As a business owner, it’s important to look at your company periodically and figure out where you’re succeeding — and where you need to improve.
Whether your business is stagnating, struggling to be heard above your competitors, or just not growing as you expected, identifying the problem is the first step toward fixing it.
If you’re not sure how to bump your business out of its rut, here are a few things to consider:
Do you have standards in place?
From product quality to customer service and how you handle complaints, you need to have policies in place to ensure you and your team will meet your standards. This means that you’ll have to come up with quantifiable goals and guidelines your team will need to work with.
You can start by talking to your customers.
Conduct a survey and find out what areas your customers say you’re excelling at…and where they think you need some work. By listening to their feedback and putting policies in place to address them, you get your staff and clients on the same page — which can help boost your sales.
Do you have the right attitude toward customers?
Speaking of your customers, do you make your business all about them? Take a good look at your marketing materials, company website, and sales process. Is everything customer-oriented, laying out the benefits of your product or service and how they meet your customer’s needs?
Do all of your staff members understand that customers are the most important part of your business, and treat them as such? The way your team handles customers — especially difficult customers — goes a long way toward determining the success or failure of your business.
Do you have a cohesive branding message?
Do all of your marketing materials have the same voice, and convey your company’s vision and goals in a simple message?
Marketing is a crucial part of small business success. Striking the right chord with potential clients is key to getting them to make the first step toward buying from you. If your message is confusing — or worse, actively turning customers off — it will hurt your bottom line.
Do you have the right team?
Not all small business owners have a strong marketing background. If you’re unsure whether your efforts are getting the right results, you may need to consult with a marketing expert or firm for guidance. This expense may more than make up for itself in a more effective campaign that brings in new business.
Hiring the right staff is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your small business.
You can take some of the guesswork out of hiring by coming up with a concrete process for choosing new workers.
- What are the essential skills each team member must have?
- What experience do you expect them to have?
- Define your ideal worker before you start hiring to cut down on headaches.
You also need to know when an employee is just not working out, and it’s time to let him or her go. Firing a worker is never a pleasant task, but if his or her attitude toward customers or lack of initiative is hurting your business, it’s time to make that difficult decision.
It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what is keeping your business from achieving the goals you set for it. By taking the time to assess where your company was last year, and where it stands today, you may uncover some issues that are holding you back.
Identifying and fixing these issues now can help ensure that your business does better next year and beyond.
About the Author: Angie Mansfield writes on a variety of small business topics, including how to sell office furniture.