Everyone wants to have a successful company. This goes without saying. The measures we take, the steps followed, the general course we layout, are hopefully leading us toward growth and prosperity. However, there are things you may be missing, and practices overlooked that could otherwise help you to reach that pinnacle of success after which you are striving?
Below are ten practices implemented by some of the most successful small businesses. It’s not too late to start integrating these into your business’s today.
1. They Understand the Concept of Saving Money
In the beginning, especially, you want to do your best to run a “lean” business; meaning, watch that cash flow, count every dollar going in and out, plan for all relevant scenarios. You always, in some respect, want to expect the worst, so that you're prepared for it. This entails having the money on hand to deal with the unexpected.
Also, initially, you may have to forego the “fancy” stuff—you don’t necessarily need name brand furnishing or the latest in technology or even an over the top office space. There is nothing wrong with starting small. Minimize that overhead.
2. They Understand Their Finances
You’d be surprised how many small business owners don’t “get” finances. It is crucial to have basic knowledge, especially when it comes to your own company’s financial picture.
We’re not saying go out and get a degree in economics, but at the very least learn how financing does affect your company, try and understand concepts such as profit and loss, know how to manage debt and why this is a good thing!
3. They Get the Importance of Sales
From the onset, sales need to be at the top of your business agenda. Customers, after all, are what keep you in business, so you not only need to be able to attract them, but you need to have the capacity to close, you need to make that sale. Ingrain this mindset in your employees.
Even if yours is a fledgling company and you’re still working on things like branding and marketing, it doesn’t matter—start selling! You can tweak and fine tune to your heart’s content, but if you fail to sell, there is no company around which to create a brand.
4. They Have a Solid Marketing Strategy
Advertising your business, getting the word out there and building a buzz around your brand are all part of a dynamic marketing strategy. If you do not have this, then you are headed for a fairly dismal, uneventful end.
The best small companies get that marketing strategy nailed down right in the very beginning, right from the business plan stage. How are you going to reach those customers, how are you going to get them to take action and ultimately, how will you retain clients?
You will have to start by defining things like target audience, main demographic and even try and understand things such as purchasing habits. Also, make sure that a digital marketing strategy is at the forefront of your process.
5. They Know that Customer Service Counts
We live in a review-driven world, which means you cannot afford to underestimate the importance of excellent customer service. One or two negative reviews can demolish a new business.
Remember, that yes, the customer wants a good product and service, they want quality, but at heart, they also want to feel that they are being valued. This is critical. Make sure to train your staff in respect to best customer service practices.
6. They Have a Sound Business Plan
Never underestimate the value of a sound business plan. Think of it as a roadmap of sorts. You can drive aimlessly and get nowhere—or you can create a reliable map, follow it and get to where you want to go.
Additionally, if you are looking to get funding at any point, many lenders will want to see your business plan. It doesn’t have to be highly elaborate. It can be just a few pages as long as it contains the essentials such as marketing strategy, market share, competition, product integration plans, etc.
7. They Know Who to Hire
Your employees are the backbone of your small business. They keep the ship running, they keep operations in line, and they make the whole thing work. Without good employees, you will not get very far.
You thus need to have a handle on what positions need to be filled, what operational requirements your company has, and what sort of talent is required to attend to these things. Beyond that, you want to make sure that whomever you hire is on board with your company philosophy, mission, and overall vision. In other words, are they a good fit for your company culture? You are creating a team remember, and you want to ensure that that team works well together, that they get in sync with one another, that there’s an overriding cohesiveness.
8. They Don’t Underestimate the Competition
That’s not to say be intimidated by the competition—not at all. You want to be able to use your competition to your advantage. Know what they’re doing, keep on top of their latest product launches, marketing strategies, even website design. What is working for them? On the flip side, what could they improve? Also, then take this information and run with it. In the end, you want to be able to adjust your strategies accordingly so that you can stay one step ahead.
9. They Understand How to Adapt to Change
As the saying goes, change is inevitable. From customer habits to technology, to the competition, change is going to happen all around you. You need to be able to adapt, period.
Maybe you even need to rethink a product or service offering. Don’t be so dead set on one mindset or approach that you fail to realize the value of changing. Your ultimate success could very well depend on it.
10. They Learn from the Past
You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel. Who came before you? Were they effective? What worked for them? These are all viable questions and utilizing the knowledge you gain from previous companies in a similar industry is an incredibly valuable strategy.
Being successful is the sum of a lot of working parts. These strategies represent a foundation—what you do with them, how you build upon them can certainly help steer your small company toward a bigger and brighter future!