Do you own a small business? A majority of owners believe the only way to expand their business into a medium or large company is through injecting large amounts of capital. This is true to some extent. However, there are aspects that require your individual effort, rather than money.
Here are 12 tips that will enable you to take your small family business to new heights.
1. Focus on the brand
Your brand isn't just defined by a corporate logo and slogan. It includes the general feelings and ideas felt by customers, employees and suppliers whenever they hear your company's name. A brand that stirs positive emotional responses dominates the market, no matter how much money customers have to pay for its products or services. iPhones are costly but still enjoy global commercial success. This is because Apple is associated with high-quality hardware, brilliant phone features and secure software.
2. Improve your feedback channels
When you’re constantly in touch with your customers, you’re in a better position to respond to their needs. Encouraging your consumers to share their feedback also highlights your product’s strengths and weaknesses. You can incorporate a Live Video Chat feature on your website, where visitors and customers can ask questions or relay feedback and receive instant responses. Businesses that maintain active social media pages encourage consumers to communicate freely.
3. Ensure your employees are all on board
As the director of a small family business, it is your duty to clearly define your brand’s goals. Clear-cut goals are easy to attain. After writing down these objectives, make copies for your employees and then develop strategies on how to get them emotionally invested in the brand’s success. Developing an emotional attachment enhances harmony among employees. They will also feel able to approach you whenever they need guidance.
4. Be innovative
Business is dynamic in nature, and today’s secret to success could easily become obsolete after a year. You may owe your current and previous success to a cherished production technique passed down in your family business from one generation to the next. Perhaps it could be a set of marketing tricks you learned five years ago. But what if you woke up one day, and realized there was a new entrepreneur who was about to steal your consumers with a better product or service?
Seasoned entrepreneurs know all too well that success is not permanent. Long-term success requires an open mindset that can formulate new strategies based on current consumers’ tastes, and anticipated needs.
5. Be open rather than secretive
A majority of small-business owners prefer keeping their operations under wraps out, of fear of exposing vital trade secrets to their rivals. Nowadays, consumers demand in-depth, unfiltered information about the products and services they frequently use. In order to fully satisfy their curiosity and captivate their loyalty, you may be required to disclose your ingredients, plus behind-the-scenes information.
6. Minimize overhead expenses
Do you wonder where most of your sales revenue disappears to at the end of each month? Incurring high overheads often eats into your business' profits in a significant way. It's necessary to minimize monthly overheads by making adjustments to your day-to-day operations. For instance, you can opt for a virtual office if your daily operations involve plenty of traveling and field work. This will help you avoid rent expenses, and then you could purchase larger stock quantities.
You could opt for mobile broadband internet, rather than fixed DSL connections that come with hefty installation costs and monthly subscriptions. Consider replacing outdated computers and office electronics with modern green-energy compliant electronics that run on less power, yet still deliver according to your expectations.
In today’s market, consumers favor a brand that offers everything they need in the same store. Apple developed iTunes to provide a rich variety of apps to iPhone and iPad owners. Despite its reputation for manufacturing pocket-friendly motor vehicles, Toyota still produces a variety of luxury saloons and SUVs to satisfy high-end consumers. Your ability to effectively cater for all or most of your consumers’ needs determines their loyalty to your brand.
The risks associated with diversifying into a new product or service may seem high, but the benefits are totally worth the effort.
8. Travel to gain exposure
You may be good at producing a certain product or service, but there’s someone out there who can do it better than you. Successful entrepreneurs are already aware of this fact. This is the reason why they frequently travel to different cities and countries in order to learn from the best. In addition to learning, they establish long-term mutually beneficial networks with their teachers, and accomplish much more than they could have attained if they remained firmly rooted in their city.
The success you desire may require you to do some traveling to gain much-needed exposure.
9. Avoid dependence on debt
It’s not unusual for a small business to experience turbulence as a result of inadequate capital. Borrowing money to stabilize your business operations may be a suitable option if you can repay it on time. Some owners, however, have a bad habit of relying on loans and various forms of credit to sustain their businesses’ daily operations. At the end of every month, these small business owners get frustrated because a huge portion of sales revenue is used to clear debts. The little amount left after clearing debts cannot fully sustain recurrent expenditure for the following month.
If you really have to borrow money, make sure you use it to expand your business. The additional sales revenue generated as a result of expansion will outweigh the initial costs.
10. Enhance your corporate image
In business, image is everything. You may have the best product in the market, but you still need to package and brand yourself in a way that best appeals to your target market. Do visitors and consumers feel convinced about your products after visiting your website? Do your employees carry a professional aura in the office every day? These questions will help you shape your corporate image in the right way.
Potential consumers will take you more seriously if you have a trained receptionist answering all phone calls with utmost etiquette. If you cannot afford a full-time receptionist, hire a virtual assistant since he or she can still answer your calls and schedule appointments as per your instructions. Consider hiring a professional website designer to renovate your DIY website that looks more like a blog than a corporate website.
11. Have long-term strategic plans
A strategic plan is like a map that shows you exactly how to achieve your brand’s goals. Writing down a 5-year strategic plan helps you to identify all the available opportunities that you can exploit to enable you to attain your objectives. This process will also give you better insight into the challenges that block your path to success. Sharing your long-term strategic plans with your employees provides you with an opportunity to hear new perspectives that might be of great value.
12. Hire professionals to cover your weaknesses
One common mistake made by a majority of small-business owners is the habit of doing everything on their own. It’s impossible to deliver satisfactory results in all aspects of your business because all humans have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. You may be an expert at designing compelling posters and promotional videos, but when it comes to accounting there’s nothing to smile about.
When you hire employees who are experienced in areas you struggle with, you’ll have more time to focus on your strengths.
The growth you desire for your business is actually closer than you think. You won’t need to borrow money to implement the 12 tips highlighted above.
Did you go from small to big? Let us know your story, or ask us your questions in the comments below.