There are hundreds of quality products and services that you can offer as a small business. But offering quality is only a part of what it takes to attain success, and new, overly optimistic business owners usually learn this the hard way. Success is not easy to attain. This is partly because of the many external factors that affect business performance and the market; some of which include government policies, the actions of competition, customer preferences, etc. Also, statistics place the chances of a small business making it past the five-year mark at 50 percent with 80 percent of businesses making it past the first year.
These stats may seem discouraging and it means that business owners have to work extra hard, but it does not mean that achieving success is nearly impossible; small business owners should not be discouraged. While success is never guaranteed, there are ways to increase your chances.
It’s common knowledge that planning is one of the first things to do before starting a business, but planning is also an ongoing process and the more informed your plan is the more accurately you can factor in various elements and position your business for success. Your business plan should be as detailed as possible and must be based on market research. You should also plan for incoming changes to either the market or to government policies or the factors of production. This requires you to monitor external factors that affect your business. This leads to the next point.
Monitor External Factors
External factors are factors that affect the growth or performance of your business that you have little to no control over. And because you cannot control them, the most logical thing to do is to identify any changes to these factors, assess their impact (either positive or negative), and choose the best way to adapt.
Some of these external factors include:
- Laws: Government laws that affect businesses like the federal tax code, labor laws, etc are factors you cannot control but have significant effects on your business.
- Inflation: Inflation is a measure of the rise in the prices of goods. This rise is usually not accompanied by an increase in wages. The result is a depreciation of the currency which means a reduction in consumer spending power. This reduction may cause them to cut off some products and services. Inflation is caused by either a rise in the cost of production of goods or an increase in the demand for a product
- Customer preference
- Actions of competition, etc.
Your business plan is a roadmap to success, and on that roadmap, you have dates, tasks, and things to accomplish. The roadmap is the big picture, but success is a product of consistent small victories. To measure these small victories, you should set up milestones at various points. These milestones help you stay on track while following your road map and also reveals any lags in performance. To set up milestones, you must first have a clear picture of your business objectives, mission, and vision.
Outsource Less Important Work
There are a thousand and one tasks that need to be done regularly to ensure the smooth running of any small business. Tasks like accounting, customer service, content marketing, etc. have to be done on an ongoing basis. The problem with this is that these tasks can distract from the more core ones like business development. As a small-business owner, you should take advantage of opportunities to expand; you can’t do this if you’re always busy with book-keeping, customer service, advertising, etc.
Business news daily lists 10 tech-related tasks that can be outsourced. Among them are cloud hosting, website updates, business applications, etc. And in that light, some financial tasks can also be outsourced, like check printing. Printing checks can technically be done by anyone, but one would need magnetic ink, check-printing stock paper, check-printing software, among other things. This is a task that quickly becomes tedious when done in bulk, and then you’d have to mail them. This takes up valuable time that can be used to carry out more productive tasks. Luckily, there are online check printing companies like Smart Payables that print and mail your checks.
Go Through The Feedback Loop As Fast As Possible
The build-measure-learn feedback loop is a concept from the book Lean Startup, and—simply put—it involves the process of building a product, measuring its performance in the market, and learning from that. Business owners can choose to either adjust the product, persevere, or pivot. The faster you can cycle through this loop, the higher your chances of success.
From time tracking software, to project management platforms, to cloud-based book-keeping apps, and sophisticated CRMs, the 21st century is on the side of making business easier through technology. There are several amazing tools you can use that work with mind-blowing precision.
An example is geofencing marketing. Geo-fencing marketing is an advanced form of marketing where ads are shown specifically to smart devices within a location. This is done by setting up a digital perimeter around a physical location on a map; this digital perimeter is known as a geofence. With this technology, you can target potential customers that are around your store (if you have a physical store), showing them directions, ads, or any other information that gets them into your store. This technology is offered by companies like Demand Local and is a great asset to any business—small or large.