Some Less Common Tips for the Small Business Owner

By Randall Orser | Small Business

Being aware of your competition is important to every entrepreneur. Competitors are everywhere and come in all shapes and sizes. Some are immediately recognizable, and some may be just sitting back and watching your progress. Some may be huge multi-national organizations who want to make sure that they retain their market share.  You need to develop a competitive edge to keep you in the game and to achieve your goals, here are some ideas. 

Put Yourself in Their Shoes 

Some businesses do not take the time to make themselves familiar with their customers and their needs.  A customer may have a long history with a company, so the business does not take the time to discover how this relationship can be improved and made more profitable for both parties. 

Do not let that happen in your business!  Continually place yourself in your client's shoes. Find out what you can do to improve your business relationship. If you give your client suggestions and alternatives that will improve their business, they will be most likely to support your business.  Looking at things from the client's perspective will also help you to detect anything that could cause issues down the line. 

Your Team Is as Important as Your Plan

A great business plan is essential to your success as are smooth operations.   These provide the blueprint for your business and should be utilized as checks and balances to make sure that your company is progressing as planned. 

Some business owners can get over-confident and may start to cut corners by hiring poorly qualified staff who do not follow company procedures. This can do a lot of damage to your company’s reputation and relationships with your customers resulting in a loss of business. 

Well qualified and well-trained staff are a crucial part of your business. They understand the company and work to maximize every opportunity to improve your business.  In addition, savvy specialists can help you to create new ideas and refine your procedures. 

Not All Clients are Worth it 

The mission to find more customers can drive entrepreneurs crazy, not because they are difficult to find but because they can turn out to be more of a liability than an asset to your company. 

Clients who are hard to deal with or request difficult or impossible things from you, can make you feel that the income from these people does not justify the amount of time and effort put in to work with them.  Usually you're right - customers that cause difficulties for you or your employees are best left to other companies. If you lose these customers your workers and you will be less stressed.

In addition, staying away from troublesome customers can help your business’s image. Positive company values will increase your reputation with clients and prospective clients and you will be seen as a good company to do business with.

Understand and Nurture a Good Company Culture 

All companies need to have policies in place regarding the standards of behavior expected from their employees, usually in the form of a company handbook given to new employees. Always be aware of any issues arising concerning your employees and understand how to solve conflicts that may arise. An encouraging working environment is important for the happiness of your employees and the success of your company.

Always Tune in to Your Customers 

Entrepreneurs can be become totally absorbed in their own ideas for their products and their company.  They may not appreciate criticism as they believe that they know best. However, they are not looking at things objectively, it is important to be flexible and to listen to your customer. You need to respond to any requested changes and to what your customer really wants rather than what you think they want.  Be open to input from others, tune into your clients and work with them to satisfy their requirements. 

Plan Ahead for Growth 

Getting to a point in your business where your growth has outstripped your projections is a fantasy for some entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, this can mean that they are not prepared when they do achieve success.  It is like winning the lottery, they may have huge plans, however the majority of these plans are not feasible.  You can't wing your way through expansion you need to be ready by making plans at an earlier date. 

You need to consider what expansion means to you. For example, does it mean moving to a different location, and if so is this convenient for your employees and customers?  All companies need to develop a framework and procedures for future expansion. It's never too soon to get ready for a splendid future! 

Market Size Matters 

Financial specialists and investors who are an important part of any business which is looking for capital, are not as worried about what your business does, as they are with the benefit potential. 

They need to know how much of a market share you could get, and that will determine how much they will agree to put resources into your company. Your projections may be fine and dandy, but you need to able to prove that your business has amazing potential in order to raise capital. 

Remember that company size is relative. The more specialized you are, the greater chance that you will have of gaining a bigger market share in your field. If you are a big fish in a small pond you will not have to work so hard to gain clients and be successful in your venture. 

Whenever Possible, Focus on Timing 

Numerous companies have bombed due to poor planning. A good business plan can be difficult to do but is very necessary.  For example, you may already have a lot of clients, but it is easy to lose them, so you need to make sure that your advertising and marketing is continually attracting more.  Your initial business plans may need to be revised as your number of customers increases. Make sure that you are reading your financial reports regularly so that you are always prepared with the information that you need to make changes. 

These are not the most important things that you will need to do to succeed, but they can be a helpful addition to the information you may already have.  It is not easy to start and run your own business, yet it's not impossible. Continue to be aware of your competition and how it may be affecting your business, and search for ways in which you can improve your own operations.  Having your own business can be difficult and unpredictable at times, yet it can be justified by the rewards and the satisfaction that you achieve.

 

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About the Author

President/CEO Number Crunchers® Accounting Inc. Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.