So your business could be doing better, right? People cite many reasons for their business doing badly such as:
- Bad Economy
- Lazy Partners
- Political Climate
And just about any other thing they can come up with. In short, it is someone-else’s fault. Sometimes, I feel bad for “someone-else” because it seems like he is always getting the blame.
What did someone-else do to deserve that? Rather, what didn’t someone-else do to deserve that?
Case Study: Why My Gift Basket Business Failed
When I hear people blame someone else, it reminds me of a neat phrase that I’ve heard. I’m going to paraphrase it here (which actually means “butcher it”):
If not now, then when?
If not me, then who?
In the context that I’m using it, this phrase is attempting to address all the reasons people come up with for procrastination.
If it isn’t your job, then whose job is it? If you won’t do it now, then when will you get around to it?
Efficiency is one of the best ways to improve your business. Ordinarily, it doesn’t require anything extra other than improving your processes.
Sometimes you might need a new machine, new personnel, but often cost savings can be realized immediately. Look at what you current processes are, and ask how you can improve it.
Make sure everyone is trained properly, make sure that everything flows smoothly, and ensure you’re getting the most productivity. As an example, if you have an assembly line, no one should have to get up, and walk over to another person, then have that person walk over to someone else before them.
An assembly line should be a smooth linear process. Complete your job, then the product moves to the next guy. Whether the product be on a conveyor belt, or it is being slid down a table is of no consequence, it should be smooth and linear. The next person on the assembly line should have the next job to do.
This sort of goes along with efficiency in that you need to manage efficiently for your business to be effective. A business is only as good as the management above it. You need to run your business’ financial ship like a confident captain.
When times are good, save like they are bad. When times are bad, save like they are bad. Be ready for a soft market, be ready for a down economy, and be ready for an aggressive competitor. Plan ahead, know what your next steps will be, look at the current numbers to see how they line up with your plans, and make the necessary adjustments to reach the goals.
As the manager, it is your job to plan, direct, control, and make decisions. If you lack in any of those, then you’re doing your company, yourself, and your employees a disservice. I would suggest consulting with a SCORE counselor for assistance and advice.
Volunteers and Interns
Depending on your line of business, volunteers and interns might be an excellent place for you to find free or inexpensive labor. There are some scholarships that require volunteer hours and lots of job seekers want to get their foot in the door and are trying it through internships.
Regardless, volunteers and interns likely have a more elevated sense of motivation because it extends beyond money. They are volunteering or interning for reasons that are more important than money. Isn’t that the kind of person you would want on your team? Granted, not everyone will have super-human motivation, but your chances are increased.
During times of low (and sometimes high) earnings, companies may be tempted to expand their product offerings into areas that seemed like a good idea. Let me make this clear, I’m not saying that growth and expansion is a bad thing, but it can be.
If your product offerings are too wide, then what are some of the costs associated with that?
- More employees.
- Training existing employees.
- Different machinery.
- More work space.
- Stretching budgets such as marketing.
- Increased exposure to competitors.
There are a lot of things to consider when expanding into new products, and if you’ve already expanded, it may be better to eliminate the under-performers and focus on the bread-and-butter that is keeping the lights on.
Market Your Product
If I set up a lemonade stand inside a shed in my backyard, how successful do you think it would be? It would depend on how well I marketed it. If I have great signs out front, a welcoming path to the stand, maybe some greeters outside, a few tables and chairs, music, coupons in the newspaper, a website with exact location, a spot on Google Maps, and interacted on Social Media, I might do pretty well!
My location could definitely be better, and I will lose some customers because of that, but such is life. If you’re buried in the back of a C-grade location where cars need to do a u-turn to get to you, you’ll lose customers, but this doesn’t mean you have to go out of business!
Make use of all the free marketing methods, and learn how to use them well. Twitter marketing is free, and many businesses use it as their primary sales traffic driver. If mobile businesses can pay the bills because they send out a few tweets each day, then you can make it with a great product and some marketing.
If customers aren’t walking through your doors, then your marketing needs a revamp! I highly suggest speaking with a SCORE counselor (they are ALWAYS FREE), and coming up with a plan. If you don’t have the time, then take one of the many Free Score Webinars to get your feet wet on marketing in the 21st century.
Get Your Business Moving!
I’ve provided some very fundamental, and useful tips above to help get your business back in shape. These may seem very basic, but I’m surprised at how often the basics are forgotten. In all honesty, I forget the basics and I have to remind myself.
Take these tips, and run with them. If you are already doing everything that I’ve listed above, then maybe there is a reason out of your control, but before you put the business on auto-pilot and let things unfold as they may, contact a SCORE counselor and see what ideas they have. You don’t have to do this alone!