Take your business to the next level
You started with creative ideas, and a vision for your business. You have an understanding of small business strategies and the do’s and don’ts. You know what success will look like when it arrives. You’ve read all the books that say if you want it badly enough you will achieve it. You even subscribe to the ‘follow your passion’ mantra.
Before the dream becomes reality, though, there’s plenty of work to do. A lot has been said about that too, but most of it boils down to 3 main things:
1. The 3 P’s: Planning, Preparation and Process
Small business success doesn’t happen overnight or by magic.
- Prepare a one, three, and five-year plan (go ahead and envision a 10-year plan too!). Review it at regular intervals.
- Set up your goals, on a timeline, and plot out specific objectives on the way to achieving them.
- Have a budget for each stage of your plan, and stick to it; factor in your business’ rate of growth and future improvements.
‘Plan for the best; prepare for the worst’ is sound advice. Even the best-laid plans can sometimes fall apart. If the worst should happen, learn from it and incorporate the lessons as you put plan B into action.
Forewarned is forearmed, so prepare well.
- Research your markets, your competitors, and the potential for expansion or diversifying
- Have a range of strategies – with various levels of risk.
But make sure detailed planning and preparations don’t prevent you from DOING.
Putting in place effective and efficient processes will take you a long way on your road to small business success.
- Keep meticulous records; it saves time in the end.
- Make sure you, and your staff, spend time doing what you do best; outsource what you can’t do well.
- Consider the Pareto Principle: you might know it as the 80/20 Rule. It’s about cause and effect. Simply put, 80% of your results will come from 20% of your inputs. Focus on the 20% of activities that work best, and on the 20% of customers who generate the most revenue.
2. Great marketing
When writing a story, an author focuses on purpose, audience and voice. Marketing is a lot like writing a good story – your story.
- Know your business purpose. Is it designed to appeal to a niche market, or provide a specialised service? If you are to work to your strengths, you need to know what they are. You cannot be all things to all customers.
- Know your audience. Show your understanding of customers’ needs or wants. Don’t just tell them what you offer. Instead, make it clear how what you offer solves their problems or fulfills their requirements – and can you do this differently or better than your competitors?
- The voice your customers hear should be yours. Don’t sound like everyone else. Skip the corporate speak and the trendy buzz words.
You are selling yourself as much as your products and services. As interactions become less personal, a genuine connection with your customers and effective communications is a great marketing asset.
Always deliver on what you promise: quality service and good value. Satisfied customers are the best way to achieving small business success.
Above all be real. In the end marketing is all about relationships.
3. Managing the money
Money might or might not make the world go round, but it’s the nuts and bolts of your business.
- Make sure ordering your products and services and completing transactions are seamless and easy. Businesses need to meet customers’ expectations and provide fast, cashless methods of payment as well as traditional channels.
- Invest in quality – whether it’s premises, equipment or staff. They say a lot about your commitment to your business.
- Consult experts in small business finance. You don’t have to be the money wizard if your small business doesn’t have a CFO.
- Don’t miss out on growth opportunities because of a lack of funds. There are fast and easy business loans and line of credit products that will pay for themselves with increased productivity.
These 3 quick tips are enough to get you started. Do the groundwork. Spread the word. Manage your assets and watch your business grow!