Small Business: Making More With Less

Small Business: Making More With Less

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Your small business has weathered its ups and downs, but the slow economic recovery has caused you to rethink everything. No longer can you expect robust earnings month over month — indeed, just turning a profit can be a big challenge with rising regulations, health care costs, and sharp competition weighing in.

Smart business owners have discovered ways to make more with less. It takes a tough owner to make things happen and the following tips can aid you in your cause.

Time Management

Time sucks will drain your business. The trouble is, they’re not always easily identifiable. A few wasted minutes here and there are not much of a concern, but when added to other minutes throughout your day and week, your productivity can suffer.

Resolve to follow a schedule when running your business. Be purposeful in carrying it out and be intentional in making sure that you stay focused. Do allow for interruptions and other surprises to enter in, but don’t allow them to dictate your day. Set clear, attainable goals and work toward meeting them on a daily basis.

Hire the Right People

No small business can possibly succeed apart from individuals that contribute to the team. You know the importance of carefully hiring the right people — your business’ success depends on qualified individuals.

There are four basic steps to help you find the right people: screening resumes, initial and follow up interviews, testing, and through reference checking. While competence is certainly important, character matters most. You can raise the competency level of a person with character, but you cannot change an individual’s character. Consider starting a new hire off on a trial basis, offering a permanent job once you are satisfied that your criteria has been met. If the person does not work out, you can let him go.

Listen to Your Customers

Your business rises and falls based on what your customer’s think and are saying. No longer can you take any customer for granted — a dissatisfied customer is hard to win back and will share his unhappiness with other people.

Look for ways to “listen” to your customers. Face-to-face contact can tell you much, but if a customer does not volunteer that information, then ask. Survey your customers through polls, online feedback, and social media. Resolve to nip problems in the bud as quickly as possible.

Form a Network

You can’t go it alone these days. Business owners are interconnected, relying on each other to lift each other’s businesses. The Chamber of Commerce can connect you with other businesses, or a group such as Business Networking International may be right for you.

If your business is new, seek one or more mentors. Look for people that can show you the ropes or offer you advice. A group such as SCORE can provide recommendations or connect you with people who have been down your path.

Acquire, Merge, or Sell Out

At some point your business will get on solid ground and expand. That expansion can come in two other ways as well: acquiring a company or merging with another one. Just as easily you may sell out.

Know that changes to your company will also change the way you do business. Acquiring, merging, and selling also mean that your entrepreneurial spirit may be gone, perhaps forever. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change, but understand when the time is right then make your move only when you are ready to do so.

Small Business Success

Your small business success depends largely on your personal drive and ambition. Certainly, outside forces can weigh in, but when push comes to shove, you’re the one responsible for maintaining and advancing your enterprise.

See AlsoThe Daily Challenges of Small Business Owners

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