Being a small business owner isn’t easy. The market can be competitive, margins are tight, and seemingly small problems can turn into major calamities overnight. With that in mind, here are three common problems & mistakes small business owners face, and what you can do to avoid or fix them: 1) Unmotivated, Unequipped Sales Department – You can’t grow your business if you’re not growing your sales, and you’re not going to grow your sales if you have a sales staff without the means and desire to bring in new business. An underperforming sales staff can be the death knell of a small business. And because your business is small, that death can come FAST.
How To Fix It: Set clear expectations and monitor their activity. Don’t worry about them feeling like you’re looking over their shoulders. Sales people are a unique breed. They thrive under the watchful eye of omnipresent expectations. Just as important, make sure they’re equipped to succeed with a good support staff, easy access to digital sales tools (document scanning and remote access to company resources can help in this regard), and a compensation plan that will motivate them to succeed.
2) An Outdated Online Marketing Strategy – Everyone has been telling you that you have to be online, you have to be on social media, and you have to market yourself in the digital world. Those people are right, but too many small businesses jump into this world blindly, engaging in online marketing tactics that are woefully out of date. Doing this can not only be ineffective, thus costing you money for little return, they can also backfire on you when a bad SEO strategy ruins your ranking, your social media activity makes you look bad, and so on.
How To Fix It: One of the best money-saving office tips is to eliminate wasteful, inefficient marketing. Seek out strategists who are on the cutting edge of the online world. If they’re pitching the same old approach you’ve heard a million times before, move on. More importantly, be prepared to change focus, to do so often, and to do so FAST. Online marketing is a moving target. If you’re not prepared to be flexible, you’re not prepared to be playing in this arena.
3) You Don’t Have A Five-Year Business Plan – The lack of a business plan looking ahead to the years to come is a fatal flaw in most small businesses, and is a reason why so many don’t succeed. And make no mistake, simply knowing how your business operates on a day-to-day basis is NOT a business plan. Lack of planning ahead ensures you won’t be prepared to grow, won’t be setting the stage for the long-term evolution of your business, and won’t be ready when it comes time to switch gears.
How To Fix It: Whether you want to expand into a new market, plan to convert to a paperless office, want to open a second location, aim to trim back staff, or any other change, it needs to happen with good planning. Sit down on an annual basis (or every other year) and craft a five-year plan. Sketch out what you want to accomplish and how you’ll do it. Even a series of simple bullet points will suffice. The important thing is that you have clear, focused goals, and that you periodically re-assess to see how you’re doing in meeting those goals.
Overcome these common problems and you’ll be halfway to success.