2017 is here! And although you’ve probably hit the ground running it’s definitely worth taking a few moments to think about ways you can increase your business’s bottom line as the new year rolls in. This is particularly important for new business owners because, according to the United States’ Small Business Administration, about 50% of businesses fail in the first year and only about two thirds will survive their first two years.
The good news is that there are many successful businesses out there, which means successful business models and great insights into avoiding closing your doors prematurely.
1. Simple Marketing Message
Before you do anything, decide exactly what service you will be providing or what product you will be selling and think how you would explain that to a child. Just because you have an elevated IQ, this doesn’t mean you can assume that your target market is on the same level, so ensure you have a simple marketing message.
2. Invest in Quality Communication Services
The ability to have potential customers contact you easily is an absolute must, and there are various ways of doing this. For a user-friendly telecommunications option, it’s worth looking at something like virtual PBX. A real boost for every modern business, these are inexpensive business VoIP PBX phone systems that allow you to make calls over the internet using data. They provide your business with accessible, mobile telecommunications which is perfect for small businesses. Maintenance is done offsite and they come with several business-friendly features such as auto attendants, call forwarding, unlimited call handling and voicemail that promote a professional image for your business.
3. Get the Right People
Don’t settle for paying someone less for a job because you’re not going to get someone who’s actually dedicated to the job. Pay people for the job they’re doing and get quality, committed staff who will promote your brand effectively. It’s worth taking the time to screen people, be really thorough in your interview process because, although there are lots of people looking for work, you have to find someone who can really contribute towards the growth of your business, rather than costing you time solving their problems or doing their jobs.
4. Adapt to the Changing Market
The explosion of technology in the past few years and continuous improvements year-on-year has made many people wealthy but also put an end to some tried-and-tested business models. Newspapers are most definitely feeling the squeeze with the rise of online news which is easily consumed in the form of social media, and without adapting to meet their readers’ needs, they are having to fold. Make sure you are aware of your competitors, keep abreast of what they are offering and keep yourself informed of ways to adapt to meet these growing needs.
5. Put your Customers First
Repeat business and referrals can be the lifeblood of a business. There are only so many people in the target market, so make sure your customers’ experience is a good one. If you make a mistake or miss a deadline, be quick to apologise and rectify the mistake, even if it means lowering your price, because once you’ve lost a customer, it’s highly unlikely that you will get them back.
6. Work Quickly
No matter what line of work you are in, nobody wants to wait unnecessarily. Don’t take on more than you can handle and make sure you reach your deadlines. The world is fast-paced and there are always other options available to customers so if you can’t deliver on promises, they won’t be hurrying back, no matter how well you do everything else.
7. Use your Networks
Nobody lives in a bubble and although it’s not a great idea to start pestering your friends and family to hire you, cultivate the networks you have built up in other professions. If you don’t have anything to work with, start developing relationships, either by physically going out and meeting people or joining an organisation dedicated to network building. Getting in contact with your local media and offering your input as a specialist in your field could elevate your company above competitors. Once a relationship has been established, make sure to keep regular contact, which can be done in a variety of ways.
8. Expand your Reach
Connected with marketing and, once networks have been established, use the tools available nowadays, such as email and social media. Look into establishing a newsletter as well as a Facebook business page and Twitter account (if relevant to your target market) but ensure these are checked regularly and updated with useful information. A website is an essential tool for any organisation now, but if you know nothing about website design, rather outsource this to a reputable company so as to maintain that professional image.
9. Invest in your Business
The mantra ‘you have to make money to spend money’ is certainly applicable to business growth. Initially, profit margins will not be generous, if they even exist, but money coming in should be directed towards business expansion. This is particularly true in the first two years. Investments will include reliable equipment and services, insurance, marketing and good employees.
10. Look to the Future
If you’re reading this article, then you’re already on the right track. Business planning means more than just looking at the next few weeks or even months, start looking years in advance and re-evaluating where you are on a monthly basis. As was stated before, you have to be adaptable so, although it’s important to have your plans in place, don’t stick to them rigidly without taking current conditions into consideration.
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