When it comes to seeing continued success in your business, you must keep growing, changing and making improvements. Many of these changes are slow and could require years to see the results of your work, such as a long-term financial or marketing strategy. There are some things you can start implementing today, however, that can improve your business and allow you to take a proactive approach to problems that may be obstacles to your success.
Take charge of your bookkeeping: Oftentimes, a lack of organization in your finances can become a root cause of a cash flow and budgeting issues. Finances can sometimes overwhelm a business-owner, especially for a smaller operation. When you fully own your bookkeeping and are intimately familiar with your budget, you can make decisions based on a full understanding of your financial situation. When working with your outside help, make sure you are constantly in the loop and up to date on everything they’re doing.
Make customer service your main priority: When was the last point of contact with your clients? Did you reach out with a phone-call or email? When was the last time you called a client just to check in? When you make customer service your main priority, your clients feel valued and want to continue working with you. They will share their experiences and this indirectly improves the value of your business. If something goes wrong – a communication error, less than amazing service, etc.- make it right by offering a discount or a free service, and an apology.
Avoid customer service mishaps by streamlining processes and having clear instructions: Oftentimes, customer service issues arise when instructions and processes are unclear, such as payment requirements, service details or deadlines. Ensure that you make your expectations and processes clear on the front end (in writing, on your website, in a contract) so that you do not have to remedy a situation with a confused and disgruntled customer later.
Have a plan for unforeseen circumstances: Spend some time taking inventory of the activities and materials that are vital to your business (even something as simple as Internet, databases, telephone, etc.) and then devising a plan of action to address any obstacles to continuing business as usual. This can save you time and money if and when a “disaster” strikes your business. Check out this blog post to learn how to create a Business Resumption Plan for your business.
Increase employee engagement: Your employees can become your biggest assets as brand advocates. Encourage them to be involved the business as much as possible, either by referring to them for their opinion, recognizing jobs well done, and encouraging a positive, social environment. When your employees believe in your message, this comes across to your potential clients. A happy employee is a productive one!
As you can see with this list of suggestions, you do not have to wait years or break the bank to see improvements in your business. What other tactics can you think of that can improve your business now? I look forward to your thoughts below.
You would be surprised to learn how many business owners update me about their business by saying, “Business would be great – except for the people.” While some may be joking, there is some truth in some business owners’ struggles to relate, understand and manage the people they hired into their company. Every business has a mosaic of personalities, and as business owner or manager, it falls on you to facilitate the highest performance possible from each person to keep your business profitable. What do you do when you find it difficult to work with certain people or you identify conflicts between employees? Some employees may be more social or introverted; aloof or friendly; self-directed or needs direction; linear thinker or big-picture; detail-oriented or conceptual. Here’s how you keep business great while leveraging the talent of your employees.
Set expectations for the company: Implementing clear company expectations is important for you as a business-owner because it sets a standard of performance that you expect to see from everyone that has been clearly communicated and understood. Whether it is punctuality, deadlines or the completion of admin tasks, you can always refer to these expectations with employees to determine if there are any discrepancies between what you expect and their current performance.
Use assessment tools: Set aside time for your employees to utilize workplace personality or interpersonal assessment tools so that they have a chance to learn more about their traits and tendencies and how they fit into the larger business team. As a business-owner, you will have a clearer image of how your employees fit together as a team, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If you’re unsure of which assessments are available to you, there are many free resources online, such as the Myer’s Briggs Personality Assessment (link) or True Colours (link) that can help guide your conversation.
Have regular performance meetings: Once you have an understanding of the different strengths and weaknesses within your team, you can initiate ongoing conversations surrounding self-awareness and professional development with your employees. For example, if you have an employee who is now conscious of her tendency to dismiss others’ ideas during meetings, your coaching conversations should involve improving her open-mindedness.
Delegate with differences in mind: Having a better understanding of your employees will help you understand what tasks are best suited to which employees, which can improve motivation and job satisfaction, as people are more likely to perform better at tasks they enjoy doing. When possible, identify tasks that highlight the strengths of your employees, such as delegating a business development task to an employee who is sociable and shines in a networking setting.
Support weaknesses: It’s important not to ignore weaknesses as they surface during this process. Encourage your employees to embrace areas where they can build and learn from you and your colleagues.
Encourage team building: While understanding is a big step to managing differences on a team, making an effort to build team and encouraging relationship-building is equally important. Encourage your employees to get to know each other, either informally or through team-building activities, so that they can get a clearer picture of WHO their colleagues really are. This builds mutual empathy and an appreciation between colleagues, so that even if some elements of a person are frustrating or difficult to deal with, your employees are able to see positive elements of their colleagues as well.
Do you see a variety of differences among the people in your business? How have you leveraged strengths and weaknesses on your team? I look forward to your thoughts below!