A lot of small business owners are starting their businesses straight out of school. They received their diploma and they are off to the races, opening their own business. So you now have the location, the business cards, phone number and email – but what makes a small business successful?
Here are some tips for you to follow to help your business succeed and deliver for your customers:
Just because someone invented a gadget that you saw on TV at midnight, and they convinced you with their 3 minute infomercial that this is for you doesn’t mean you should buy it. Wait 24 hours before you impulsively buy the $2000 gadget that will fix your life/business. Always wait before you make a large purchases because all businesses have a budget and you do not want to regret that you bought it and now can’t make payroll or rent.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
I am sure that we have all heard this saying before. You can have the greatest marketing efforts for your business in your local area and beyond, but if you do not deliver the quality service or product you promoted, you are dead in the water. It does not matter how good your marketing is, or if you have planes flying overhead with the greatest messaging of all time. It will not work if you do not deliver.
There Will Always Be Competitors
Never think that you are the only one in the game. Customers have an abundance of choices everywhere they go: food, cars, clothes, and different types of services. Anything you can think of. And there is always the option to keep their money in their pocket. You want to stand out and give clients a reason to come see you and spend their money at YOUR business.
This is a big one. A lot of people think, “Oh I am good with money” or “I will be fine.” But when you get $50,000 for start-up costs, it can dwindle away very quickly between rent, supplies, phone, signs, business cards, etc. The list goes on and on. Get a professional to help you. When there is someone from the outside, like an accountant/book keeper, they can quickly and clearly see where you need to bring in the spending or cut back on something. Or to even just hold you accountable when that midnight temptation was just too much.
When Do You Go See A Lawyer?
When it comes to business you do not want to be casual about any documentation, especially if there is a partnership agreement, lease, large purchase, etc. After you sign on the dotted line, you are past the point of no return. Two eyes are better than one. Have a lawyer look over something you are not sure of. It’s worth the investment.
Not All Customers Are Equal
For most businesses about 20% of your customers drive 80% of your revenue. These 20% may want more of your time and attention, so it is good to know which of your customers are part of this 20%. You do not want to be stuck spending too much time on the other 80% that are not driving your revenue. Work smarter not harder.
Listen To Your Customers
Yes – you are the expert and your customers are coming to you for your expertise BUT they are the ones that are driving your business. Be open minded to what they are telling you and any great nuggets that could show you what direction you should be taking your business. If you hear something from one client chances are there is another out there that is having the same issue.
Get Comfortable With Social Media
Yes that is right! If you just have a Facebook page because you want to keep in touch with family overseas and Twitter to keep up to date with hockey trades and other sports news, you need to get on social media for your business. If your business is not, you will be missing the mark on advertising your business. Take advantage of the free platforms that can get you in the conversation with the people you want to be talking to. Customers!
It Is Not All About Selling
Some people seem to think that it is all about selling for a business to run and be successful. It is also about your passion and drive to help customers or clients. If you are strictly in business to make money, this will show in your lack of attention to a customers’ needs. Without that passion, you’ll do more damage and fail more quickly than not selling enough ever will.
Not getting a business card or contact information from a client is like meeting someone you’d like to go on a date with and not getting their number. Your date will never happen and you’ll never be in contact again. What a waste! The same goes for your contact info: make sure your customer leaves with a business card of yours. Once you’ve built up that contact list, send an email out once a month reminding them that you are available for them. This gives them a tap on the shoulder that you are still around and that they should come in and see the new product or service you are offering. This is a great way to keep that “first date feeling” and keep business going strong.
Understand Your Operating Costs
As a business owner, you need to know what it costs you to be open for one day. This includes hydro, payroll, Wi-Fi, office supplies, etc. Add it all up and divide per day = how much it costs you to be open per day. This will help you determine how much you need to charge for your services or what your profit margin needs to be on your product in order to cover your operating costs and keep the doors open. When you do not know your operating costs and the impact on your net profit there is no motivation to build your business. The key is to minimize the time it takes to get your service or product to market. Once you’ve got your production down pat, you’ll be able to make more money and the customer will still be getting a high quality product.
If you are miserable going in to your business or working on your business, then it’s time to evaluate if this is the right thing for you. There is no point being a business owner if getting up in the morning is a huge drag and you can’t wait for Friday. Be in business to be HAPPY! Why? Because customers deserve you at your best and when you’re happy, that’s easy to deliver.