We have been inundated with advice to eat well for our health’s sake. But, what about five to ten tips to better health of our business? Shouldn’t that be as important to the business owner?
Five to ten tips to follow a day can reduce the risk of failure and ensure your business enjoys a long and healthy life!
Five Tips to Overall Health:
Prioritize and get things done.
When prioritizing, keep customers forefront (and suppliers, inventory, and staff). Without customers, where would you be? Complete tasks. Follow through. Finish paperwork.
Plan ahead (but be flexible) – Get Organized.
Keep your eye on the road ahead. Ensure that you (and your staff) focus on the business plan, the marketing plan, and your original vision. Ensure that marketing campaigns are done ahead of time (ideally, a year in advance). Budgets and buying plans should be completed six months ahead, as well as any open-to-buy for product for promotional sales. Staff schedules and training should be well organized in order to coincide with seasonal upswings.
Customers and Customer Service – It’s always about the customers!
Every business owner should prioritize any task that involves customer satisfaction. If you tell a customer that the product will arrive by the end of the week, then ensure that your promise is kept. If you tell a customer that you will call them, then ensure that you do. Broken promises do not impress customers. Always under-promise and over-deliver!
Nurture all relationships including staff, suppliers, those in the business community and in the media.
Reward your staff, motivate your staff and keep them in the loop. Join professional associations. Expand your communication channels. Get into the habit of mailing thank you notes to customers, staff, suppliers and those who have benefited your business. Pick up the telephone and have a one on one conversation. Stay in touch.
Core competencies – What do you do best?
To thrive in the marketplace, a business must excel in at least one of the following: product offering, customer service, promotional strategies (branding), price or location.
Reminders to not only keep doing what you do best, but initiatives to keep improving. Never lose sight of what distinguishes your business from the rest. Learn to identify your strengths and build on them.
Five More Tips to Overall Health:
Look after the details – it’s always about the small details.
Is the exterior fresh and clean? Does a brightly painted door welcome your customers? Is there a bench, an attractive door wreath, or an eye-catching window display that attracts new customers? Do you have an area for weary customers? Does your children’s store have a toy area for children? Do you supply customers with coupons if you have inconvenienced them? Do you greet your customers by name? Do you capture their names on your mailing list?
Look after the expenses – Pay your bills on time.
Send out invoices and request payment in a timely fashion. Eliminate unnecessary perks; eliminate waste; eliminate frills that are not important to the customer. Look for less expensive ways to do everything. If not sure where to begin…call your accountant. Better yet, read your expense sheet and cut costs by ten percent. Pay your bills on time. If possible, pay within ten days and get a two percent reduction for early payment.
Successful entrepreneurs are never satisfied with the status quo. They understand that to increase their share in the marketplace the business must grow: better product; newer technology; more effective website; more informed and knowledgeable staff; timelier shipping: better distribution channels; and so on.
Constantly change – re-invent yourself
A healthy business realizes that change is a constant; change will keep customers coming back. Customers will return to see new product displays, new demonstrations, and new content. Customers will brand your business – as a leader. Keep your customers delighted, inspired and motivated.
Old-fashioned principles are still true
Keep your business honest, reliable and trustworthy. Stand behind your policies – with no exceptions. Advocate privacy and honesty on your website and in print. Ensure that all practices value those principles. When a business values old-fashioned principles, customers will learn to trust that business and sales will follow. (There are some values that never grow old.)
You will know that your business is strong and healthy when you have difficulty prioritizing the above tips. Is change more important than principles? Are relationships more important than the bottom line? A business owner that puts the customer (and customer service) to the forefront understands that the suppliers, the product, the service and the staff make up the equation.
The most successful businesses thrive because their owners understand that all aspects of business must be healthy; one area cannot stagnate or be left unattended for the sake of another area. Because a successful business is a component of all best practices – each integrated to make the whole.
A healthy business will enjoy a long life…so integrate five to ten a day to increase your chances to survive. The life of your business might depend on it.