Over the years, I have met a lot of small business owners who have been frustrated by low profits, lack of growth, the stress of business demands and the perceived lack of resources available to them. While every business is different, there are several common denominators. In fact, there are approximately eight.
Marketing Your Business
- Target marketing. Do you have a strategy to reach your potential customers (dealers, homeowners or business owners) with your sales and marketing efforts? Or do you rely on someone else? A shotgun approach and/or relying on word of mouth is too expensive and inefficient for any company, especially a small or mid-sized one.
- Advertising, Marketing and Attending Local Events. There are many choices for where to place an ad and how to execute a marketing campaign. Ineffective advertising, marketing or public relations can be a waste of financial investment and opportunity. If you are doing things the same way you did 10 years ago, it may be time for a change.
- Hiring and onboarding. I can’t think of anything more important than hiring the right people, especially right now. Great hiring is a skill that frequently is not the strong suit of the typical business owner. Do you have a hiring process or playbook? Hiring by trial and error is a costly, painful way to build a team.
- Operations. Training, standard operating procedures, forecasting trends, support, recognition, systems, key performance indicators, follow-up, the details, etc. Is your company getting the job done? How do you measure success? Are your customers happy? How is your employee turnover? Where are you recruiting employees from? Are your employees happy? Would they tell you if they weren’t? Do you have people who tell you the truth? Have good people left your company for more money? Have they left for less money? That is frequently an indication of other problems that may exist.
“Train your people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson
Accounting and Finance
- Basic Accounting Practices. Many successful companies have gotten into big trouble by neglecting accounting until it is too late. Accounting is about more than paying taxes and making payroll. It is about data, communication, information, insight and control. Great accounting may not make a business successful, but poor accounting can destroy a business (big or small).
- Pricing. Like “sleepers” in fantasy football or baseball, this is the “sleeper” on this list. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen small businesses either put themselves out of business or never make the money they should have because of poor pricing models.
- Financing. Most businesses need some kind of financing. Whether it comes from investors, banks, credit unions, factoring or even credit cards, there is a lot to know and understand. This is another place where a good accountant can be extremely helpful.
- Any one of these topics could fill a book, and leadership is no exception. Let me count the ways: vision, direction, inspiration, accountability and support. It is similar to management, but they are not the same thing. As I have come up through the ranks over the years, I have found that leadership gets easier if the proper people are put in place to run the business, manage the projects and more. When a company is smaller, the leaders have to manage and lead. It’s not easy doing both simultaneously, which is why I suggest finding a coach or mentor, someone you can trust to bounce ideas off of and hold you accountable.
Lastly, as I often do in my blog posts, I always leave you with the most important part below.
Trust and Love the Process – For your team, be motivational, inspiring, passionate, tough, yet empathetic. It all starts and ends with being a good coach and positively impacting your team, on and off the job, the field or the court.
“Lead – Follow – or Get Out of the Way” – Lee Iacocca
Be Resilient – Add Value – Stay Healthy – Deliver the Experience - Trust the Process!
To our success,
“Coach” Rob Balfanz, Senior Director, Workforce Development, VSI