Small businesses can grow both in boom times and in periods of difficulty by consistently working smart and taking advantage of opportunities. To ensure that your business can do the same put these 10 quick and effective tips into practice.
1. Utilise new technology
Modern technology can help save you time, improve your productivity and reduce your overall operational costs. Make use of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other available social media platforms and tools to market your business.
Dropbox, a cloud-based service is also available for document creation and sharing while Skype can be used for calling or video conferencing amongst your team and with clients.
2. Communicate better
Always remember to take a friendly but professional approach to any form of customer interaction. This includes written invoices, quotes and emails. It also helps to come up with a set of guidelines for dealing with customers, both in writing and over the phone.
Reply to messages and inquiries as soon as possible. Taking too long to return a call or an email may lead to losing a potential customer to a competitor.
You can also try writing a blog or a column about your chosen industry or market. Consider sponsoring an event or giving your products or services as gifts to a local sports team, community group or school.
3. Be more innovative
Even if your products and/or services are selling well you need to constantly look out for new ways to refine your business’s operations. Organise regular brainstorming sessions and invite your team to share their ideas on ways to improve your products and/or services.
4. Tighten up your credit policies
For any orders or transactions make sure your customer completes a credit application. It is also important that they understand your terms of trade. Encourage your customers to clear payments promptly by emailing or posting invoices and giving clients a clear timeframe to pay.
Occasionally revisit your terms of trade to makes any necessary changes if need be.
5. Improve your record keeping
If you’re selling products, keep a record of every product sold and ensure you’re aware of how much stock you have. There are free or low-cost point-of-sale (POS) computer programs that allow you to manage your stock inventories. They also provide you a record of each product you’ve sold.
Create a database for future follow-ups by recording your clients’ names.
6. Join business associations and organisations
Business associations and organisations give you access to industry leaders and current innovations and developments within your business’s market as long as you pay an annual membership fee.
They hold regular events, seminars, short courses and networking evenings that can help you meet other business owners, identify key investors and learn more about your industry.
7. Develop a website
If you’re a well-established business potential customers will be searching for you on the Internet—most of the time, even before they pick up the phone or walk through your door. An effective website needs to be functional. It needs to communicate both your offer and your point of difference.
8. Manage your time more effectively
Take note of where your time is going each day. Some tasks can be consolidated or completed at a dedicated time each week. There are free or low-cost time management tools such as Toggl and Google Drive that allow you to monitor your daily workload and generate weekly reports.
9. Buy good quality business cards and use them
Take any opportunity to hand out your business card whenever you meet new people—even outside of work.
10. Generate referrals
There are various ways to create referrals and grow your business. It is essential that your small business harness a variety of methods that fit its specific requirements. The goal is to grow the business sustainably so take enough time to plan ahead and try some new approaches.