Most small business owners have very similar concerns about their business and keeping it successful. Here are some topics that concern many small business owners and some possible solutions:
- Finding New Customers and/or Clients
- Affording Health Care and Employee Benefits
- Keeping Existing Customers
- Paying the Business Expenses and Bills
- Hiring and Keeping Good Employees
- Keeping Ahead of the Competition
FINDING NEW CUSTOMERS AND/OR CLIENTS
- Develop a realistic marketing budget
- Build a great website which is optimized for phones and tablets
- Create a social media presence
- Identify and utilize tools for measuring marketing results
AFFORDING HEALTH CARE AND EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
- The Affordable Care Act – Effective September 23, 2010, small businesses that pay at least 50% of their employees’ health insurance premiums and have less than 25 full-time workers with average annual wages below $50,000 are eligible for new tax credits up of to 35% per employee covered. There are numerous sites on the Internet that provide discussions about the Affordable Care Act and its effect on small business. You should study and become conversant with these issues.
- To attract talent and effectively compete, offer health insurance, some life and disability insurance and probably a retirement savings plan. For specialty benefits–like vision and dental coverage, take time to understand what your current employees want and what they’ll be willing to contribute. Break the benefits world into three main categories: health care, retirement and specialty benefits. Next to health care and retirement plans, benefits like disability insurance, life insurance, dental and vision coverage aren’t nearly as important when it comes to attracting and keeping talented employees. However, having a choice does matter to employees. When you have defined the benefits package your employees are comfortable with, find a local agent with expertise in your industry to walk you through the details before you buy their offering.
- Use contractors for limited time projects
KEEPING EXISTING CUSTOMERS
- Focus on your best customers; 80% of business comes from 20% of your customers
- Involve your clients in your business decisions. See what they think of new directions.
- Always try to get feedback
- Empower your clients with information and provide them with choices
- Keep it simple; Under Promise and Over Deliver
- Quality first, best practices second
- Remember who the boss is
- Keep studying your industry and keep apprised of the latest changes
- Only make promises that you can keep
- Reward your loyal clients with something tangible (discounts?)
PAYING THE BUSINESS EXPENSES AND BILLS
- Hire people who can wear many hats. Find an administrative assistant who can make sales calls, or a data entry person who has a degree in graphic art design.
- Consider hiring an intern who can earn college credit.
- Try cloud sourcing your labor, where possible. Cloud sourcing involves hiring qualified professionals who work remotely for a fraction of the cost of traditional employees. Some of the best professionals post their portfolios on sites like Elance, Freelancer and oDesk, and you can hire them for a set period of time based on your specific needs.
- Look into Pool Purchasing groups for the purchase of all necessary products.
- Don’t buy in bulk – only buy what you need
- Eliminate finance charges, pay on time and try to stay away from loans
- Reduce your use of paper. 40% of prints are discarded within 24hours
- Use energy efficient appliances
- Use new advertising methods – Consumers need to hear your advertising message an average of seven times before they consider buying your product. And if you’re paying for traditional advertising such as print, television, or radio, your advertising budget can get very big very quickly.
HIRING AND KEEPING GOOD EMPLOYEES
- Always be on the lookout for talented people
- Specifically know the skills and personality traits you need
- Interview a lot of potential candidates
- Ask detailed and probing questions to understand your candidates
- Do they have a positive attitude
- Do they have high energy
- Are trustworthy and possess good character
- Do they feel good about themselves and life
- Do they take responsibility without making excuses
- Do they desire to keep learning and want to grow
- Are they are willing to follow the leader and work with the team
- Do they have a good track record
- Are they are capable of accepting change
- Check references
- Ensure your expectations are completely clarified
- Offer your employees an attractive compensation package
- Train and develop your people to their fullest potential
KEEPING AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION
- Know what your competition is doing and offering to clients
- Know the current needs and expectations of your customers
- Develop a service or product to set yourself apart from the competition
- Develop and sustain effective and affordable marketing and advertising
- Keep the image of the business fresh and new – update as necessary
- Cater to your existing customers
- Target new or undeveloped markets for your products/services
- Consider expanding your offerings
- Plan for growth and stay flexible to the changing market place