01Focus on Customer Service
According to a survey conducted by American Express, 78% of consumers have cancelled or not made an intended purchase due to . Other studies have shown that it takes several positive customer experiences to make up for one negative one.
Given that loyal customers are much easier to sell to, make a priority. and make the changes that need to be made to ensure that your small business is , whether it be investing in , revamping your , or basic improvements such as responding promptly to voice mail or email from customers.
02Build Word of Mouth for Your Business
Whether you operate your business in a small community or in a large urban center, is more important than ever for business. Most consumers turn to the net to search for reviews of businesses before deciding where to shop, so building a good reputation is vital to the success of your business.
How do you ? By providing good, professional service, building and monitoring your local (and online) reputation, and by giving back to your community by supporting/ local organizations and charities.
03Expand Your Marketing Efforts
Effective marketing is key to increasing your sales, but you don't have to . There are many inexpensive ways to market your products and services, including:
Involving the newspapers in your grand openings, moves, or charity events.
Giving free workshops or classes related to your products/services.
Developing business partnerships and .
(yes it can still work!).
Advertising your business on your vehicle with a vehicle wrap.
04Build Your Online Presence with a Business Website and Social Media
I always feel like I’m shouting into the wind when I write this, but . I know, I know – you don’t have time. But nowadays and your small business needs to be in the online space; Surveys by Ipsos MediaCT and Accenture indicate that before buying in a store (The Globe and Mail).
A simple that describes who you are, what you do, and how to contact you will suffice for many small businesses. At a minimum, your site should contain:
- A summary of what you do - your products and services
- Your contact information
- Your address, including a Google Map link
- Your , e.g. "We make the best pizza in town...."
- Testimonials from customers
Depending on your , social media can be a great way to promote your business. To get started with social media see .
See also , , and .
05Cut Your Business Costs
Despite government claims of "low inflation", business costs for everything from office space to vehicle expenses seem to be always on the rise, so keeping expenses in check is a crucial task for business owners.
Keeping track of expenses is time consuming and tedious, so wherever possible use technology to make the job as easy as possible. For example, there are a number of mobile apps for expense tracking, including some of the newer that allow you to automatically add expense information into your accounting system by snapping pictures of receipts with your mobile device.
Annually or semi-annually review your major costs, such as office space, business insurance, staffing, and . If you are in an area with abundant available commercial space, think about relocating, or if you don't need a storefront convert to a .
Review your major supply costs regularly and always look for discounts or ways to pool supply purchases with other businesses to save money. Make reducing expenses part of your job description, and involve your employees.
For more ways to cut business costs see .
If you do nothing else mobile-wise this year, you need to make sure that your online presence, including your , is mobile friendly, as ever-increasing numbers of people are surfing and searching with their phones – .
But there are two other trends that your small business could really profit from. The first is . There’s a whole range of mobile-specific strategies you could be using to reach your target market with great effect, from and mobile display ads through having an app designed for your own business.
The second is mobile payment systems. The choices for your small business are really expanding as Apple Pay and Google Wallet join the field previously dominated by Square, Intuit GoPayment and PayPal. is getting into mobile payments. Using phones to pay is a significant convenience to customers but your small business could also realize considerable savings from being able to use a .
07Use the Cloud
There is no doubt that has leveled the playing field for startup businesses, but the for “ordinary” established businesses is not always discussed.
Cost savings and access from anywhere are the biggest advantages to moving some of your business processes to the cloud. If, for instance, your business changes from a desktop to a , you would no longer have to install desktop software (saving IT costs for installation, backups, etc.) and you can access your business accounts from anywhere, including from mobile devices (in fact, most small business accounting software vendors have moved to the cloud and no longer offer desktop software).
There are some too, of course, but if you haven’t starting using cloud storage and/or applications yet, make this the year that you at least investigate its potential.
08Find and Keep the Right Employees
Attracting and retaining the right employees is one of the most important things you can do with your business. While hiring and training employees every other week might be business as usual for a fast-food restaurant, most successful businesses rely on hiring quality staff and keeping them for the long term.
For information on attracting the best employees see , , and .
09Update Your Business Plan
You did before starting your business, right? Right? , including and securing or .
If you haven't made a business plan it is not too late. Successful established businesses update their business plan annually to review accomplishments (or lack thereof) and decide on .
The financial health of your business is summarized by , and , which are contained in the . From these you can determine ways to make your business more profitable by and/or reducing losses or cutting expenses. If you want your business to be more successful you need a plan for how to get there.
10Wealth Is Useless Without Health
No one goes to the grave wishing they had spent more time in the office. Too many business owners sacrifice their mental and physical health, family relationships, and friends in pursuit of their .
Don't be one of them - find an acceptable level of . Getting enough sleep, taking time for family and friends, and getting regular exercise will help you stay healthy and allow you and your business to prosper over the long term.
11Make This Your Best Year Ever
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s this; success is not a given. If you want your small business to be more successful this year, you need to make the necessary changes to bring that about.
That work may be as simple as investing in a new tool or as difficult as changing your thinking about some of your business processes. But you haven’t brought your business this far to just let it stagnate, have you? Here’s to your best year ever!
How to Make Your Small Business More Successful
Feeling like you’re treading water with your small business and not making progress towards your goals?
Or are you having trouble to work towards this year in the first place? We all want to be successful owners of profitable small businesses, but how do you get there from where you are?
If you want your small business to be more profitable than ever before, here are some suggestions for how to make it happen. And remember; building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint!