There are over 30 billion small businesses in the United States, some of them are successful (like yours), but over 20% will close in a year. You do not want to be that one in five unable to improve your small business. There are certainly little secrets to survival specific to each type of business, but it’s no secret how to fail. Some don’t have the essentials — like a realistic budget. Some are much too young. Statistics showed that if you’re under 30, your business is more likely to fail. There are other more significant predictors of failure. A majority of small businesses that fail in the first, most critical year, usually have an unhappy trio of defeating characteristics.
One characteristic of a person who ignored the “improve your small business” advice, was that their product or service was ambiguous. We sorta, kinda sell used cars. Not a good motto for a small used car dealership. Not something that should have been advertised. Another failure-guaranteed characteristic was that the business had a chaotic infrastructure. Please call during business hours. Is not the voice message customers want to hear when they are calling during your business hours. Do you think clients will recommend you to their friends after not getting through?
Lastly, and most importantly, the main characteristic of a failed small business is the guy (or gal) at the top wanted to be at the bottom. Leadership is tough. But in order to start a small business, you need to be willing to take the credit and the blame. You need to be available and flexible. Whether it’s a new trend or a new employee, your small business needs to change and improve every day. Below, in reverse order, discover eleven small (and not so small) ways to improve your small business.
11. Low cost, but effective marketing
Don’t be afraid, use social media. Even if you don’t have the time to chat all day on Facebook, you can still use social media presets like HootSuite. This app is a social media tool that allows you to schedule and post announcements and alerts to all your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and if you blog, WordPress. It’s also a great idea to improve your small business by hiring a college student as a webmaster. The intern or summer help can keep your website up to date, user-friendly, and e-commerce interactive. Many college students are inexpensive to employ and sorry to say, more tech-savvy than you.
While you’re at it, have the college kids utilize their internet knowledge to set up an account for your small business on YouTube. You can post little sessions on the account that will attempt to “teach” your potential clients how to do something like, perfectly frost a strawberry cupcake. Small five-minute presentations are powerful ways to communicate your expertise, your business and build your reputation.
10. Get good employees
Hire good people and keep them. These days, in order to keep your hires happy, make them comfortable, and purchase each personal protective gear—like a personal safety shield, not to be shared. Another part of this is to keep your building up to code, install or update your fire sprinkler design. If you are looking to hire, you might find word of mouth is much better than Indeed or ZipRecruiter. You’re going to need someone local, reliable, and, of course, trained in your business. Or at least find someone who is trainable. With recruiting websites or hiring firms, you may find someone who is an expert, but not so close. You’ll have to pay for travel or moving expenses. You’ll be out that cash when your new recruit turns out to be a no-go.
9. Take care of your customers
This one is pretty obvious, but the good news is that there are small things you can do to improve your small business. Companies with a customer experience mindset drive revenue 4-8% higher than the rest of their competitors in the same industries. You may have the nicest staff and the most interactive website, but if your front door gets stuck or your parking lot is still unpaved, it can prevent your local clients from entering your establishment.
Like any house, your commercial property needs regular attention. A well-groomed front lawn, a scented candle, flowers in a vase on the front desk, a clean waiting room can help improve your customer services faster than a rabbit on espresso. While curb appeal goes a long way, you still need to remember all little things remember to answer the phone politely return messages quickly, answer your emails efficiently and keep your offices or store clean. Even if means the office restroom is in good shape. Complaints about your non-flushing toilet? It’s time to call in commercial plumbing services. These professionals will make sure that your restrooms are up to code and functioning.
8. Connect and network
You can follow many people on social media but don’t discount the face-to-face and handshaking aspect of business. Even if your clients are unable (or unwilling) to meet in person, you can still have meaningful encounters. Invest in software that allows making video connections like Zoom meetings. You can also create your own webinars and video tutorials to post on your website. These free or subscriber-only offerings can help put your image in a controllable social platform. On the flip side, look into joining organizations in your area of business so that you can reach out to leaders in your industry. If you’re a baker you can share cake stories with experts by signing up for Zoom webinars. The hints and expertise can aid you in becoming better at your craft. It may also allow you access to classes and certifications to make sure you are on top of your craft. Or at least meet the people who are.
7. Location, location, location
Has competition moved in and made things tough? It’s been a difficult time for many folks all over the country, whether they’re starting out or keeping family businesses afloat. In order to improve your small business, is it time to say goodbye? Maybe now is the time to move to a small business-friendly area or state. Taxes, overregulation, and stiff competition can break your business. Before you start packing, take into account your target location’s regulations, discounts, and restrictions as well as any special taxes or tax breaks. Maybe your current location is not safe. Were you broken into at your current location and the commercial glass experts weren’t so expert? Although you may want to move now, you still need to think about safety. Retail crime increased by 11% in 2018 compared to 2017. This means investments into security cameras add that safe feeling for clients and employees. Signage and alarm systems increase deterrence no matter where you want to settle your business.
6. Pay your bills
You can do your own accounting and be an absolute whiz with Quick Books, but to improve your small business, it pays to have a professional do your bookkeeping and tax preparation. It doesn’t matter if you are small (under 10 employees) or large over 100, you are going to need someone to do your payroll and quarterly taxes. It’s sensible to make sure you’ve got an expert performing the important daily financial tasks it’s also a good idea to have a financial advisor. Invest in someone who can guide your small business through the hairy entanglements of profit and loss evaluation, insurance, investing, and safeguarding your future. Since your small business may be family-owned, you’ll need to make sure that your business won’t harm your family’s finances and vice versa.
5. Customize your widget
While not every small business uses robotic technology or assembly line capabilities, metal fabrication contractors can customize any metal part or structure of an existing element. Is your baker’s oven door not fitting into your oh-so-tiny kitchen? Are your industrial sinks not draining quite right? Is the small part on your widget in need of some serious welding you just can’t do? Many of these problems require a knowledgeable metal expert trained to perform manual labor. These metal magicians can improve your business’s precision and efficiency with simple fixes and in turn, improve your small business overall.
4. Think outside the box
Small business owners are often left in the dust when compared to online-only stores. Don’t think that you have to choose, you can have both. But you have to make sure that your online store is as comfortable and inviting as your physical location. It might be prudent before you re-design your website to re-evaluate your business’s physical appearance. Does it look welcoming? While you might think that to make your physical location appealing and inviting, you may use up your cash reserves you don’t’ want to dip into right now. Maybe all you need is are some updates to your exterior. A fresh coat of paint, new siding, or a new roof. Best to call in a commercial roofing professional.
Unlike residential roofers, commercial roofing contractors are able to improve your small business roof while making sure any commercial codes or regulations are met. Not all roofs are created equally and not all have the same maintenance needs. Make sure your roofing contractor dos a full inspection before giving you an estimate.
3. Give back to the community
As a small business, you are often nestled within the community—you know your neighbors. And you’ve got a good understanding of the needs in the area. Why not donate to the local food bank, sponsor a Girl Scout troop, or find a pet shelter that could use an extra hand? Or find a local charity of your choice. And give. Give happily. Drop off funds and food, show up at a cookie sale, and drop off a bag of puppy chow. The goodwill this can bring you is priceless; the customers it may bring you are quantifiable. It’s not like you need to be calculating about your philanthropic outreach, but as a small business you solidify your reputation. In the future, if your business is struggling and things look bleak for you, these are the people who will support you because you supported them.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
One of the best ways to improve your small business, is just keeping things in order. Computer files that are accessible to your tax accountant, contact info for your vendors, or keeping a list of emergency numbers on your busines cell phone. Organization means getting all your ducks in a row. Fend off the headaches before they become major headaches. If your IT guy stuck in a traffic jam, and can’t access your frozen computer make sure you have a backup plan (computer and IT guy). If you live in a wintery climate, keep your business’s entrance and exit clear. And make sure your parking lot is in good shape all year round. A commercial paving company can tackle any damage that has occurred due to wear and tear, weather erosion or an overzealous plow truck. They may be able to provide ideas about how to make your parking areas more employee- and client-friendly.
1. Defend yourself
Every once in a while, you have to fight back. Small businesses are often incredible goldmines, creating unique products and intellectual material. Unfortunately, where there is gold, there are gold diggers. A successful idea or item may attract predatory elements who take advantage of vulnerable small businesses. These industry gold diggers are only interested in making money by ruthless attacks on your business.
To improve your stability and improve your small business in general, you’ll need to vet and hire a product liability lawyer. These attorneys can protect you against lawsuits of those who falsely insist that a product you created hurt them or their family. There’s certainly a possibility that a defect or poor design in your product did indeed hurt someone, with product liability lawyer protecting your business from significant loss, complete bankruptcy, or ruin.