Just what you needed, right? Eleven more things to think about.
Relax. There’s no finger wagging or scolding coming, just friendly reminders of some of the universal truths of growing a successful business.
You’re likely doing a lot of this already. If you’re lacking somewhere, put together a plan to shore-up the weak areas.
- Improve your customer’s condition. Always. Your customers expect something from you – a particular service, a product, or maybe just access to your brains or talents. That’s why they came to you. Or maybe you found them. Regardless, they had better get what they need or they’ll find it somewhere else. The best indicator of a satisfied client is that they keep coming back for more. But be sure to ask for consistent feedback to ensure that you’re hitting the mark.
- Improve yourself. Don’t let your talents stagnate. There are more opportunities – both highly structured and very informal – for professional development than ever. It’s not necessary to literally go back to school, but a workshop, a seminar or even a good book related to your field can keep you sharp and refocus your energy.
- See the big picture. It is never okay to not know what’s going on. Maybe you came up through the ranks and built your reputation in sales or manufacturing or finance, but as the owner you need to have at least a working knowledge of every major facet of your business. Obviously, you have to delegate, and need to trust the people you assign to key roles. But being aware of the big picture will also help you uncover opportunities for revenue growth, cost-cutting, and better overall efficiencies.
- Pay your taxes. Yes. And it’s generally cheaper when you pay them on time.
- Hire people different than you. Or at least hire people that have strengths and skills you don’t. Are you bad with numbers? Consider hiring a receptionist or office assistant with bookkeeping experience to help you wade through bank statements. Are you shy by nature? Look for an extrovert next time you need to fill a position. Talented, motivated employees bring energy to your cause. And mixing personality types – assuming they’re qualified employees – can do wonders for your office chemistry.
- Elevate your profile. You must. Join professional organizations and seek a highly visible leadership position. Offer to write a guest column for a trade publication or industry website. (Hire a ghost writer if you don’t have the time.) Send media releases to relevant news outlets when you’ve secured a major contract or completed a significant project, but be sure to clear it with the client first.
- Know when to say “no” . The customer is almost always right. Accommodate where you can, but don’t let unrealistic customer requests hurt your bottom line, throw you off schedule or damage employee morale. If you must go beyond reasonable expectations, make sure your client knows you’ve made special arrangements to help him out and take steps to make sure you are fairly compensated on the next contract, job, or order.
- Plan for retirement. Easier said than done, especially when business is tough. Fortunately, there are numerous retirement plan options for business owners that are fairly easy to arrange, and most offer attractive tax incentives. It’s never too early to start – or too late, for that matter. Some plans provide “catch-up” options which allow contributors of a certain age to make larger tax-advantaged contributions than their younger counterparts. Start small if you must, but get going. Consult your financial planner or tax advisor to determine what kind of plan is best for you.
- Understand cash flow. Maybe you’re not a numbers person. Or maybe you are…then skip to number 10. In any case, you need to have a handle on how much cash is coming in versus what you’re paying out over a certain time period (month, quarter, year). Cash flow issues lead to more business failures than any other problem facing small businesses. It doesn’t matter how good your services, products or people are, you need to have positive cash flow to stay around. There are many off-the-shelf software programs that can help you make fairly accurate forecasts. If cash flow problems are chronic, consider an invoice factoring program that will get your receivables into your account faster and provide more predictable income streams.
- Use technology appropriately. Technology is there to serve you, not the other way around. Don’t make a career out of making sure you have the latest version of everything. As long as you’re current enough to meet your customers’ expectations in terms of delivering service and communicating with them, you’re fine.
- Pay yourself. Last, but definitely not least. There are substantial risks and sacrifices associated with running a business, so you would be foolish to not feel like you deserve the potential rewards. These include a comfortable lifestyle for your family, a reasonable amount of discretionary time, and a sense of security regarding your future. You deserve no less. If your business does not hold the potential to provide all this, then reevaluate your processes and make necessary adjustments.
MP Star Financial can help make your business more efficient. MP Star Financial’s invoice factoring services allow you more time to run your business and grow your company.
Call MP Star Financial for more information at (800) 833-3765, extension 150.