Running a small business can be extremely rewarding when done correctly, but it can also be a significant source of frustration. If you are a small business owner, it can be difficult to determine exactly how you’re doing. A perfectionist business owner might feel like they’re failing, when in reality they’re doing a great job and just need more time. On the other end of the spectrum, many business owners think they are perfect and fail to see the imperfections in their own companies. How exactly do you know if your company is doing well?
One of the best barometers of how well your small business is doing is the condition of your employees. Do you have a high turnover rate or are your employees staying for the long-term? If your employees are highly motivated and feel sufficiently challenged, that is a good sign that you’re doing well.
Happy employees provide better customer service and seem generally fulfilled in their roles. In an environment that employees are comfortable in, they will be free to express both praise and criticism without feeling fear of consequences. Conducting anonymous employee surveys is a great way to gauge how the employees feel about their work environment.
Are your customers happy when you’re done conducting business with them? Do they refer others to you and sing your company’s praises? If so, this is another great sign that you’re doing a good job. It should be easy for new customers to find you and it’s simple to do business with you.
If customers like what you’re selling, believe in the product, and tell others about you, this is the goal of any successful small business. Making a positive difference in the lives of your customers should be what you ultimately strive for.
If others seek out you and your employees as experts in your field, this is a sign that you’re on the right track. For example, when a local news story pertaining to your industry comes up, the news seeks you out for a comment. This shows that they believe in you as a leader in your industry and in the local business community. When you can call yourself an expert and people believe it, this leads to increases in profit and margins. Experts can charge more for their services and people will pay the price.
One of the major advantages that small businesses have over big companies is that they can be flexible. They don’t have hundreds of employees that require a cultural change every time something in the industry changes. You can stop on a dime and pivot to a new direction if need be.
If your company is able to be flexible and adapt to the changing market, this bodes well for your success overall. This also requires you to stay up-to-date on changes in the industry. Embracing change is the key to success in any small business, and those who do it the best are the most likely to succeed.
A Healthy and Caring Work Environment
One of the biggest indicators of success in small business is a healthy and caring work environment. The happy employees that you have all care about each other and the ultimate success of the business. They are constantly putting others before themselves and sacrificing for the good of the business and their fellow employees. This creates a positive and infectious culture that is palpable.
While this is a great sign, it can also lead to problems over time. If too many employees are working too hard for too long, it can lead to burnout. As the business leader, you have to look for signs of burnout and do whatever you can to avoid that. That could mean randomly giving your employee a day off or recognizing them for their hard work in front of others. Regardless of what you decide to try, make sure that their sacrifice for the company does not go unnoticed.
Don’t be overly demanding of your employees at any point. Give them plenty of leeway to do their work without micromanaging them. It’s up to you to set the clear guidelines of what you expect and then get out of the way. One option that you might want to consider is allowing employees the option of telecommuting. By allowing them to work some from home, you’ll help them avoid burnout and get some time away from the office.
You should also have fair and transparent HR policies that determine how time off will be handled. It needs to be the same for everyone, and make the policy as compassionate as possible. Allowing for holidays, vacation, and sick days is important to ensure that your employees stay happy over the long-term.
Focusing on the Future
While you have to be aware of the day-to-day details of your business, focusing on the future of the company is another good sign that your heart is in the right place. You should want to ensure the success of your small business over the long-term for you and your employees. Seek out industry experts to help with things like management strategy, growth, and innovation.
If you take the time to analyze your business from an outsider’s perspective, your chances of success are amplified. Periodically evaluating your company and its culture are imperative to your success over the long-term.
About the author
Jen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words, business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie