Being a Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) Business Owner can be a tough, challenging and demanding “job”. But it can also be extremely rewarding and enjoyable too. Here are 10 simple, straight forward common sense tips to help any budding start-up or established SME business owner.
1. Do what you enjoy.
What you get out of your business in the form of personal satisfaction, financial gain, stability and enjoyment will be the sum of what you put into your business. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, in all likelihood it’s safe to assume that will be reflected in the success of your business. Bottom line, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, then the chances are you won’t succeed.
2. Plan everything.
Planning every aspect of your business is not only a must, but also builds habits that every home business owner should develop, implement, and maintain.
The act of business planning is so important because it requires you to analyse each business situation, research and compile data, and make conclusions based mainly on the facts as revealed through the research. If you allocate a day to plan a year it doesn’t seem so much time for the benefit it brings back. Review regularly and change your goals or your actions to achieve them if you are falling short or exceeding target.
3. Manage money wisely.
The lifeblood of any business enterprise is cash flow. You need it to buy inventory, pay for services, promote and market your business, repair and replace tools and equipment, and pay yourself so that you can continue to work. Therefore, all business owners must become wise money managers to ensure that the cash keeps flowing and the bills get paid. There are at least three aspects to wise money management.
- The money you receive from clients in exchange for your goods and services you provide (income)
- The money you spend on inventory, supplies, wages and other items required to keep your business operating. (expenses)
- One minus the other represents your gross profit (margin)
Numbers are the language of business. Knowing your numbers is the key to success and can be fun too.. I help my clients build a business dashboard that contains simple “need-to-know” numbers like these.
4. Ask for the sale.
A business owner must always remember that marketing, advertising, or promotional activities are completely worthless, regardless of how clever, expensive, or perfectly targeted they are, unless one simple thing is accomplished–asking for the sale. Did you know you dramatically increase the risk of a sale by simply asking for it!
5. Remember it’s all about the customer.
Your business is not about the products or services that you sell. Your business is not about the prices that you charge for your goods and services.
Your business is all about your customers, or clients, period. After all, your customers are the people that will ultimately decide if your business goes boom or bust. Everything you do in business must be customer focused, including your policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising and promotional campaigns and website. The more customer centric you are the more likely people will buy and continue to buy from you.
6. Project a positive business image.
Nowadays, you have an ever decreasing amount of time to project a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business with. The majority of SME’s do not have the advantage of elaborate offices or elegant storefronts and showrooms to wow prospects and impress customers. Instead, they must rely on imagination, creativity and attention to the smallest detail when creating and maintaining a professional image for their business.
7. Get to know your customers.
The SME business owner has a distinct advantage over many of its bigger competitors. He/she can actually answer phone calls, get to know customers, provide personal attention and win over new and repeat business by doing so. It’s a fact that most business (around 80 per cent) will come from repeat customers rather than new customers. Therefore, along with trying to draw newcomers, the more you can do to wow your regular customers, the better off you will be in the long run and personalized attention is very much appreciated and remembered in the modern high tech world where automated and passive systems prevent good old fashioned relationship building opportunities.
8. Become known as an expert.
When you have a problem that needs to be solved you naturally seek an expert to help solve your problem. You call a plumber when the hot water tank leaks, an estate agent when it’s time to sell your home or a dentist when you have a toothache. Therefore, it only stands to reason that the more you become known for your expertise in your business, the more people will seek you out to tap into your expertise, creating more selling and referral opportunities.
9. Invest in yourself.
Two of my favourite quotes from Jim Rohn.. “Work harder on yourself than you do your job” and “never wish your life was easier, wish that you were better”. Successful business owners study business books, listen to CD’s, read newsletters and websites, attend business seminars, workshops and training courses knowing that these resources will improve their knowledge and understanding of business skills. They join business associations and they network with other skilled business people to learn their secrets of success in order to help define their own goals and objectives. Education is an on-going process, never stop investing in the most powerful, effective and best business and marketing tool at your immediate disposal—YOU!!!
10. Follow-up constantly.
I like to call it “afters” Follow-up with customers, prospects, and all business alliances consistently. Statistically the sale doesn’t come until the sixth or seventh touch and most sales people actually stop after three touches. So consistent and timely follow-ups enables you to turn prospects into customers, increase the value of your sale and the buying frequency from existing customers. One the most overlooked opportunities is the follow-up with your existing customer base, as the real work begins after the sale, it takes work to retain customers and keep them coming back. Remember, you want to open and sales relationship, not close a sale!
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