Individuals are constantly improvingthemselves by identifying their poor habits and then changing them.Sadly, this attitude is rarely applied to businesses; which isunfortunate because a business should be treated as a living, breathingentity as well. Though you may be familiar with the essentials for anindividual to survive—food, shelter, and clothing—the essentials for the survival of a business are not nearly as clear. Therefore, we havecompiled a list of what we believe are the Top 10 tips for strategically growing your current business’s profitability. We have come acrossbusinesses in all sorts of industries, but seem to notice that the onessuffering share the same problems. Following these simple suggestionswill help place your business back on track and result in greatersuccess.
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Write down your goals.You may have started your business with big goals and even largerdreams, but time has progressed and the daily complications of running a business may have distracted you from these goals. It’s even morelikely that your original goals have now changed. That’s why we suggestall our clients re-write their business goals. Clearly outline what youwant to accomplish in the next month, in the next year, and in the nextfive years. These goals do not necessarily have to be strictly relatedto financials either, they can include new directions or ideas you mayhave for the future of your business.
Identify the weaknesses. Next you should identify where your business is most weak so you canfocus your efforts on improving that area. But, herein lies the trickypart: being able to identify a weakness is difficult for most businessowners, because it often feels like admitting defeat. The business owner is typically too close to the operations to even notice what the weakarea is. Therefore, we suggest stepping back from your business,dropping all bias and emotion, and examining it from an outsider’sperspective. Once you have been completely honest with yourself aboutwhat your business’s weaknesses are, write them down. These weaknessesdo not necessarily have to be related to losses in profit either. Theycan merely be areas that you feel you aren’t achieving your fullpotential. Examine every aspect of your company and create an exhaustive list of all of your business’s weaknesses.
Create a plan. Now youhave a list of your new goals and a list of your business’s weaknesses.Reconcile these two lists; that is, you must determine what you can doto improve the weaknesses so to reach your ultimate goals. This is truly the difficult element in improving your business, which is why manyseek the guidance and advice of business consultants and attorneys.There is no one right answer for how to improve your business’sweakness. Sometimes it is as simple as devoting more time to that area,while other times you may have to admit that there is no solution anddetermine how to continue your business without the anchor that isholding you down. If done correctly, you should now have a thoroughbusiness plan that outlines your problem areas, the solutions to theseareas, and how these solutions will accomplish your ultimate goals. This shall serve as your new business plan.
Follow your plan. The most common problem we witness when consulting with businesses is a lack of follow through. People are always excited to fix their business and create a fantastic plan, but never follow through with their plan.Don’t ignore the new plan you’ve created. Take action. Set aside an hour a week to make sure that you are keeping up with your plan, that youare making progress towards improving your weaknesses and are closer toyour goal than you were last week. Adhere to the deadlines you set inyour plan. If you ever notice something not working, refer back to yourplan and try to identify the problem.
Start to socialize.Regardless of what your business does, getting the word out andmarketing are crucial to your business’s continued survival and success. A small business’s image is often largely intertwined with the owner’simage. You should become a walking ad for your business. Meet peopleboth in and out of your field and talk about your business as you wouldabout your child. Often times the best leads and results come, not fromsocializing with others in your industry, but from people that can useyour business to further their own interests. A symbiotic relationshipbetween several other businesses and individuals will always provesuccessful.
Strengthen your online presence. Along with marketing your business by personally socializing withothers, a strong online presence is crucial for your business’scontinued success. In today’s market, your website is often morepowerful than the brick and mortar storefront. If you can create astrong internet presence, you will not only reach more potential clients and customers, but they will also subconsciously respect your businessmore. No one wants to work with a business that has a website that looks like it’s from 1996. Upgrade your website and social mediamarketing—such as your Facebook or Twitter—so to create an appearance of success. Often the appearance of success creates confidence in yourbusiness that results in more potential clients or customers.
Learn to delegate.Small business owners feel that they must be included in or constantlyoverseeing every aspect of their business. Sadly, this is a sure fireway to bottleneck your business. Suddenly nothing is accomplishedwithout your permission or direct involvement. Learn to work with andhire competent individuals that understand your goals and can accomplish them without your constant involvement. For this to work, you must beable to identify your own personal strengths and weaknesses and bewilling to delegate tasks that are not necessarily your forte. Once youfree up your time to focus back on your own strengths and goals, youwill notice an improvement in your entire business.
Invest in your strengths. I always explain to my clients that “it takes money to make money.” Now this doesn’t mean to go and suddenly spend thousands of dollars on anew printer when you own a restaurant. Rather, identify where yourbusiness makes most of its money by examining your sales or profits.Next, identify where your business is losing the most money. Then,divert the money you are investing in the losing area into the area that is actually profiting. By strengthening the area of your business thathas already proven successful, you are only strengthening the entirebusiness. Sometimes it is better to cut off a dying branch on a tree tosave the whole. So, reinvest in your strengths.
Learn your competition. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and often the mostsuccessful way to grow your own business. There is usually a reason that your competitors are succeeding and you are still struggling. Beingable to objectively examine your competition and identifying theirstrengths is the surest way to improve your own business. Thecompetition has already created a working model for your business, learn it. After learning why your competition is succeeding, try to adaptthis information to your own business. This does not mean you shouldcompletely copy or steal another business’s model, but use their already successful model to further improve your own.
Enjoy it. There istruly no greater feeling than being your own boss. However, there is noworse feeling than thinking you failed. Remove the negative emotions and remember why you started your own business to begin. Remember theambition that fueled you. Remember the passion that motivated you. It’sno surprise that people do better at things they enjoy. So rewardyourself and your employees in the small victories that you accomplish.Seeing reward for your hard work will only drive you to work harder. Ialways advise my clients to remove all emotion from your business so itcan operate smoother, but a little positive emotion pumped into thebusiness won’t ever hurt.