7 Tips to Give Your Small Business an Edge
Winston Churchill said, “No one can guarantee success in war, but only deserve it,” and in business, it’s much the same. Sometimes, despite your best efforts circumstances will conspire to undermine your success. However, there are some things you can do to make your business worthy of success. Here are 7 great ways you can give your small business an edge.
Have a Written Plan
A business plan is your strategy for success. If you don’t have one, and don’t have it written down so that you can refer to it, you’re floundering, and you’re likely to duplicate efforts or even find yourself working at cross purposes over time.
That said, you also need to be aware when it’s time to put aside your plan and try something different. Here’s another military statement that applies to small business: “No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.”
Don’t Hire Employees: Hire a Team, and Be Part of It
The fewer the people working in your business, the more you need to trust them and the more everyone needs to be able to work with everyone else. Make sure you’re hiring people who not only can do the work, but have the right attitude and are invested in your business.
And once you’ve hired people, work on fostering relationships among them. Show them the same courtesy, respect, and patience that you want them to show your customers. And when you interact with customers, always model proper behavior as well.
Don’t Neglect the Legal
Sure, it costs a little bit more to start your business if you draw up legal papers for a corporation, get all the proper insurance, licenses, and the rest, but it can not only save your business, it can save your life.
If your business isn’t a separate legal entity, then it can’t have separate finances. Any debts the business incurs can then be assessed against your personal finances. If the business fails, it may be long gone, but its debt can hang around for years.
And those debts can include penalties and fees for not having your business legally licensed and insured.
Don’t Neglect Your Taxes
Almost nobody likes taxes, but they are a necessary fact of life. Paying taxes will certainly cut into your profit margins, but it’s nothing compared to not paying taxes. Once you add on interest and penalties, you could end up with twice the burden or more. And remember, if you’re not paying taxes quarterly, you could be subject to penalties, even if you pay the right amount at the end of the year.
Have a Website That Meets Your Customers’ Needs
These days, everybody should be online. Your small business is no exception, and you want to make sure that your business can be found by people looking for it. Not only that, but they should be able to quickly and easily find important information about your business, such as your hours, telephone number, and some idea about what services or products you offer.
And don’t forget to make your website mobile, too. Many people will come across your business by searching on their phones for local services. If they can’t read your website on their smartphone, they might bypass you for a competitor.
Don’t Forget to Smile
Sure being a small business owner can be hard sometimes, but don’t forget, you’re living your dream. Many people never get the chance to enjoy what you’re experiencing now, so don’t let the challenges get you down.
Besides that, a smile and friendly greeting is one of the most important things that people value in a small business. In a recent study, people ranked a smile and friendly greeting as the number one reason they frequented local businesses.
Master the Soft Sell
Again, we know business is tough. Times are hard. You’re desperate to make a sale. But try not to let it show. Part of the feeling people want from a small business is that you’re a friendly, personal alternative to the Big Box retailers. If you want to maintain that reputation, you need to master the soft sell.
Don’t push your product. Find out what people want and need, then give them solutions and options. Not only will you likely make more sales, you’ll generate good will that can drive more business. Even if you don’t make a sale today, people are more likely to come back to buy from you tomorrow.
That’s all for today. If you have more tips, feel free to share them. Now, go forth, and thrive!
About the Author: Dr. Matthew B. Candelaria (PhD, U of Kansas 2006) enjoys the vibrancy of the small business culture in his area. He loves to frequent businesses within walking distance of his home, and appreciates the eccentricities that each has to offer. As a freelance writer, he continues to learn many small business lessons and writes from personal experience.
Cover photo credit: The Rocketeer
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