Running your own business takes a little luck and a lot of hard work. Knowing what aspects of your business deserve your most time and attention is key to not running in circles. It’s important to understand where your energy will reap rewards and where it will not.
Optimum Record Keeping
Neither the business owner nor the customer benefits from poor record-keeping, so don’t let yourself go down that rabbit hole. Create useful files and keep your paperwork organized. Set aside a time each day or week to work on record keeping so that it is always up to date. Searching through boxes of paper receipts or unnamed files on your computer is a waste of your time that could be best used elsewhere
Even if you run a Mom and Pop style business with an old-fashioned cash register and handwritten tags, there is no reason to make your life more complicated than it has to be. If there are systems that you can digitize like using a paystub generator or online inventory keeper, use them. You don’t have to give up all the charms of hands-on personalized service, just give up the unwieldy ones.
Set Long Term Goals
Your business might not be profitable for some time, but you can keep your eye on the prize by setting long term goals. Focus on where you want to be in six months, a year, and five years. Every month, check to see how you are doing reaching towards those goals. It could be that a few weeks are offset by a couple of great sales, so remember to look at the big picture rather than focusing on the negatives.
Outwork Your Competitors
Find a way to outdo your competitors and capitalize on that. They may have a loyal customer base, but by offering lower prices you might be able to slowly chip away that. They may have more locations, but your customer service could make the extra drive worth it. Excellent interactive websites are often the key to getting new customers. If your website is better and easier to use, why wouldn’t someone order from you?
Hire and Train the Best People
Whether your employees have PhDs or are sophomores in high school, hire the best people you can and train them well. Every employee should know how to interact with customers so that your business provides superior customer service every time and from everyone. For example, when you compare fast food restaurants on the quality of customer service, there is usually one that stands out in everyone’s mind. Why? Because their mostly teenage workforce is trained in politeness and exceptional customer service.
Putting sale flyers on car windows may seem like a good use of your time and money, but is it? Ask every customer who comes into your business how they heard about you to find out. It may be that your money is better spent on targeted online advertising on social media forums such as Facebook or Instagram. Instead of assuming that everyone gets their information the same way you do, do some research. You may be the last one in the neighborhood who reads the newspaper, so why advertise there if your money might be better spent on email marketing?
Aside from having a user-friendly website, think about what additional content you can create around search engine keywords that will drive business to your site. Many consumers like to research products online before buying anything, so the more times their search leads them to information on your website, the more likely they are to purchase something from you. You can try to create interesting content in-house, but many businesses prefer to outsource this aspect of their marketing.
Operating a successful business is a full-time job with so many moving parts that sometimes it’s hard to know what to do first. Start with your goals and then focus all your energy on achieving those goals in the most efficient way possible.