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    Staying in business is challenging which is why so many fail within the first few years. The internet and globalization has totally changed how consumers shop, and businesses must be front and center in order to stand out amid the competitors.

    That in itself is challenging, but there are a few tips entrepreneurs can follow that will increase the odds of sustainability.

    1. Understand the Ongoing Market – Do the market research, identify gaps, and then fill one or more of the gaps. However, don’t just sit back and think nothing ever has to change. Market gaps come and go, so do regular periodic market research.

    2. Whatever the Business, be Outstanding – There are plenty of mediocre companies that can meet customer needs. Stand-out businesses are outstanding at what they do! It may translate to offering faster customer service, higher quality product, efficient deliveries, regular product or services upgrades, and so on.

    3. Be Customer-Centric – Without customers, a business does not remain an ongoing enterprise for very long. Give the customers what they want and not what the business owner prefers to give them. This sometimes means making changes to products, services, logistics, customer service practices, marketing strategies, and so on.

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    4. Find the Niche and Tap into it – What is the specific market niche targeted? Market research and feasibility studies can help with market segment identification. However, after pinpointing the target market, the business has to develop a brand or uniqueness to tap into that market. The marketing strategies then present the brand in a way most appealing to the market.

    5. Develop an Authentic Brand – The business brand should incorporate qualities and values that make customers feel special. They include honesty, reliability, quality, innovativeness, and a host of others. The authentic brand is embedded in everything the business does, from development of the business plan to delivery of products and services.

    6. Become an Expert – Today’s savvy customers want businesses that are experts in their particular industry segment. Expert businesses give excellent customer service, are knowledgeable of the industry and their products and services, stay current on technology, and most of all, understand their customers’ needs.

    7. Be Good Communicators – Good communicators are managers that ensure customers get feedback to inquiries, customer service representatives who fill orders as promised, and marketers who deliver a clear message as to how the business is unique and why people should do business with them and not their competitors. Give friendly service. Be willing to share information and expert advice through online forums. Maintain social media sites with current content. Publish online newspapers. Do anything that informs the marketplace that this is a business not to be ignored.

    8. Be Socially and Environmentally Responsible – Stakeholders expect all businesses to be socially and environmentally responsible. This means participating in charitable and community events and minimizing the waste of natural resources. The good things businesses do will return a hundred-fold in the way of new customer leads and new sales.

    There are lots of other ways to make a business stand out among competitors. The strategies should be unified in that the message and services are consistent. Treat the market right, and it will treat the business right. That is truly the bottom line of business sustainability.
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