Each day presents a new opportunity to strengthen your business operations and move your company forward. It can be tough to know where to concentrate your energy. Here are 11 easy ways you can improve your business operations the smart way.
1. Plan Your Day
As Benjamin Franklin stated: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Don’t just jump into your day. Take time each morning to prepare a list of tasks and projects that need your attention, set a few short-term goals, and look ahead. Here’s an inspiring article from Buffer with steps you can take to create your own daily work schedule: The Daily Routines of 7 Famous Entrepreneurs and How to Design Your Own.
2. Review Your Business Plan
A business plan is a formal statement of your business goals, reasons they are attainable, and strategies for reaching them. Many entrepreneurs put a lot of care into creating a comprehensive business plan when launching their company. Then that plan gets filed away, never to be seen again. Make your business plan a living document that works for you. Review it regularly and revise as market conditions change to help keep you on track, energized, and ready for growth.
Need help crafting a plan that works for you? Check out this guide from the SmartBiz Small Business Blog: How to Write a Business Plan for Your Small Business (Without Going to Business School).
3. Get in Touch with Existing Customers
Nurture your current customer relationships through newsletters, social media, and other ways you can keep your brand top-of-mind. According to Bain researchers, increasing customer retention by just 5% can boost profits by as much as 25%–95%. Don’t forget to have a system in place to monitor customer reviews. Check Yelp, Facebook, Google and other places your business is mentioned so you can solve problems quickly and thank loyal customers for their business.
4. Evaluate Pricing
Pricing products as been described as “part art and part science”. Get pricing right and you’ll be in good shape to increase sales and build a loyal customer base. Get it wrong and your entire operation can be at risk. Inc. has a comprehensive article to help guide you as you evaluate your overall pricing structure: How to Price Your Products. It’s always a good idea to have a financial professional help you crunch the numbers.
5. List Areas You Want to Improve
Entrepreneurs are a diverse bunch with a wide variety of skill sets. You probably know your strengths, but have you considered focusing on areas where you could improve? You might want to adjust your billing and collection process or implement a better record keeping system. Don’t ignore personal areas where you could improve. You could take a local college course on public speaking to help you network or brush up on new social media strategies via an online class. Make a list, prioritize, and set realistic deadlines so you don’t get overwhelmed.
6. Explore New Markets
If you’re looking for higher sales and greater visibility, it might be a good time to explore new markets. This is a big step so make sure this move is consistent with your overall business plan and that you have the time and resources to devote to new market research and development. You don’t want to spread yourself or your resources too thin and put the business you have at risk.
7. Improve Marketing
Marketing is all about developing your brand and demand for your product. If you’ve been focused on just making the sale, you could be missing out on new customers. Explore low-cost ways to improve your marketing efforts. Take a look at new social media strategies, consider content marketing, and refresh your website. Check out these easy-to-digest articles with lots of great marketing ideas you can easily implement:
- 16 Best Marketing Strategies for Small Business
- 6 Smart Business Marketing Ideas with Low Investment
- 12 Internet Marketing Strategies That Skyrocket Your Business
8. Resolve Small Issues
Little glitches and things that aren’t quite streamlined can cause more harm than you think. As a small business owner, you need to be aware of small problems and weak spots that can affect your bottom line. Reach out to your team and hold a brainstorming session to identify and solve issues that are slowing down or compromising work.
9. Keep Up with Trends
Don’t get left behind! Subscribe to newsletters and podcasts that cover your industry, keep up with the local and national economy, and stay on top of new laws that might affect your business operations. Perform a competitive analysis regularly so you know what others in your field are up to.
10. Inspire Employees
Today's workforce spends a lot of time at work. In fact, a recent labor study found that the average employee spends 30 percent of their time at work or at work-related events and activities. As an employer, you want to make sure your team knows you care about their well-being. The SmartBiz Blog has resources to help you develop an employee friendly culture:
- 15 Original Employee Recognition Ideas
- Stressed Employees? 6 Tips to Help Lighten the Burden
- Strategies to Retain Your Small Business Employees
11. Seek Affordable Outside Funding
You might think that taking on debt is counterproductive when running a business. Actually, taking out a low-cost loan can be a great option for companies who are in good shape financially. This blog post from SmartBiz Loans outlines how outside funds can help you grow and save money: The Benefits of Long-Term Debt for Your Small Business.
Wondering where to turn for low-cost funds? SBA loans are generally known as the “gold standard” in small business funding due to low rates, long terms, and very low monthly payments. To determine where you stand before you apply, try out SmartBiz Advisor. This easy-to-use online tool generates your unique “Loan Ready Score” and offers suggestions to improve your numbers, if needed. Get started here.
Not quite ready for an SBA loan? We’ve worked with SmartBiz marketplace banks to offer other funding options, like bank term loans and credit lines. Visit SmartBiz Loans here to learn more and get started.