By Beth Tabak
“Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.” Albert Einstein
Recently I heard a statistic that the majority of businesses operate at 60% of their potential. While I was unable to obtain the source of that statistic it seemed rather accurate or maybe even high. The Small Business Association reports that “2/3 of new employer firms survive at least 2 years, and about 1/2 survive at least 4 years.” The language they use is almost as scary as the statistics themselves. This article provides tips to help you develop and grow a strong, solid business foundation.
1- Solid Plan with a Clear Simple Vision
Think of the impact you would like your business to have in the world. Think big! You may never reach your vision but the vision itself is so grand that your team gets excited about it. Then back up and look at what would have to happen to get there. Create a solid plan with realistic short and long term goals.
2- Focus on Profitability vs. Revenue
While revenue is important, high revenue doesn’t add value if your expenses are just as high. What can you do to create more profit? Possibly develop various streams of income. What expenses could be reduced or eliminated? How can you operate more efficiently? Think profit.
3- Work “in” and “on” your business
Sometimes we get so caught up in daily tasks “in” our business we forget to step back to take a wider look from the outside. Seeing it through a customer’s eyes. Noticing how it fits into the community. Preparing the future of the company. On the other hand, we can get so comfortable working “on” our business we forget to step in to talk with customers and experience what the employees face on a daily basis.
4- Automate and Create Systems
What do you need to automate? What system can you put in place that would free up your time or make you more money? What tasks need to be eliminated, systematized, or delegated. What system would help your employees be more effective and provide the best service? Finally, is there a system that needs to be upgraded? Automation and systems help your business be consistent and efficient.
5- Consistent Marketing Plan
Marketing expert Jay Conrad Levinson of Guerilla Marketing has said that “I hate to admit this, but mediocre marketing with commitment works better than brilliant marketing without commitment.” It is important to have a marketing plan in place that is consistently and persistently being carried out on a daily basis....not just when you need more customers.
6- Increase Value to Your Customers
Give more than your customers ask for...more than they expect. There are 3 convenience stores by my neighborhood. The first one built I visited regularly and was satisfied. Nothing unique. The second I visited less than a handful of times and had to wait every time to get checked out so haven’t been back in years. Every time I get gas at the third store I am greeted over the intercom with a friendly “Hi, how are you today?”. When we go inside they are friendly and always provide my kids with a free lollipop. They even added a Post Office inside. Who do you think gets my money on a regular basis and with very little effort or money on their part? The one that gives more than I expect. What added value can you provide that will increase your “Wow” factor?
React to the customer’s needs before they know they need it. Instead of selling what you want, sell what the customer needs. How do you know what they need? Take time to talk to them. At a minimum talk to your best customers and learn from each one you’ve lost. Find out what they would like and what their challenges are. Stay current on market trends in your industry.
8- Leadership vs. Management
Empower your staff to manage themselves. Do you really want to spend your time problem solving? Train them well. Make sure they know the vision of the company and they are on board because there is a personal win in place for them. The personal win gives the employee motivation to cooperate as part of the team.
9- Well Oiled Machine vs. Chaos
Is each section of your business operating efficiently while working together towards the common goal? Or are the members of your team expending time and energy daily putting out fires. What change can you make to shift your business out of crisis/ problem-solving to operating with ease?
10- Develop YOU!
Take a minute to hold your breathe. As you hold your breathe think about what you really want. See what happens. Unless you are uniquely talented you probably had trouble thinking about what you want....because your needs were not being met. When you take care of yourself... feel strong, healthy, happy, and have time and space in your life...you can focus on what you want and attract more to your business.
Take one step at a time and build a strong, solid business. Along the way build lots of reserves...time, money, space, revenue sources, future products, etc. and begin filling the gap to your potential.
Today’s Dare to Take Action Challenge: Focus on one tip above for one week. What changes can you make? Take action on one, build momentum, and move on.
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