By Beth Tabak
"Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value." Albert Einstein
I once heard that the majority of small businesses operate at 60% of their potential. While unable to obtain the source, this seems accurate or maybe even high. The Small Business Association reports that, "two-thirds of new employer establishments survive two years, and 44% survive at least four years." Read on for 10 tips to help you develop and grow a strong, solid business foundation.
1. Solid plan with a clear simple vision. Think of the impact you would like your business to have in the world. Think big! You may never reach your ideal vision, but the vision itself is so grand that your team can get excited about it, and it sets you up to be unlimited. Then back up. Look at what needs to happen to get there. Create a solid plan with realistic short- and long-term goals that are achievable.
2. Focus on profitability vs. revenue. While revenue is important, high revenue does not add value if your expenses are just as high. What can you do to create more profit? Begin developing various streams of income. What expenses can be reduced or eliminated? How can you operate more efficiently? Think profit.
3. Work "in" and "on" your business. We get so caught up in daily tasks "in" our business we forget to step back to take a wider view from the outside. See it through the customer's eyes. Look at how it fits into the community. Prepare the future of the company. On the other hand, we can get so comfortable working "on" our business from a planning or management standpoint that we forget to step "in" to talk with customers, handle details, and experience what the employees face daily.
4. Automate and create systems. What do you need to automate? What system can you put in place that would free up your time or make you more money? What tasks need to be eliminated, systemized, or delegated? What system would help your employees be more effective and provide the best service? Is there a system that needs to be upgraded? Automation and systems help your business be consistent and efficient.
5. Consistent marketing plan. Marketing expert Jay Conrad Levinson of Guerilla Marketing said, "I hate to admit this, but mediocre marketing with commitment works better than brilliant marketing without commitment." It is important to have a marketing plan in place that is consistently and persistently carried out on a daily basis, not just when you need more customers.
6. Increase value to your customers. Give more than customers ask for and more than they expect. There are three convenience stores by my neighborhood. I visited the first one regularly and was satisfied. I visited the second a few times and had to wait every time I checked out, so I haven't returned. Every time I got gas at the third store I was greeted over the intercom with a friendly "Hi, how are you today?" They were also friendly inside and provided kids with a free lollipop. They even added a post office. Who do you think got my business on a regular basis? The one that gave me more than I expected. What value can you provide that will increase your WOW factor?
7. Innovate. React to customers' needs before they know they need it. Sell what the customer wants, then give them what they need. How do you know what they need? Take time to talk to them. At a minimum talk to your best customers and learn from each one you've lost. Find out what they would like and what their challenges are. Stay current on market trends in your industry.
8. Leadership vs. management. Empower your staff to manage themselves. Do you really want to spend your time problem solving? Train them well. Make sure they know the vision of the company and that they are on board because there is a personal win in place for them. The personal win gives employees motivation to cooperate as part of the team.
9. Well-oiled machine vs. chaos. Is each section of your business operating efficiently while working together toward a common goal? Or is your team expending time and energy putting out fires each day? What shift would move your business out of crisis/problem solving to operating with ease?
10. Develop YOU! Take one minute to hold your breath. As you are holding think about what you really want. See what happens. You may have had trouble thinking about what you want because your needs were not being met. When you take care of yourself and feel strong, healthy, happy, and have time and space in your life, then you can focus on what you want and attract more to your business.
Take one step at a time to build a strong, solid business. Along the way build lots of reserves ... time, money, space, revenue sources, future products, and more, and begin filling the gap to your potential.
Beth Tabak of www.StartingNowCoaching.com is 100% committed to small business coaching and personal life coaching. She coaches big thinkers to be unlimited, stand out in a crowd, and experience the vastness of their abilities. Stop by to see all that is available to you, or connect with Beth through social networking.