Running a business is a challenge, and success does not come easy, nor is it guaranteed.The degree of competition for your consumer’s dollar is fierce, and majority of business owners work damn hard dividing their efforts between running their business and generating sales to build their business. More often than not, growing a business using this hands-on, hard-work approach affords very little time for a holiday, much less, time to explore efficiency improvements.
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Unless a strategic change is made to re-position your business to leverage opportunities with less effort for equal or larger returns, the hands-on, hard-work grind will continue.
Cleansing your business and building a well-oiled machine begins with examining how you do business, starting with the following questions…
1. How does your business differ from the competition?
Don’t be a sheep – If you are one of a number of businesses offering the same products and services then it is only a matter of time before your customers gravitate toward the cheapest price (which will equate to more effort for less return). Focusing on what your business does better than anyone else or carving a niche within your existing industry can shift your customers focus from price to something more experiential.
Consider The Shaver Shop vs. Dollar Shave Club – The Shaver Shop sells products readily available from retailers, department stores and supermarkets, whereas Dollar Shave Club has focused on a single product – Great Razors, One Low Monthly Fee, No more forgetting to buy your blades. A shift in focus enabling this start-up to experience phenomenal market growth with an industry that many would argue as saturated.
2. Are you systems orientated?
As a business owner you will likely fulfil many roles within your business, systemising your business processes will ensure those roles required for the day to day running of your business remain manageable and do not take you away from the important task of growing your business.
A systemised process will also provide a benchmark for efficiency improvements as more time becomes available or as the business expands and new team members are brought in to support the growth of your business.
With clearly defined business functions, software applications that can automate these processes become easy to source and can deliver efficiency gains at a minimal cost as your time grows more valuable.
3. How connected are you?
Technology improvements are minimising the gap between small and large business, remaining connected is essential in a society where instant gratification is still not enough to satisfy clients.
To quote Sun Tzu “To rely on rustics and not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.” With timing of critical importance the success of your business hinges on the cohesive performance of all areas of your business including, but not limited to advertising performance, customer inquiry handling, production, inventory management, cash flow, logistics, order tracking, customer satisfaction reporting etc. Many of these business functions can be managed with a handful of clicks or completely automated requiring less effort for your business to output more.
There is no shortage of technology options that can deliver productivity improvements for business, a great article on Integrating your Smart Phone with your business for Productivity Gains includes plenty of examples and depending on your business requirements, an ‘off the shelf solution’ or customised application can be sought.
4. How would you rate your online identity?
The internet has had a huge impact on a customer’s decision making process, providing instant access to service providers and information about pricing, availability, alternatives, promotions and so much more. With online activity such a heavy influencer on customer purchasing decisions, reviewing your online presence is a must.
An out-of-date website, empty blog and neglected social media accounts will slowly poison your business. If your website is difficult to navigate or is not responsive to the multiple devices your potential customers are using to investigate your business, it is unlikely you will even be considered for their business. A case study by Marketing Sherpa found that a website redesign for one company resulted in a 21.6% increase in conversions. Regular website updates and content additions can keep your businesses online presence relevant and at the forefront of your consumer’s investigations.
An up-to-date website, done right, will deliver more inquiry for the same (or less) advertising spend.
5. Are you leveraging your Strengths?
Use your size to your advantage! Being a small business means you can react far quicker than your larger counterparts who have to negotiate red tape and internal bureaucracy before shifting to meet changes in the market place.
The more you know about your customers and market place, the better chance you have at satisfying their needs and building loyalty. Simple questions can provide you with invaluable information.
Smaller businesses benefit from flatter business structures and smaller teams, make use of your face time with clients to deliver personalised service that large faceless corporations could never compete with. Building a strong relationship with your customers will reduce price sensitivity, reduce advertising / marketing costs, reduce client acquisition costs and shift the focus to more important experiential factors that will keep your clients returning and referring.
The Bottom Line
Continuing to work harder for diminishing returns means you eventually there won’t be a business. A concentrated effort is required by business owners, with the involvement of staff, to determine what strategic shift is required to transform a business to deliver greater returns from equal or reduced effort.
Where to start?
Talking to the professional team at Key Technologies will ensure a cohesive approach, combining I.T. with Communications experience to deliver a truly integrated solution for your business.