how to run a business successfully - 7 Ways to nearly guarantee success
The small business is the heart of the US economy, and many people go into business for themselves with a great idea but less knowledge of what it takes to be successful in business. This is one of the reasons why the small business failure rate is so high (50% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years source https://www.entrepreneur.com/starting-a-business/the-true-failure-rate-of-small-businesses/361350).
In this article, we'll provide you with an overview of just what it takes to nearly guarantee success in your small business. You'll discover tips and tricks that could take a lifetime to learn on your own!
And... here we go:
1) Know your competitors
Know who your competitors are and what they do better than you and what you do better than them. When we're in business, we're in a competitive environment. One thing we want to be sure we're not doing is doing business with blinders on. How can you tell how your competitors are doing?
- Listen to complaints from their clients/customers (but don't agree - just listen and empathize where appropriate)
- Read their online reviews
- Visit their website - what information can you get from there?
- Visit their spa/salon/store in person. Even better go in for a service - compare experiences and determine ways to be even better in your business
- External signage
- Access and parking
- Cleanliness inside and out
- Attitude of employees
- How they perform the service
- How they answer the phone
- How they react to you
Do that for every one of your local competitors at least once - you'll be amazed at what you'll learn. When you do visit their spa/salon/store, note the following:
Control costs by knowing how much you're selling products and services for and exactly how much those things cost you to sell.
If you buy something for $10, you can't sell it for $12 and expect to make money.
Your fixed expenses such as rent, power, Internet, etc will never be covered for that margin, and that doesn't even begin to cover labor and other needed expenses.
If you sell something you buy from someone else as is, you must expect to sell it for at least double that cost. If you buy supplies and have to build the things yourself, you must expect to sell those for at least 3 times the cost.
Here's a few other tips that can help you keep costs under control:
- Account for everything it takes to sell that product in the costs - including packaging, shipping, etc
- Negotiate with suppliers - if you're paying retail pricing and selling those things for retail, you already lose money because the market won't support selling much above MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price) and you won't make any profit selling for close to what you paid for it.
- Become a member in wholesale programs such as Honeycomb Wax Company's own wholesale or private label programs. Those programs make it super-easy for retailers to make money because Honeycomb sells top quality products to members at prices they can make a great profit off each item, right out of the box.
Make it easy to do business with you
This is really important because every process that you have that makes it even slightly difficult to do business with you introduces friction in the buy process, and this reduces the number of clients/customers that will use your services.
How difficult is it to do business with you? Here are some very important questions to answer - the answer to all of these should be "Yes!" - there will be more questions you can answer too! Discover them for yourself!
- Is your phone number prominently displayed in your advertising?
- Do you answer your phone most of the time?
- Do you return voicemails quickly most of the time?
- Do you answer text messages from potential and current clients within a short time most of the time?
- Do you have a website? Is the font on the website easy to read and is the website high contrast between text and background??
- Is the process to make an appointment easy for most people?
- Is there a contact form on your website that works properly?
- Do you answer client emails quickly (within 4 business hours) most of the time?
- Do you have an accurate Google Maps listing so people can find your location quickly?
- Is your parking lot or store easy to find for most people?
- Do you have private rooms (or privacy) for service where people feel completely comfortable?
- Is it easy for people to pay you after their service?
- Is it easy for people to book their next appointment after their service?
Constantly market yourself to everyone
Everywhere you go, whether it's for groceries, gas, dining out, or anywhere else, you should be exposing the people you chat with to your business. Even if you don't think THAT person could use your products or services, EVERYONE knows SOMEONE that COULD use them!!
So - how do you strike up a conversation with someone you don't know and you want them to know about your business?
First, no one uses business cards anymore, or do they!? But most businesses use business cards a little differently than in years' past. Business cards should be considered to be invitations! Get some, put an attractive discount offer on them along with your contact info, and hand them out to everyone you see outside your business.
Here's a sample conversation - note how it's completely natural, you involve the person in the conversation and talk about your spa but don't completely take over the conversation:
"Hi! My name is Rhonda - how are you today? Oh your name is Danielle? That's a lovely name! Have you been in the area for a long time? No? Oh well I wanted to invite you over to my spa if you'd be interested in getting waxed! Have you ever been to a spa before? Oh yeah? Tell me how you liked it? Well, I've been around for a couple of years and still have a few openings on my calendar!
Would you be interested? Yes? Great!
Here - here's a business card - it's more of an invitation, really. Because I just met you, I am inviting you to get 25% off your first service!"
TIP - put an expiration date on the offer, and be sure to hand all cards out at least 2 weeks before they expire
Know how you're doing with your current clients/customers
Just like you should know how your competitors are doing with their clients/customers, you should know how you're doing with YOUR clients/customers! There's two reasons why - one is pretty obvious, the second may not be so obvious.
1) When you give an opportunity for clients/customers to express their feelings about their experience with you, you will have more insight and knowledge about how you can improve your business and services even more
2) When you give frustrated clients/customers the opportunity to vent in a manner where they will get positive results from you, they'll be less likely to leave negative comments on social media or tell their friends/relatives/neighbors how horrible the experience was. Plus, when you have the opportunity to make things right, you'll be very likely to turn a negative experience into a positive one for that person and you could very well end up with a loyal client/customer that's now more likely to preach the good things about you and your business!
How can you do this? There are a few ways and there really is no best way - what you do is what you feel comfortable with. One thing though - try to ask yes or no questions that are easy to answer, with an additional section for a comment (or explanation) for their answer.
Were you pleased with today's service? ___Yes ___No How could we have improved?_______________________
Was your esthetician friendly? ___Yes ___No How could they have helped you further?______________
How do you get the answers? Here's some ideas:
- Hand them a survey card in your spa - you could even SASE it (self addressed and pre-stamped so they don't have to pay to return it - you only pay if they actually mail it)
- Do a survey online. SurveyMonkey is a survey service that gives you several free options, and they also have paid upgrades
You'll find that few people will actually fill these out. Keeping them simple will help because everyone is busy and if they're faced with a bunch of questions they'll zone out and not do it.
One thing that really helps is to provide something for filling them out. A 10 or 15 percent discount on the next service is super-helpful in getting more people to fill them out, or even offering a free upgrade to a full-price service. Just experiment to find the winning combination and learn how you can help your business operated at its best!
Strive for efficiency in your operation
Every day we're in business there's waste: wastes of time, wastes of products, wastes of energy. How can we make our operation more efficient?
1) The more experienced you get, the more you're going to know your business and it's needs. For example, are you throwing product away that perhaps with a change in process you wouldn't have to throw away?
2) Is there a way you can save electricity so you can lower your bill? Are you leaving lights or appliances on at night that don't need to be left on?
3) Are you wasting time while performing your service? Are there ways that you can make your service more efficient without sacrificing quality?
Every place you can find to cut costs without cutting the quality of your services is a win for you.
Take time out for yourself so you don't burn out
You're going and going and going...and going... and going. And one day, you look at they way things are going and you're like "I'M SO DONE!!!" You begin sleeping in late, opening the spa late, being less responsible, being angry more, taking things out on others in anger, and worse.
These are some of the symptoms of burnout. You're no longer as excited about the business. You may not even want to go in and work.
The problem with burnout is that sometimes it sneaks up on us, and when we have it, it can be REALLY difficult to get rid of!
The best thing to shoot for regarding burnout is prevention.
The next best thing is to begin recognizing when you are starting to feel burnout and do something about it - before it gets THAT bad.
Burnout prevention techniques:
* Take time for yourself every day - treat yourself to something special, take a walk, take a luxurious bath, get a massage
* If you're so busy you don't have time to do it on one day, set the time on your calendar to do it the next day
* Do not let many days go by without doing at least one of those things for yourself.
* Take at LEAST one day off per week for yourself. Do not do anything in or for your business on this day.
* If you can't get one day off for a week, do NOT let another week go by without getting a day off. You MUST have time off to prevent burnout Beginning
Burnout Mitigation Techniques:
* You are going to need some time away - how long this is depends on how badly you're feeling burned out.
* You may need just a day, or it may take 3 or 4 days off in a row, or longer
Severe Burnout Symptoms and Solutions
* Severe burnout includes feeling like you hate your business like you're a slave to it, not ever wanting to be there again, not wanting to try anymore, having the feeling like you want to give up
* If you are experiencing severe burnout, one thing for sure is you're not making your business as appealing to clients/customers as you should be. You're having a negative effect on your employees, suppliers, and anyone else that you do business with
To solve severe burnout, you need an attitude adjustment:
* One way to accomplish this is to go back to the beginning. Why did you choose to get into the business originally? Can you again find the mojo that excited you about doing business
* The other way to do it is to take a week off. Get away. Focus on having fun, doing things for yourself. Sometimes we just have to close for vacation.
NOW is that time. Get out, have fun, and after the 3rd or 4th day, start considering how you're going to become excited about your business again.
By Day 7, you should have some really good ideas about not only how to get back into it, but possibly you'll have solutions about some nagging problems you've been having.
Success in business is not easily achieved. It takes a very large series of factors being executed intelligently, skillfully, and consistently to achieve the highest possibility of success. Exercising the tips presented in this article will be a big step in the right direction.
We're committed to helping you succeed too!! If you ever have any questions or need anything at all, please contact us right away at firstname.lastname@example.org - we will get back with you quickly with the best answer to your question or need!
Thanks for reading!!