How to Tell You Are Running a Successful Small Business

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?

Motivated Employees

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.

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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.

Happy Customers

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.

Expert Credibility

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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.

Flexibility

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

JenJen 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

3 Ways to Get Your Small Business Growing

Do you feel like your small business may be stuck in a rut? When the answer is yes, you’ve got some serious work ahead of you. Being in charge of a small business can wear on some people over time, but the hope is you are not one of them.

That said it is important to do all you can to keep your small business headed in the right direction.

Be cognizant of your financial happenings. Also look at the morale of your team (for those with employees). Yes, it can be much to juggle at times, but would you have it any other way?

Keep Shooting for More Business Growth

So your small business can grow as much as possible, remember the following tips:

  1. Goals

First, always set realistic goals for your business moving forward. To use an analogy, some business owners have eyes that are bigger than their appetites. When this happens, they are not able to grow their companies.

At the start of each month, set a few goals that you want to see accomplished by month’s end. Now, don’t get too disappointed if one or even some of them are not completed. The only time to worry is if you are missing out on most or all them.

Also do a review of where your business was a year ago now. By seeing if you’ve grown, stayed about the same, and even taken a step or two back, it is important to compare periods.

The goals you set for your growth must always be within reach, not those that you are all but assured of not reaching.

  1. Funds

Yes, it would be pretty hard for your company to grow without there being a financial lifeline along the way.

That said if you are in need of direct funds for your small business, where will you turn?This can be a tricky question to answer, especially if your options are rather limited.

Do your best to get whatever funds you need without mortgaging your future.

Before accepting a cash funding arrangement, be sure to research each potential provider.
Look at things such as:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have a solid reputation within the business community?
  • Is their customer service as good as it gets?
  • What kind of record do they have with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

While it makes perfect sense to get financial help to grow your business, do it wisely.

  1. Outreach

Assuming you’ve been doing various forms of brand outreach up to now, is it working?Even though you might think you are doing enough, are you? One of the best ways to grow your business is making sure as many consumers as possible know about it.

This means marketing, advertising, blogging, social media, the list goes on and on.

If you do not have the time or manpower to get all these needs accomplished, reach out for more help. Sure, while you have to spend money to make money may seem like an old cliché, it is quite realistic.

Never take an axe to your outreach efforts, especially as you look to grow your brand moving forward.

As a small business owner, what practices have worked for you in growing your company?

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.

 

 

Is It Time To Grow Your Small Business?

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It takes a lot of work to get to the point where you can seriously consider trying to expand your business. First, you had to take the steps of entrepreneurs before and go out into the world with an idea and the determination to make it work. Many people don’t get that far. Secondly, you have to maintain the success that you have found. Your business should be a foundation for further growth. Before thinking about expansion, you need to be confident that what you have at the moment is not going to fall out from under you. Expanding an existing business is actually a greater risk than starting one: if you fail to establish a business, you are left where you were to begin with, which is with nothing. If you fail to expand your business and it folds in the process, you are similarly left with nothing but that is a lot less than what you once had. If you feel that it is the right time to grow your business, you should immediately stop and carefully plan what it is that you want to do. It stands to reason that you would not have reached this point if you allowed your judgement to be clouded by reckless ambition. Here is a checklist of things to think about before making a life-changing decision:

Growing your business, at least at first, can be an expensive endeavour. You may need to move into bigger premises or take on more staff or substantially enhance your technological capital. All of these things require money and if your business is not making the requisite profit, you may be in trouble. If your business is successful enough to brook these costs, you have to make sure that the money is available to you now. You do not want to start your new business with too much debt. If you want to free up some money, consider taking advantage of invoice finance options. They allow you to get 80% of future invoice payments within a few days of issuing them. At a time when you are looking towards the future in any case, this can make the difference between success and failure.

Besides the need for more money, you will also find that you are facing greater responsibilities. If you are doing more business with more customers, there will be more paperwork and a greater need to ensure that everything is exactly right. While it may be necessary to take on more staff to do the extra work, you should also consider bringing in someone to whom you can delegate some of your newer responsibilities. It can be difficult letting go of the thing that you have had complete control over since its inception, but success can sometimes be difficult and this is one such instance.

The most important thing, however, is to know what you are getting into. It is one thing to ensure that your business is ready to grow, but if you don’t know what it will be growing into, you should find out. Market research is more crucial in this instance than in any other.

 

 

Plan Ahead for Maximum Tax Benefits

In running your small business, do you feel at times like the financial walls are closing in around you? If that is the case, now would be a good time to review how you’ve done financially this year, along with thinking about where you want to be in the future.

Also keep in mind that being savvy with your business finances doesn’t mean you are great with personal expenses and vice-versa. In order to be in a win-win situation, smart decisions must be made on both fronts. If you feel like you maybe have not been making the best financial decisions at times, has the time arrived to get help?

When you own a business, you have so much to think about. Your products need to be made, and your website needs to go up. And, of course, you need to have an active presence on social media.

One thing you can’t forget is filing your taxes! Taxes are something that can cause big headaches for small businesses. If you don’t have good records, you may find it difficult to complete your paperwork at the end of the year.

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Plan ahead by using software like QuickBooks to track every check, credit card and debit card purchase and quickly see what you are spending using built-in expense reports.

Another resource you can take advantage of is the QuickBooks Resource Center. Read articles on setting up contracts that will help you get your invoices paid. Access advice on payroll and mistakes you can avoid making.

Want to go into next year feeling as good as possible about your work and home financial situations, take action now. That means sooner rather than later, not whenever you feel like getting around to it.

Finding the Best Deals for Your Company

As you pour over the ways to make your small business as successful as possible, what are you doing when it comes to locating deals for your company?

By saving money whenever and wherever possible, you will have more green to spend on other things that are relevant to your business.

That said don’t automatically look for the cheapest products and services out there, figuring you will always win with a deal. Although it is perfectly fine to save money (and it is encouraged), make sure you are getting quality products and services in return.

With that in mind, the Internet offers an array of information for you, information that can lead to locating some great opportunities for your small business.

From office products to finding the best mobile app for your brand, use the worldwide web as often as possible to track down savings.

So, are you ready to find the best deals for your company?

Delivering Quality and Savings for Your Brand

So that you are able to deliver quality and savings for your brand, remember these pointers:

Promoting awareness

As a small business owner, one of your greatest needs is making customers (present and potential) more aware of your brand.

That being the case, you have a myriad of means in order to do this, with some typically working better than others.

One such way is by having a mobile app aboard for the ride.

As countless small business owners have discovered in recent years, a mobile app is a great means by which one can tout their brands to customers.

In your search of the top app development companies, take note that you do not necessarily have to pay through the nose for the right app.

By properly researching the different app developers out there, you can narrow down your list of which ones could build you the best app possible. From there, you might even see some savings come about by not necessarily getting all the best and whistles many apps offer.

The bottom line is finding the best mobile app at the best price, so start shopping today if you do not already have an app.

Office supplies

Be honest, do you have way too many office supplies sitting around your workplace?

If so, there’s a good chance you’re solely responsible for that.

Sure, you may have your office manager or another individual in charge of ordering such supplies, but did you really need all of what you ended up with?

In many cases, you are literally throwing money out the door by ordering extras of this and that.

To cut down on such waste expenditures, have the person in charge (it may even be you) of ordering supplies keep a detailed list of what is needed each month.

From recycling paper to using money-saving light bulbs and much more, you can end up cutting your office supply expenses down month after month.

Hiring talent

Lastly, while you should never skimp on hiring the best talent possible for your small business, you once again can take a cue from your promotional efforts and ordering office supplies.

By hiring good talent with fair compensation packages, you actually end up saving money in the long run.

Keep in mind that a revolving employee door in your workplace ultimately costs you money over time.

As such, while you thought you were saving some green by paying workers low salaries, there’s a good chance they will leave sooner rather than later. That then leads to having to train more new hires.

Without overpaying for talent, try and give your employees what each is worth, finding ways to come out with the best deals for your company when all is said and done.

As a small business owner, how are you going about locating deals for your company?

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.

4 Keys to a More Productive Small Business

Feel at times as if your small business is stuck in neutral? If that’s the case, there are some things you can deploy to try and get things moving once again in the right direction.

In running that small business of yours, you likely know all too well that budgets are usually tight, leaving you with little wiggle room unlike larger companies.

That said even a tight budget does not mean you are destined for long days now and in the future.

By getting the most out of your employees, resources, advertising and marketing etc. you can build quite a productive small business over time.

So, are you ready to see a more productive small business come your way?

It All Starts with a Plan

So that your small company doesn’t have to put a closed for business sign out sooner rather than later, remember the following four keys to more production:

  1. Employee production

Unless you’re running the show by yourself, you rely heavily on your workers to deliver results. As such, make sure you’re not only hiring the best people available, but also making sure they live up to your expectations.

Sure, you will make some bad hires along the way, but those hires should be minimal at best. By taking the time to thoroughly review each and every prospective employee, you stand a much better chance of getting the talent you require to run a first-rate small business.

Lastly, make sure you provide a working atmosphere that not only motivates employees to do well, but fosters teamwork.

Unfortunately, too many small business owners end up with offices that are fraught with disagreements, people looking out only for themselves and their paychecks etc. By creating a positive workplace, you’re much more likely to see positive results in the end.

  1. Your resources

What type of resources are you deploying in your quest to have a winning small business For example, have you decided to move forward with a mobile app for your small business?

As many other business owners can attest to, having an app in play has changed how they do business in a positive way.

One of the advantages of having that app is getting your brand out in front of current and potential customers 24/7. Another is being able to offer specials and loyalty rewards programs to the best of your clients. Still another benefit is the ability to display blog content and much more, information that consumers can access at their convenience.

Whether you decide to use an app builder to make your small business app or end up reselling and constructing apps for others, you really need an app in today’s digital age to be as successful as possible.

Never Sleep on Customer Needs

  1. Customer service

What type of score would you give your company when it comes to providing stellar customer service?

Much to their chagrin, too many small business owners have to admit that they’re not doing as good a job as possible in the customer service arena. As a result, they lose potential long-time customers in the process.

To make sure you and your team don’t drop the ball in this important aspect of being in business, make sure you do the following:

  • Treat your customers with respect and dignity
  • Give them incentives to keep coming back to you (specials and discounts, announcements of sales before they go out to the general public etc.)
  • Respond to their feedback, including feedback that ultimately is not always positive about your brand
  1. Monitor the competition

Although you undoubtedly are busy with your own small business, it never hurts to see what direct competitors are up to.

As an example, keep your eye on how those companies you compete with go about hiring talent, responding to customer issues, using social media to reach consumers, and utilizing technology to stay a step ahead.

While some things you observe won’t be all that informative, others could very well turn a light on in your head, a light that leads you to do what others are doing even better.

So that your small business can be even more productive this year and down the road, are you ready to do whatever it takes to bring in more customers?

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.

 

 

 

Small Business? Use These Big Tools!

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image from pixabay

In the vast world of big business, having the right tech is incredibly important. In many ways, it is as important as going for the right staff, as picking the best tech for what your business needs will help make so many processes that much easier. Even picking the wrong ones can be a big hindrance to how your company progresses, so here are some of the basics that are used a lot by big companies.

Landing Page Tools

Small businesses suffer when it comes to cost, and so they can’t afford to invest in a top of the range web designer. Having the right landing page tools helps to bridge that gap. There are many custom forms and templates built into these tools, and you can test the pages before they go live, it is a great method to make sure that your site is as user-friendly and money saving as it can possibly be.

Scheduling Software

There are lots of tools and software you can use to keep motivated, whether it is a basic app, or scheduling software reminding you on a regular basis to update a marketing plan or to schedule a meeting, you can keep all your business movements in one place.

EDI

This is Electronic Data Interchange. Put simply, this is a way to make data transfer as quick and painless as possible. If you need to move information between companies, this is one of the best ways without shelling out money for big shipment charges! The data for EDI needs to be in a specific “language” which will need to be converted by a specialist or the right expert IT support, or you can purchase software to help with this too.

The Cloud

As a storage provider, you cannot go far wrong to beat the cloud! As many businesses have now moved over to this type of storage rather than just keeping their information stored on their in-house computers, you don’t see many companies go back! Not only is it a healthy way to keep information stored due to the amount of protection you will have, but it also saves your business money by powering itself down when it is not being used.

A Server

Choosing the right server will depend on the amount of information you need to process on a daily basis. If you are processing tons and plan on processing more as the business gets bigger, then opting for a larger server will be the best option for you. Just make sure you have lots of space to house your server.

Trading Apps

In the world of the mobile app, you can keep tabs on the market on the move. You barely need to get out of bed! Having the best trading apps at the tips of your fingers serves you well to keep abreast of market changes, exchange rates, and trends. Keeping in the loop has never been more important, and now you can wherever you are.