There are 28 million small businesses in the United States, and they account for 54 percent of all domestic sales. And although small businesses have a significant role in the nation’s economy, it’s not hard for a small business owner to get lost in the shuffle. With this in mind, here are some key ways to make your business stand out from the competition.

Expand Your Network

Whether you’re servicing consumers or business clients, get out of your office and start meeting influential people. Join professional associations such as the American Marketing Association, American Management Association or others germane to your industry. Introduce yourself at meetings, tell them about your business and pass out business cards. Get to know suppliers or vendors in your industry who can help you negotiate deals on products or services. Spread the word about your business through local journalists or television stations before you open your doors or when you introduce new products.

Promote to Specific Target Groups

Advertise your product and website to generate business, but make sure the media you use targets your core customers. If your clients are primarily small or mid-size businesses, advertise in publications and newsletters that target them. Similarly, promote your wares with the appropriate demographic, psychographic or lifestyle group in mind.

Stay Customer-Focused

Do everything you can for your customers. Hire enough customer support specialists to answer customers’ phone calls. Have your employees answer all questions and resolve all problems immediately. Create a fair return policy for customers, replacing units or parts for free within the first 90 days, for example. Survey customers to determine how you can improve your products and services, then implement new strategies to meet their needs. The more satisfied your customers are, the more likely they are to recommend you to their friends and post positive reviews online.

Design Custom Software

Instead of using the same software as everyone else, consider hiring a company like Compusmart Solutions to create custom software and apps unique to your company. This will enable you to improve communications internally and externally, enhance productivity and efficiency, and streamline your operations, no matter what they are. Examples of more modernized software and apps include updated database, human relations and customer relationship management systems. Customers who have your app on their smartphones will be much more likely to return, especially if the app offers discounts or notifies them of sales.

Hire Talented People

Your business is only as good as the people you hire. So make human resources one of the key cornerstones of your business. Use the appropriate channels to hire management and executive talent, including executive search firms, online ads and referrals. Create a selection process that enables you to choose the best candidates for each job and reward them with fair compensation and benefits packages. Encourage employees to further their education and get additional training that can improve their performance.

If you start instituting these strategies into your business, your company can’t help but stand out more from the competition. You will go above and beyond the normal approach of other businesses and soon be a well-known establishment in your community.