There is no single way to make your business successful; instead, multiple factors are at play. Each of those factors will impact a different part of your business.
Taking care of the admin, the setup, the team, and the other processes are essential to giving your business the best chance of survival.
Looking at the statistics can make many small business owners shudder; new and established businesses need to close every year.
Sometimes it’s due to financial mismanagement; other times, no finance comes in to be mismanaged (i.e., no sales).
So what can you do to lay the foundations of a successful business? And try to avoid some of the regular traps that other companies fall into.
If you are way beyond the setup, then great, but it can still help to look at the foundations of your business. Who holds which seat, and how do they treat the role.
After the director, you can choose to have a range of other official bodies to manage different parts of the business. Shareholders are typically optional but can be of incredible value.
A role that many people forget is the role of the company secretary. The company secretary maintains all of the most important documents and the day-to-day admin: board meetings, AGMs, and more. Interestingly many businesses are looking to hire a company secretary from a company rather than in-house because it is more cost-effective.
Make sure you have made the correct business formation for the activities that you intend to do too.
Most small businesses just begin to scratch the surface of their potential market research. Market research, when done correctly, is invaluable.
While you can have a rough estimate working knowledge of the market – unless you have the data to back it up.
And it isn’t just one set of data you need. You ideally should have data covering all of the following:
- Market trends
- Existing competition
- Ideal customer
- Expected growth
- Demand for the product
You can define your business goals and create your four Ps when you have all of the data. Price, promotion, product, and place.
If you want to be more thorough (and why wouldn’t you), then you may choose to work from the 8 Ps –
- Product – what you sell
- Price – the value proposition for the market (how much people pay, discounts, and free options)
- Promotion – your marketing
- Place – where your product will be purchased, be sold, or used
- People – who can help launch the campaign
- Partnerships – other companies you can work with, or other alliances
- Packaging – how the product looks on the market (think Apple with the unboxing experience. Read more: Why Packaging is Important For Small Businesses)
Hiring the right team
The right people working on your business doesn’t just happen – although it would be great if it did. Instead, putting the right team together depends on a few factors.
If you have the budget for it, you should aim to get the most qualified, passionate, and innovative people on your team.
What should set your business apart from others is that you have in-depth onboarding experience, using Agile HR onboarding software.
The onboarding process will set the tone for the rest of the team members’ time at your company. Typically an onboarding process is designed to get your new team member from starting point to a knowledgeable team member.
If you don’t need a full-time staff, you are in a great position to hire and try out different freelancers.
One of the biggest downfalls of a company is they don’t take care of their team. There is no faster way to reduce morale, produce poor results and lose valuable members – than to neglect to take care of them.
Do you have a growth strategy? What does that look like? Are you on track? There are hundreds of tools to help you to streamline your processes and optimize each area of your business.
But if you are using the wrong tools, or perhaps no tools at all, your business will become stagnant.
If you are using tools, you don’t need to stay with the right one if it doesn’t seem to give you the results you want.
How to select the right tools:
- Highlight the areas that need the tools – try only to choose one at a time, so you don’t overload yourself and your business with new processes
- Know where you are already using tools (so you can look for integration and synergy)
- Shortlist some tools, between 2-5
- Begin to test the functionality and if the tool has everything you need
- Create a comparison of how much the tools cost vs. how much the tool saves in terms of time – what is the actual ROI here?
- Don’t opt for tools that aren’t scalable.
If you don’t have any tools at the moment, you are in a fortunate position – you can build your stack precisely as you require it.
You have likely encouraged both CX and UX everywhere. Back in 2013, it was predicted that CX would be one of the most critical differentiators from 2020 on.
Perhaps as a reflection of the hyper-connected time we live in, the customer experience and the impression customers have mattered more than price.
The customer experience should be designed and defined to get the most enjoyable experience from start to finish with your company.
73% of customers have listed a great customer experience as something they are willing to pay more for.
UX comes into play, too, because the user experience on your website should be smooth and enjoyable.
Of course, both CX and UX skills, and the more you know about how CX and UX work together, the better.
A final note on the customer experience is that there should be an open feedback loop at all times. It should look a little like this:
Feedback > Listen > Act > Products Results > Feedback > Listen > Act > Produce Results
Repeating forever. ‘Act’ may not always require action; the feedback may be on something outside of your control, but how you handle the situation won’t be forgotten by the customer.
No matter what industry you are in, it will be moving at speed. Learn to navigate the changing waters rather than get caught in a riptide and washed out to sea.
You and your staff will need steady development throughout the time they are with your company. This may be personal development learning, new training in different business areas, creative thinking improvement, or new policies within the market.
Learning doesn’t just come in the form of direct teaching. Allow your team to test theories and ideas, go to talks and conferences.
Investing in your team means you are more likely to retain them for longer and see an improvement in their work too.
Finance is the most obvious place for businesses to fail, making it one of the most important places to focus efforts.
It cannot be stressed enough that having a professional do your accounting and taxes will save you a lot of cash and worry.
But further from that, you should learn business money management too. Business finance is more complicated than personal finances.
Running a business does have its challenges, and other people can’t teach some things, but rather the experience itself. So when it comes to learning how to make your unique business a success, there will be a lot of trial and error – and then the success.