Running a business is no walk in the park, much more so during the holiday season when Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas shopping may make up the bulk of your business.
We compiled six things every small business owner should know to succeed—from new technology to bits of advice entrepreneurs wish they had been told before they started their businesses.
Things Business Owners Should Know to Grow Their Business
1. Business Apps Can Be Your Best Friends
There are tools and resources to automate or outsource administrative duties like payroll and human resources, such as QuickBooks for accounting, Sage for payroll, Slack for communication/collaboration, Wunderlist for task management, iCal or Google Calendar for calendar management, and LinkedIn Recruiter or Monster for talent recruitment.
Find the tools that suit your needs and take advantage of the automation benefits they offer.
2. It’s a Numbers Game
The financial health of your business is critical to its success. If you don’t already, you should have a business plan and regular budgets that account for line items such as administrative and selling expenses, rent, employee wages, and other overheads.
If you constantly find yourself tight on cash, it’s time to rethink how you conduct business. Cash problems usually stem from:
• Low gross margins because of discounted prices or unchecked direct costs
• High overhead
• Credit policy that’s too liberal
• Ineffective collection strategies
• Money tied up in inventory
When experiencing cash-flow squeezes, pinpoint the causes and find ways to correct them.
3. The Right People Make All the Difference
Hiring the right employee is key to running and growing a business, as well as cultivating a strong company culture. While there’s no fool proof way to make certain a new hire works out well for a company, there are certain qualities the perfect employee/candidate possesses:
• Work ethic – works hard, sets goals and achieves them
• Social intelligence – interacts well with other people
• Dependability – willing to follow through and commit to completing tasks on time
• Communication – communicates clearly and understands that miscommunication can lead to things going from bad to worse
• Adaptability – adapts to changes when necessary, instead of blindly resisting them
• Positivity – creates (or contributes to) a positive work environment
• Motivation – works effectively even with little supervision
• Team spirit – collaborates with other team members
4. Don’t Forget to Plan for Contingencies
Even a thoroughly thought-out plan can fail. As such, it’s wise to always have a contingency plan for when things don’t go as expected. Situations requiring one include:
• Fire, flooding, or earthquake
• You or your most valuable employee becoming sick and unable to work
• A theft
A contingency plan will prevent panic among your employees. Of course, having a plan is not enough. For it to work, it should be communicated with everyone involved. When your employees know what to do in times of crisis, they don’t need to wait for instructions and can respond to the situation quickly, which allows your business to keep running and minimize production loss.
5. Delegate Your Way to Growth
You can only do so much, and even if you think you’re better off doing certain things than delegating, it’s best that you focus on what you do best and bring more value to the business.
Delegating the right tasks to the right employees ensures tasks are accomplished on time and work gets done even when the business owner or manager is not around. It also sends the message that you trust your employees, which, in turn, will make them trust you, increasing productivity and engagement down the road.
6. Make Customer Service a Way of Life
Your customer service says a lot about your business. People will see your product or service as good or bad depending on how you treat them. Treat your customers well and they’ll surely come back to do more business with you. Treat them poorly and they’ll speak unfavourably of you, which, needless to say, will be a disaster for your brand’s reputation.
That said, ensure that your employees deliver the best possible service at every customer touch point.