Thinking of starting a business or already up and running? There’s much to learn and know about running a business, and the effectiveness of how it’s run will determine whether it survives – not just whether your product or service meets a need in the marketplace.
It’s a tragedy if an otherwise potentially successful business fails due to being poorly run. Here are seven things to bear in mind to ensure you find yourself filling in plenty of deposit slips as revenue rolls into your company’s bank account:
Business is competitive in just about every field. And, you may have gone into your area of activities knowing there’s a demand for what you offer even though you’re up against stiff competition.
The key to succeeding in competitive marketplaces is differentiation – or simply ‘being unique’.
Finding a way of offering more than the competition or a way of interacting with customers that makes your offering stand out is vital. While you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel, it’s also important not to do what everyone else is doing – especially if you’re new to the market.
So, ask yourself: what can you offer that established competition doesn’t?
While you can’t (indeed probably shouldn’t) do everything or try to be expert in all things, you do need to be a quick learner.
For example, while you may use an accountant to take care of financial matters, you should at least know how to read a balance sheet, a cashflow forecast and profit and loss statement so as to fully understand your business’s financial situation.
Understand marketing trends and methods
Somewhat obvious you might think, but it’s vital not to leave your marketing activities on autopilot once in place. Running a business requires constant self-assessment and adjustment.
The Internet and social media offers various low cost and effective marketing options. These are evolving rapidly and constantly. It’s important to keep a finger on the pulse, so you’re aware of what’s open to you and consider changes if needs be.
Hiring skilled people
As said above, you can’t do everything yourself so take a leaf out of world famous businessman Sir Richard Branson’s book: he says much of his success lies in surrounding himself with people who are skilled experts in their fields.
So, whatever expert help you need, it’s worth its weight in gold to secure it whether an accountant well versed in businesses of your type, a skilled web designer, IT professional or whatever you require.
Listen to your customers
Business evolves and things change quickly, so get into the habit of properly listening to your customers to understand their needs and align your service to what they require.
Don’t just ‘do’ market research with a few half-hearted surveys; build proper customer research into your daily activities and focus on learning what their needs are.
Focus on important tasks
When running a business, it’s easy to become sidetracked on tasks that seem important but aren’t the best use of time and resources at the expense of those that are.
For example, spending protracted periods of time thinking up logos and business card designs may seem important for your branding and marketing efforts, but shouldn’t divert you away from revenue generation.
Outsource these activities; an expert would likely do it better and faster than you can.
Indeed, not only should you focus on business building tasks, but prioritize those that generate the most revenue.
Be a good manager
Even if you’re a one-person operation, you need to manage yourself and your time. If employing other people, you need to become a good manager fast.
Management is an involved skill of running a business. It’s unfortunate that many managers aren’t necessarily very good at it. Often they’ve ‘become’ managers with no real training or experience. For example, a top salesman may be rewarded with a sales management role, but their ability in sales doesn’t necessarily help them succeed as a manager.
Once you have staff working for you – or even outsourcers or a virtual assistant – people management will become very important to how well your business is run.