Running a business can be a process of juggling and keeping all the balls in the air at the same time. For small business owners this can be an exhausting and frustrating exercise, leaving little time for strategic thinking. To make business development easier, focus on the five key areas applicable to pretty much any business:
- Your product or service
- How you market and sell your product or service
- How you deliver and finance your business
- How you handle Human Resources
- How you handle Customer Service
If you proactively manage and report on all these areas, you will find life less stressful. There will be less crisis management i.e. dealing with things before they become a problem rather than after.
Being great at sales won’t help you if you take your eye off the ball with delivery and finance. Your business could struggle with unhappy customers who won’t pay.
Being the best inventor of products or services won’t help, if you don’t focus on marketing and selling. Your fantastic product will sit on the shelf collecting dust.
To stay sane in business, you need to get systems in place to proactively manage these key areas. You probably can’t handle all of them yourself, so you need to employ people or outsource.
Product and service development.
The area that we find most business owners have difficulty to delegate or outsource is product and service development. But you can train others to take over in time. It’s easier to achieve if this area is well documented and systemised.
Marketing and sales.
This is generally pretty easy to delegate or outsource. Marketing is experiencing a massive shift at the moment with digital marketing and social media, and getting in expert help to decide on your method, message and delivery is vital to staying competitive.
Having a well-tested and documented sales process is vital, ensuring you achieve a good conversion rate and make the most of your marketing spend.
Good systems for handling operations and ensuring productivity will go a long way to improving profits and reducing rework and returns. Understanding the ‘key success factors’ in your business, helps you to focus on what’s going to give you the ‘biggest bang for your buck’.
If you sell products, a system for handling stock is vital to ensuring you have the right amount of stock at the right time. If you sell services, a system for managing staff time and materials is vital to productivity and profit.
This is the lifeblood of any business – profit and cash are the key elements. Cash comes from profit and profit comes from proactive management of revenue and costs. Timely and accurate reporting on both profit and cash flow, helps you to plan and take advantage of opportunities.
Running out of cash is a key reason for business failure, yet few owners manage it proactively. There’s plenty of help available and the cost pales into insignificance when compared to the outcome.
HR management is a stumbling block for business big and small. Very few handle it well and proactively. Industrial Relations laws may have scared some business owners into ‘risk management’ in this area.
It’s really about developing people and helping them to be satisfied at work. Satisfied and happy staff can make a business ‘fly’. Getting things done is so much easier when people are engaged with the overall objective.
HR is probably the most vital area of business, as it impacts every other area so closely. Happy staff create great products and services for happy customers who are happy to pay.
Google “human resource management system software” and there are lots of systems and guidance on how to provide proactive HR management.
Satisfaction here is a result of how well you manage all of the above. If cash is the lifeblood of a business and happy customers pay, then Customer Service is vital to business survival and success.
The very best way to gauge customer satisfaction is simply to ask them. Whether its wait staff at a restaurant who ask how the meal was or an account manager who calls a client to ask how things are going, it’s vital that someone does it. If you do it well, clients keep coming back and sales will grow.
It’s much better to get proactive feedback on how you can improve constantly, or to wonder why sales are falling when it’s too late.
If you can put in place strategy and find people and resources to help, it can make being in business very much easier and less stressful for all concerned. Importantly it puts your business in a position to grow and be less reliant on the business owner.