What hat must I wear today?
This question is one all small business owners ask themselves each day (ourselves included). And with each day, their decision will determine if they’re business is on the path to mere survival or to a thriving and sustainable future.
With 1.17 million employer businesses in Canada at the end of December 2015 alone, it’s important to know that 97.9% of these were small businesses, ranging from 1 – 99 employees. The difference between those businesses who are surviving versus those who are thriving? Their willingness to invest in their business and their people, particularly in five key areas. In other words, the business owner knows what hats they must wear…and what hats they can delegate.
If you’re looking to take your business from survival mode to thriving mode, read on to discover what small steps you can take to start thriving.
Your Thriving Business Survival Tips
- Marketing Plans
Marketing for any business is such a large endeavor. For this reason, you constantly need to be reviewing your marketing plan. During your business year – or month for that matter – you get buried in the forest and forget what you started on with regards to your marketing. By consistently reviewing your marketing plan, you see if your efforts are focused on the market that you wanted and the specific objectives you had set.
As a business owner, the fundamental thing should know inside and out is whether you are achieving the desired margins in your sales.
One hint? It’s completely normal for businesses to raise their prices at least once a year. Simply ask yourself if you’ve done this in the past year. If not, ask yourself why, then, raise them. As to the percentage for raising your prices, pay attention to your industry, your competition, and your customers. This will provide insight into your specific industry, market, and geographical area as to what the “norms” for price increases are. While it’s easy to continue on as before with the pricing you have, this will most likely keep you in survival mode (and eventually full on stress mode).
- Your People, Your Assets
Any business, whether small or large, has one main asset that does not change from industry to industry. This is the people of the company. No matter what, your people will always be your biggest asset. In a small business, this may only be 1 – 2 employees (or contractors, for that matter), but it’s important that you don’t forget them. Put some effort and resources into developing them so they continue to be a stronger asset for your business.
This can be as simple as supervising, training, and motivating them. Not only that, but when you’re not at the shop (whatever your “shop” is), you need to feel comfortable and confident that your people are able to keep you in thriving mode.
- Inventory Management
You inherently carry more risk if your business manages inventory risk. Why? Carrying product brings with it logistics and management that needs simple and effective processes, otherwise, this can really hurt your business. Not only that, but there are costs to stocking and carrying the inventory until it sells.
Other things to consider with products: if you’re getting a cost increase from your supplier, you need to react quick enough to ensure you’re recouping the cost on the sale of the item from your customer. This sometimes needs to be monthly. Why? Any time there is an increase to yourself, you need to assess whether you’re going to pass the increase on to your customer. If not, you need to know how you’re going to cover these additional expenses so you don’t inadvertently hurt your business’s bottom line.
- Business Finance Review
One of the top things you can do to help your business thrive is to understand your business finances. Even more important is making sure you’re working with accurate and real-time data to support your business decisions. If you don’t have accurate accounting records and you’re reviewing your finances monthly (as any business owner should), you’re more likely to make the wrong decisions for your business. By investing in proper bookkeeping software (or even bookkeeping services), you’ll be able to review and understand your financials and feel confident that your decisions are supported by your financials. Without the empirical validity, your business becomes a nonsensical process!
If there’s one thing we can’t stress enough it’s that no business owner has ever been able to do everything themselves. Those businesses that thrive recognize that they need professional help at some point on some topic, whether it’s accounting, marketing, operations, business management, and so on. You cannot be afraid to reach out for support in helping your business thrive. Take an internal inventory of yourself and your business and honestly answer, “where am I just surviving where I could be thriving?”
Not sure how to start noticing where you could thrive? Give us a call at Priority Business Solutions. We’re here to listen, guide, and support you as you go from survival mode to thriving mode.