Running a small business is incredibly demanding. It’s exhausting, and emotionally draining. However, there are fantastic rewards at the end of the tunnel. The ability to be your own boss, set your own hours, and manage your own clients is freeing. When things are going well, the highs are exciting, and you feel proud of your achievements. Unfortunately, the lows are much more difficult to handle, because you’ve worked so hard. Today, I’ll help you make sure those lows don’t come around too often! I’m here to help you improve every aspect of your business, from the ground up.
To create a successful business from scratch, you often have to wear many hats. You’re the CEO, the developer, the marketer, and the HR department all at once. It’s difficult to balance this many responsibilities, and do it all effectively. But, don’t worry, it is possible. You don’t need to overhaul the entire business. It’s all about making small tweaks and changes along the way. The small aspects will help make a huge difference when done correctly. So, if you’re looking for a long and fruitful career in your small business, keep reading.
Put your customers at the heart of everything
When you’re deep into the process of business, it’s easy to forget about the core aspect: customers. No matter what business you’re in, you’ve got to put your customers at the heart of everything. As the problems stack up, you’ll inevitably start making decisions based on money, or speed. However, take a second to stop and think about your customers instead. Does this decision benefit them? Your business only works when you put them at the heart of everything you do. Focus on customer service, and shift your focus back to them.
Do some new market research
It’s probably been a while since you’ve done some extensive market research. It’s something that most small businesses commit to in the early days, but fail to do again later on. However, it’s crucial to remember that the market is always changing and evolving. If it’s been two years since your last round of market research, you can bet things have changed! Take a short amount of time to look up, and see what is changing around you. How are your customers changing? What are their new desires, problems, and ambitions? What is your competition doing differently?
If you’re struggling to tap into the market, perhaps your niche marketing needs some tweaking. I firmly believe that a niche business is much more effective than one that tries to please everyone. Only the corporate giants with enormous pockets can afford to serve the masses. Instead, focus on a core niche that loves your product or service. One way to tap into that audience is by creating a persona. A persona is a detailed description of your ideal customers. It goes beyond simple demographics to include lifestyle choices, hopes, dreams, and fears. Really get to know your ideal customer, and then go after them.
Get your finances under control
As a small business owner, the spreadsheets are perhaps the most terrifying thing of all. It’s the finances that keeps the majority of CEOs awake across the country. The stress that comes with balancing the books is incredibly difficult to handle. When you’re worried about money, it’s almost impossible to think of anything else. It’s tricky to make the best decisions, and think clearly. My advice? Hire an accountant to keep the numbers in check, and help you manage the money. As a small business, every penny is crucial. Get the finances under control, and get a better night’s sleep!
Use modern software, and embrace technology
Modern software and technology will help improve the efficiency of your company in a big way. Try to automate as much of the business as possible. From the finances to the payment system to your marketing, set up automated systems. They are accurate, efficient, and much more productive. Meanwhile, you can embrace all the latest technology to make your life easier. Use cloud systems to make storing data and collaborating easier. Tap into the latest technology and apps to connect with your customers too.
Strengthen your HR efficiency
At a certain point, you have to start addressing each and every aspect of your business. If you ask me, it all starts with HR. You’ve got to hire the very best, ensure the onboarding system is efficient, and manage the staff effectively. The strength of your company all begins with the quality of people you hire. Be sure to put all your efforts into the recruitment process. Onboard them effectively with high-quality training. Reward your employees and encourage fresh ideas and collaboration. Finally, use an effective software to effectively manage each staff member. A great example of this is the field service management software for the engineering sector. However, similar software is available for every industry.
Rethink your product
A lot of entrepreneurs find it too painful to go back to square one. However, it’s often the very best thing you can do for your company. If sales are slowing down, you’ve got to ask yourself why? One of the biggest reasons is an outdated product. If the competition are producing a better quality version, you need to match or outshine it. Go back to the drawing board, and think about upgrading your product. Take this opportunity to find new gaps in the market, and tap into emerging audiences. Get a new round of feedback from your target audience, and make tweaks to the core of the product.
Rethink your marketing
If your product is still strong (or you’ve reinvented it), then it’s time to rethink your marketing. If sales are drying up, it might be due to an ineffective marketing strategy. The fundamentals of marketing have changed drastically over the last decade. It’s easy to get lost in outdated marketing tactics. Start thinking about strengthening your online marketing. Consider the power of social media marketing, create an email subscriber list, and advertise on Google. Use those personas we made earlier to target your audience with laser precision.
Increase your networking
I firmly believe that networking is the single most important thing you can do for your business. No matter what industry you operate in, everything revolves around people. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know! Networking holds countless opportunities. New doors open for you, and you never know when you’ll create that new opportunity. Start attending local networking events. Visit trade shows, and strike up conversations. Connect with your industry professionals on Twitter and LinkedIn. Set up meetings, and get to know people. Offer help others and build relationships.
Set clear goals for the future
When you’re running a business, you’re often overwhelmed by the day-to-day running of things. It’s often relentless, and filled with mundane tasks. It makes it very difficult to look up, and scan the horizon. As a business owner, it’s your job to create the vision for the future. It’s your job to set clear, defined goals, and figure out how to meet them. Start by setting a mission statement for the company. Then, outline long-term and medium-term goals. Most important of all, create daily and weekly objectives that will help you achieve those bigger goals. A structured goal system is the only one that works.
Revisit your business plan
As the company grows, the scope and service will inevitably change. Most of the biggest companies are completely different to how they started out. Why? Because the market changes, customers change, and demands change. Your business has to adapt and innovate, or risk becoming irrelevant. So, go back to your business plan, and check that everything still resonates with you. Make tweaks to your target audience, update your mission statements, and reassess your financing. Your business plan is the core part of the company, make sure it’s rock solid.
Improve your relationship with your employees
Your staff are the heart of your business. They’re on the ground, making everything happen for you. When they’re passionate and happy, they work hard. When they work hard, the business is productive. It’s your job to inspire that passion, and cultivate that happiness. Focus on strengthening your relationship with them. Treat them with respect, and give them room to progress. Let them exercise their ambitions, and utilise their strengths. The power of people is the most important thing you have. Use it well!
Go on holiday!
I’ve saved the best piece of advice for last; go on holiday! As business owners, we tend to become obsessed with the job. We feel like the company will fall apart without you at the wheel. The truth is, everything will keep ticking for a week or two. Schedule regular breaks to clear your mind, and get away from the stresses. Spend time with your family, and get a fresh perspective. You’ll come back invigorated, and you’ll see things a little clearer.
That’s it for today. I hope you found some useful information to start putting into practice. Best of luck with your venture!