Running a small business is an exciting and daunting task. While the idea of being your own boss and pursuing your passion is thrilling, the reality of navigating the world of entrepreneurship can be overwhelming without a clear roadmap.
So, why do it alone? Take a peek inside our playbook for the three steps to take your business to the next level. Let’s dive in and start building your roadmap to success!
Step 1: Watch Your Wallet
Being passionate about your business is one of the many keys to success. When you are truly invested in what you do, you are more likely to put in the hard work and dedication needed to achieve your goals.
Wyatt Matheson of Firth Service Center in Idaho knows all about passion. “If you’re looking to purchase a business from an old owner or you’re looking into opening up your own company, the biggest thing is: Make sure it’s something that you’re passionate about,” he urges.
But as a successful business owner, even he understands that while you went into business to become the solution to an industry problem, you also have to make sure you’re turning a profit — or at least not bleeding money.
Managing money is crucial for the success and longevity of your business. In fact, only 40% of small businesses see a profit, while 30% are breaking even. As for the remaining 30%, their books are in the red.
While customers are helpful in keeping your business afloat, their money means nothing without a budget-conscious eye monitoring your cash flow.
66% of small businesses face financial challenges that make it difficult to succeed
Luckily, you don’t need a finance degree to stay on top of the following these tips.
Put Profit First
By prioritizing profits, businesses improve their financial health. Having a profit allows businesses to reinvest in their operations, expand their reach and ultimately thrive in their marketplace. Without a profit, businesses cannot sustain themselves, let alone grow and innovate.
Take your sales, deduct your expenses and what’s left with after is your profit. Consider this your spending and investing money. If you’re not satisfied with the number looking back at you, it may benefit you to cover more of your expenses by increasing your pricing. Be sure the service is worth the cost.
It’s not enough to be mindful that you’re spending less than your profit amount. Hide away some of that money in a business savings account. While the idea of having less to work with feels uncomfortable, it’ll provide a nice cushion should an unexpected business expense arise.
Revisit Your Expenses
Revisiting business expenses is an essential step in managing a profitable operation. Companies should periodically review their expenses, spending patterns and identify areas where they can reduce costs without compromising quality or performance.
By doing this, businesses can free up resources to invest in growth initiatives or improve their bottom line. Categorize expenses and evaluate them based on their importance and impact. This will help in identifying costs worth dropping like unused subscriptions.
Review your vendor lists. Have costs increased? Is there a company with more offering for the same cost that allows you to cancel a vendor or two? If the relationship is transactional, why not make the switch? If you value the business-to-business relationship though, we suggest flexing your negotiation skills.
Step 2: Get Digital
To stay ahead of the competition, it’s crucial to level the playing field. Technology allows you to do just that. And let’s address the myth — adding technology won’t replace your employees.
Digitizing your business means taking advantage of technology to streamline and automate your processes, improve efficiency and ultimately grow your business.
Regardless of where you are when it comes to technology and your business, there’s always something to improve.
If You’re a Digital Novice
How is your business doing digitally? If you’re not sure, here are 5 signs you’re behind on the digital times.
- Your business lacks online presence, like a website or social media accounts.
- Your business relies heavily on manual processes, such as paper-based systems or manual data entry.
- There’s limited use of digital tools, such as cloud-based software, online payment systems.
- Your business is resistant to change and does not embrace new technologies or digital trends.
- Your business does not offer a seamless digital experience for customers, and it results in slow-loading websites or poor mobile optimization.
If you’re not digital yet, it’s time to dive in.
Get online to establish a digital footprint
If you want your business to reach a wider audience, increase its visibility by building an online presence. Build your website, create accounts on social media and list your business on various search engines.
Identify your business operations that can be digitized
Start by assessing all the processes and operations in your business that can be digitized. This could include customer relationship management, accounting, inventory management and marketing.
Choose the right digital tools
Once you have identified the processes and operations that can be digitized, choose the right digital tools that can automate those processes. There are many software solutions available in the market that can help you automate tasks like bookkeeping, invoicing, and project management.
Train your employees
Digitizing your small business requires training your employees to use the digital tools you have chosen. Make sure you provide adequate training to ensure that your employees are comfortable using the new digital tools. This can help improve productivity and efficiency within the organization.
Streamline customer communication
Say goodbye to playing phone tag to schedule appointments and searching through a mountain of emails and texts to find important messages. With the right tools, you can simplify your communication processes and improve customer experience.
If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, automate and streamlining your marketing efforts. Greg Doyle, owner of Greg’s Garage in Nevada has a tip. “You need to invest in marketing,” he explains. “You need to put money aside and promote your company as well as be involved in the community.”
With the right software, you can easily track and analyze your marketing campaigns, manage your social media presence and create targeted email campaigns that tailor to your community marketing efforts.
If You’re Digitally Adapted
If you’ve graduated from the last section, great! But, there’s still room to take your digital journey to the next level.
Here are three tasks to digitally optimize your business.
- Enable online scheduling for appointments by integrating a booking system on your website. Look for a software that syncs with your calendar and team’s calendars to easily manage availability.
- Aim to gather more positive reviews so that a single negative review doesn’t drag down your overall rating. An effective strategy to boost your reviews is to automatically send a message to customers after completing a job for them.
- Revamp your payment process by utilizing your system to generate polished estimates and invoices that can be conveniently sent to customers via email or text message. By securely storing their credit card or bank details, you can seamlessly process payments without the need for physical exchange of cards or checks.
If You’re a Digital Hotshot
You understand how digital tools make running your business and keeping customers happy and easier process. You’ve crossed the Ts and dotted your digital Is. We’re tipping our hats to you, but there’s still work to do.
- Optimize your social media efforts. The right software can help you get the most out of every post by linking to all out platforms, and even writing out post for you.
- Offer more payment options like we mentioned before, but go bigger. Lock in a payment software built specifically for small businesses to help you save thousands on processing fees.
- Take the time to integrate your favorite apps into the platform you’re using to run your business. It saves you time on toggling between tabs.
It is also important to monitor and evaluate the performance of your digital tools. This will help you identify areas that need improvement and adjust the processes as needed.
Regular evaluation can also help you stay up to date with the latest technological advancements and improve your business operations accordingly.
Step 3: Use Tech to Take Back Time
As a business owner, it’s important to recognize that technology is a tool, not a solution to all problems. Although technological advancements can certainly benefit your business, they are not the sole determining factor for success.
Rather, it’s the combination of a strategic approach to business and the right technological tools that unlock your business’s full potential.
So how can technology save time on your day-to-day tasks? Through the power of automation.
Break from the Desk:
As your business grows, administrative tasks can consume more of your time, leaving less time to serve your customers. We know that you didn’t start your business to be consumed by busywork. If you’re feeling overrun by administerial duties, you’re not alone.
Almost a quarter of small business owners spend 5 to 10 hours per week on administrative tasks. To optimize your time, consider using technology to automate tasks and streamline your operations.
Small business owners can benefit greatly from automation tools to manage administrative tasks. These tools can help reduce errors, save time, increase productivity, and improve customer service.
Get Paid Quicker:
Creating and sending electronic estimates can save valuable time. This approach allows estimates to become invoices within a click and speeds up the process as customers to approve estimates and finalize payment from their phone.
But this is just one way to create a more streamlined and efficient experience for everyone involved. You can also save time by automating payment reminders to avoid having to chase missing payments.
To take your payment process up a notch by accommodating various preferences. Offer multiple payment options such as credit cards, payment processors, payment plans or automated clearing house (ACH) payments. This way your customers can pay at their convenience and your workers aren’t stuck waiting on checks to be written or making nearly as many bank runs.
Online booking is a valuable tool for both businesses and customers, making the appointment scheduling process faster, more efficient and more convenient for everyone involved.
Booking online allows customers to easily view real-time availability for appointments and choose a time slot that fits their schedule, skipping the back-and-forth phone calls.
By eliminating the need for phone calls, online booking can save customers time and reduce the potential for miscommunication or misunderstandings.
Online booking systems often send automated reminders via email or text message, which can help reduce no-shows and missed appointments that eat up your employees’ time.
Find an online booking platform that allows customers to view and manage their upcoming appointments from their own personal account. This makes it easy for customers to reschedule or cancel without pulling you and your staff from your work.
Running a small business is no easy task. It requires a unique combination of skills, knowledge, and perseverance.
Grant Freeman is the Chief Customer Officer at Thryv.