According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Business Employment Dynamics, about 50% of businesses that have employees will manage to keep up through their fifth year of running. And in their 10th year, all that drops to just 30%. That could be quite heartbreaking.
But then, if you do what the 30% surviving businesses do differently, you would increase your chances of running a surviving business even after 20 years. Making constant efforts to improve your small business is not negotiable for your sustainability and success. You need to keep up with the trend on social media, know your own area of strength, keep close track of your cash flow regularly, get help in areas you have little or no strength, and focus on continuous improvements on aspects your small business where you get the biggest results.
You may want to keep a handy checklist to keep yourself reminded of these 10 basic ways to improve your small business:
1. Set Business Goals
Setting business goals is a compulsory activity that would aid your business success. You will be able to measure your progress and keep a score of the state of your business. Follow the SMART acronym in setting your goals.
What are SMART Goals? This means that you should set goals that meet the following;
S – Specific or Significant
M – Meaningful or Measurable
A – Assignable, Attainable or Action-Oriented
R – Realistic, Relevant or Rewarding)
T – Time-related, Time-bound or Trackable
Setting SMART goals will help your goals become a reality. You will become more productive doing extensive thinking on your decisions.
2. Keep Score Of Your Finances
Many small businesses that failed refuse to keep accurate daily, weekly, and monthly score of their business finances. It is of great necessity that you keep current with your cashflow. And if you think you aren’t skilled in handling your financial records, then hire an accountant. But then still keep yourself on the flow of things.
3. Connect To Your Business Community
When you support your community the benefits come back to your business. As an owner of a small business, employ ways to impact back to the community where your business runs. You can volunteer for tasks, sponsor a non-profit organization, host a fundraising drive, and more. Be part of local events and highlight your customers, or solicit feedback.
4. Create Your Brand Personality
You may not be able to afford to have a face of your venture, but you have ‘You’. Keep it simple and be the face that your customers want. They would rather choose someone that is real and can be easily engaged and connected to. Your valuable resources – your values, vision, authenticity, and heart – gives you an edge over other small business owners.
Invest more of yourself into the business. You can do this for your online business by creating an instructional video, write blog posts in your own language, or speak at an event. Your website’s ‘About Page’ is a nice area to harness for your customers to connect to you directly. Share your vision, tell them why you created the business, and share your values.
5. Avoid Making Common Mistakes
One of the great ways you can improve your small business is to avoid making common mistakes other owners of small businesses do. Here are some five errors small business owners of make which you should also learn from:
i. Not taking account of costs that seem negligible. When you get a piece of equipment or rent an office for your business, the cost seems pretty obvious to be ignored. However, costs such as incorporation costs, research expenses, business insurance, borrowing costs, permits, dues, licenses, taxes, subscriptions, graphic design, and most importantly the time you invest can be easily overlooked. When you do this, you risk running out of funds without even knowing quickly, or you purchase things you do not need.
ii. Diving into a densely competitive market. A market that is already oversaturated will demand you to put you so much to get tangible results.
iii. Overestimating demand for a particular service or product. Reach out to your family and friends to help you vet your ideas. You may also consider having primary market research.
iv. Not putting up a profit model. Don’t allow this huge mistake when running your business. Plan to make profits. Take your net margin, gross margin, and projected financial goal into consideration. You will be able to measure the performance of your small business by putting these numbers based on Key Performance Indicator (KPIs).
6. Make Your Employees Matter
Your employees are the running engine of your business. Their skills matter so much to keep your venture relevant to your customers. When your employees’ happiness comes first, you will be able to scale up your small business and have a reliable innovative team.
Motivate the different players of your network by building their trusts, giving them a purpose and life to their work impact, and also congratulate them on jobs they do well. Improves more ways to achieve this with your employees. This will make them your biggest fan and advocate while also speeding up your business growth.
7. Carve A Niche For Your Business
If you really want to be ahead of your competition, then stand out in the niche you target. Ensure that your target is within an established industry. Here are some guides to help:
i. Define your knowledge base or industry.
ii. Break down your wide market into a very focused and specific niche.
iii. Test your specialty by engaging the SPAN method. SPAN is Subtopics, Pain, Attainable, and Numbers.
iv. Educate and advocate in your niche area via your content.
v. Get your stuff before your customers or audience.
8. Secure Your Cash Flow
This is one of the undeniable attributes of succeeding in your small business. Your cash flow matters a lot to how your business is sustained. As a business owner, you must be well-disciplined in managing your personal finances, and the cash flow of your business. Here are some measures you should take for positive cash flow in your business:
i. Cut down avoidable expenses.
ii. Speed up on receivable collections.
iii. Extend your schedule of payables.
iv. Ensure your inventory levels are adjusted.
v. Possibly put in for a bridge loan to fill in for immediate cash flow.
vi. Create a cash flow plan for your business. This can span for between six to eight weeks to be able to avoid issues on your cash flow.
9. Do Competition Analysis
When you analyze your competitors, you will be able to know what is working for them and put away things that aren’t working, so as to improve your small business. This analysis will give you a clear view of your customer’s weaknesses and strengths. Hence, you’ll be able to improve your markets by focusing on your own strengths.
10. Get Organized
Being organized and staying organized is one thing every business owner must learn. You must be able to complete your tasks and stay ahead of your schedules. You can begin by creating a to-do-list. Stay focused and do not leave any crucial thing behind.
Here are ten ways to improve your small business and step up your venture to weather challenges most businesses are faced with. You will also love to see more ideas here.