Super Imperative Step #1: Understand your finances
This is extremely important for the health of your business. As a growing and mature business, your #1 priority is to be diligent about your finances. Financial management is more than just generating revenue and raising capital, but looking at how you can yield the greatest return on investment or ROI.
According to some experts, the NUMBER ONE reason that businesses fail is due to lack of control over finances. Some experts suggest reviewing your profit and loss statements, balance sheets and cash flow reports on a monthly basis. To manage this, there is accounting software such as QuickBooks specifically for small businesses. Also, hiring a CPA or bookkeeper can be a wise investment. I personally suggest a very informative book, “Nonprofit Bookkeeping and Accounting for Dummies” by friend and author, Sharon Farris.
Super Imperative Step #2: Diversify Your Client Base
I’ve seen it too many times… small business owners who start a business because one or two people promised to buy from them. Relying on a few clients as your main source of income is a recipe for failure!
What are you doing to get diverse clients? You should be thinking of ways to diversify your offerings. To do this, consider how your product or service could be targeted to a different industry.
For example, when I launched my first business, a commercial cleaning service, I targeted small ‘mom and pop’ businesses. As I learned the industry, I expanded my services to include county and state agencies, condo associations and franchises (I won a bid to provide services to over 30 Super Cut stores around San Diego County). In addition to cleaning, I also added carpet cleaning and floor care. Could you also expand your products or services? I bet you can!
As a business owner, you should always be marketing your products or services to build your client base. A sluggish economy is NO reason to slow down your marketing efforts. Diversify or die!
Super Imperative Step #3: Network religiously
One successful way to promote your business is by networking. Simply put, networking is relationship building. It is a lifestyle in which you need to incorporate into your “To Do” list. By networking, you are developing your social skills by engaging or interacting in an informal gathering to communicate with others for mutual assistance or support. By acquainting yourself with other business owners, you are building meaningful relationships.
A great way to organize your networking efforts is to brainstorm businesses that you can potentially collaborate with. These are businesses that you can share referrals with or target as potential clients.
You are in business to grow, so make networking a key part of your marketing strategy so that you position yourself to connect with the right people.
Super Imperative Step #4: Keep an eye on your competitors
Do you know what your competitors are up too? Do you stay abreast of their new marketing campaigns that could create some buzz? Well? It is vital that you make it your business to know what they are offering or changes they are implementing that could potentially take business away from you.
Truth is, with the state or our current economy, some of your competitors will be forced to downsize or worse, close their businesses. Unfortunate for them, but an opportunity for you to gain new clients! Be prepared to market your products or services to these ‘jilted’ clients. Regardless of the economy and the demise of your competitors, people and companies will continue to buy. So, why not from you?
Super Imperative Step #5: Learn how to delegate
As your business grows, so should your ‘tight grip’ on controlling every aspect of your business. The worst thing that you can do is become a slave to your business. This attitude can cripple you! I know this first hand; as a former owner of a building maintenance company; I was president, HR generalist, payroll specialist, trainer, janitor, sales woman and more! It took me a while to realize that not only could I not effectively wear every hat, but in order to grow and regain my sanity, I had to trust others. It is important that you delegate non-core business tasks to your staff or consider outsourcing. Play on the strengths of others.
If you are concerned that tasks won’t get done efficiently, try putting processes in place to evaluate your employee’s progress. Allowing them to handle certain responsibilities will make them feel more valuable to your company. Just remember, the lack of delegation will stifle your growth, or worse, cause you to run your business and yourself into a pit fall!
Super Imperative Step #6: Get on the social media bandwagon
Social networking is serious business! Many businesses are taking advantage of the internet as a business tool. Social media is a great way to leverage your products or services. It is an easy and inexpensive way to connect to people around the world and an opportunity to make friends with people who have similar interests; find solutions to problems they might have by collaborating with others; and attract clients that might need your products or services.
More and more small businesses and non-profit organizations are climbing aboard the social media bandwagon to market themselves for free. It just makes good business sense to learn how to leverage social media to build communities around brands and then leverage them into revenue.
According to a recent survey on online social networking by the Institute for Corporate Productivity:
- 65% of business professionals use some form of personal or professional social network
- 47% use social networks to connect with potential clients and market their skills
- 55% use social networks to share best practices with colleagues
In closing, it is important to stay focused on ways to grow your business. By taking these steps, you will be prepared to handle sustained growth and increased sales revenue now and in the future!
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Sylvia Browder is CEO of Browder Consulting Group, a virtual small business consulting and coaching firm. She is currently employed as a Project Director, business coach and consultant for the Women’s Business Center, Inc., a non-profit economic development organization with a mission of empowering women to start and grow successful businesses. She also serves as a volunteer SCORE counselor, an organization dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. She is also a Technical Assistant Provider for SBA’s Community Express Loan Program. For FREE weekly articles go to Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women Entrepreneur’s, www.sylviabrowder.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org..
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