’ll say it anyway, a solid product or service carries a business. Whatever your business may be, you have something people need. It’s also important to understand where your business fits into the market. Don’t be the business with steep prices or mediocre service. Competition is high. Gaps in your service can quickly be filled by other businesses. Know your business and your worth. Be honest with your clients. If there’s anything that creates a balanced relationship between business and client, it’s honesty. 
2. Hiring the right people
Assembling the right team can be challenging no doubt. Especially in services that employ many temporary or short term employees. Preventing complacency is paramount to a successful business and should be considered well in advance. Creating a strong relationship between employer and employees stems from a fine balance between two components: non-negotiable standards and being approachable. Setting standards that employees adhere to creates a joint understanding about how operations proceed. Consequences must exist, otherwise standards are empty ideals. In turn, this allows employees to understand their obligations and gives them some free reign within their field. Refraining from micromanaging also conveys that employers trusts their employees. Being approachable lets staff build a strong relationship with their employer and encourages them to speak up if there are any issues. If you expect accountability from your employees, lead by example.
3. Know the competition
Being aware of the competition and understanding their strategy gives you an advantage in building your own business model. Do some research, figure out what’s lacking in the market, know what other businesses aren’t providing and fill the gap. Understanding other businesses also does not have to be all about competition. There is plenty of room for partnerships and referrals between companies. This builds a good reputation for businesses as concerned with the well-being and success of their communities and clients. If one business can’t provide a certain service, referring a customer to another trusted business can build that relationship of loyalty.
4. Be money smart
Making your first buck as a new business can be incredibly rewarding. You may well be eager to spend your money on a new product or service and although that is a good future prospective, it should be thought about in detail and planned for. Save as much money as possible, even when business is going well. You never know what life has in store and it’s better to fix a major unexpected problem than scrambling for finances. New products and services should definitely be added gradually to enhance the customer experience but make sure that, in doing so, you are not throwing yourself under the bus.
5. Understand the market and new products
Although being money conscious is a priority for any small business, knowing when to introduce a new product or service to allow for market changes is equally important. Make sure you’re in tune with trends and what people are seeking so that you can be one step ahead of the game rather than playing catch up. Staying on top of pop culture trends is also a big advantage when it comes to creating tailored content for social media. Create an environment that people want to be a part of.  
6. Baby steps
In short, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Whether it be with new products, services, more staff or renovations, make sure you are in a good place financially to make changes or apply for financing. Being financially organized is a good way to evaluate your limits and make smart and calculated decisions about the direction of your business. Similarly, learn to evaluate risks, such as market trends and new products, so that you can determine whether an investment in a certain good is going to payoff. Of course you can make money on trends in the short term but do you profit in the long term? What makes sense for the future of your business? 
7. Taking feedback into consideration
Everyone loves to hear the things they do well but knowing how to take criticism is one of the greatest strengths you can have as a business owner. Be professional in your responses and seek to locate the source of the problem and improve it for future customers. Accepting feedback and using it to improve your business will allow you to build the strong customer experience your business seeks. Making meaningful improvements based on feedback shows good character and openness to improvement.
8. Create a personal experience
How you treat your customers is key to creating a good reputation. Make sure your staff is always engaging respectfully and positively with people, especially when encountering difficult customers. Make their interactions with you memorable on two accounts: your excellent service and a good product.
9. Get your business out there
Engage with your community, be involved online (I cannot stress this enough), talk to people and reach out to other businesses or events that may need volunteers or your business’ services. Be approachable. Make people want to partake in your business. Further, make your business recognizable. Make sure people know you’re out there and be clear about what your business provides for the community.
10. Don’t cross that bridge when you get there 
Make decisions beforehand on how conflict should be handled. Leaving it until it arises can cause you to make a hasty decision which can reflect poorly upon your business and confuse both staff and customers. Make sure you have a standard procedure for resolving any hiccups. Always remain respectful and professional. It’s not you against the customer or employee but rather you and the customer or employee against the conflict. 
Whatever your business, keep these strategies in mind to help improve and build a strong foundation. Seek to establish the best business with the best service out there and you’ll be on your way to beating out the competition!

By Juliana Schneider