Managing a small business takes much work, but the rewards can be outstanding if you pour your heart and soul into it. Freedom of control, profitability and an overall general satisfaction with what you do are among the benefits of managing a small business. Here’s how to help your business thrive.
1. Join your trade association. What better way to connect with people in your industry than to join your local trade association? That association should be composed of your competitors, suppliers and ancillary businesses. The association may prove to be the best networking opportunity for your enterprise.
2. Explore your payment options. Never give your customers an excuse for not getting payments to you in a timely manner. Cash flow can make or break your business, but you may have obstacles in place that impede timely payments. Besides cash and credit cards, a PayPal account or other online instrument can expedite the payment process for your customers.
3. Find discount travel deals that reward you. If you travel frequently, then work with a specific airline, hotel and car rental company to provide you with the best deals. These companies reward loyal customers with the best rates and should also provide you with incentives to continue using their services. Discounted or free flights, complimentary hotel stays and vehicle upgrades are among the benefits loyal customers receive.
4. Diversify your customer base. Where does your business come from? If you rely on one customer or a small handful of customers too much, then it is time to diversify your customer base. An over reliance on one customer can harm your business, especially if that customer suddenly has a change of plans and your business is not included.
5. Turn criticism into a learning opportunity. Some small businesses chafe at criticism with the owners taking such critiques personally. Instead of resisting or ignoring these criticisms, take them to heart and learn from them. Certainly, the delivery may be unpleasant, even excruciating, but the lesson learned can prove invaluable.
6. Master your service and price won’t be as important. You may already benchmark your services and products to the industry’s leader, but competing on price alone is a losing proposition, especially if you cannot possibly price match. Instead, improve the service quotient and you can gain an edge that even your top competitor does not have.
7. Turn your inventory rapidly. Keep your inventory thin and invest your funds elsewhere. Specifically, develop a “just in time” inventory system to keep that inventory lean. Work with your suppliers to have your orders better timed to coincide with your needs.
8. Constantly look for new business. How much business can you handle? Likely, there is always room for one more customer, therefore, be ready to reach out to them at banquets, trade association meetings, through your existing customers and by other means. Assemble a database to track customer interactions and use that as a lead generator system. Carefully monitor your customer base, replacing your more taxing customers with better ones.
9. Ask for referrals. Play the referral game wisely. Know when to ask customers for referrals and when to refrain from that asking. If the company has a subsidiary business, ask for a referral to that business’ contact.
Your small business is in a constant state of flux. Always maintain an eye on improving your position and you will enhance your business operation. Endeavor to bring your business to the next level and success will be at hand.
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