Individuals are constantly improving themselves by identifying their poor habits and then changing them. Sadly, this attitude is rarely applied to businesses; which is unfortunate because a business should be treated as a living, breathing entity as well. Though you may be familiar with the essentials for an individual to survive—food, shelter, and clothing—the essentials for the survival of a business are not nearly as clear. Therefore, we have compiled a list of what we believe are the Top 10 tips for strategically growing your current business’s profitability. We have come across businesses in all sorts of industries, but seem to notice that the ones suffering share the same problems. Following these simple suggestions will help place your business back on track and result in greater success.
Write down your goals. You may have started your business with big goals and even larger dreams, but time has progressed and the daily complications of running a business may have distracted you from these goals. It’s even more likely that your original goals have now changed. That’s why we suggest all our clients re-write their business goals. Clearly outline what you want to accomplish in the next month, in the next year, and in the next five years. These goals do not necessarily have to be strictly related to financials either, they can include new directions or ideas you may have for the future of your business.
Identify the weaknesses. Next you should identify where your business is most weak so you can focus your efforts on improving that area. But, herein lies the tricky part: being able to identify a weakness is difficult for most business owners, because it often feels like admitting defeat. The business owner is typically too close to the operations to even notice what the weak area is. Therefore, we suggest stepping back from your business, dropping all bias and emotion, and examining it from an outsider’s perspective. Once you have been completely honest with yourself about what your business’s weaknesses are, write them down. These weaknesses do not necessarily have to be related to losses in profit either. They can merely be areas that you feel you aren’t achieving your full potential. Examine every aspect of your company and create an exhaustive list of all of your business’s weaknesses.
Create a plan. Now you have a list of your new goals and a list of your business’s weaknesses. Reconcile these two lists; that is, you must determine what you can do to improve the weaknesses so to reach your ultimate goals. This is truly the difficult element in improving your business, which is why many seek the guidance and advice of business consultants and attorneys. There is no one right answer for how to improve your business’s weakness. Sometimes it is as simple as devoting more time to that area, while other times you may have to admit that there is no solution and determine how to continue your business without the anchor that is holding you down. If done correctly, you should now have a thorough business plan that outlines your problem areas, the solutions to these areas, and how these solutions will accomplish your ultimate goals. This shall serve as your new business plan.
Follow your plan. The most common problem we witness when consulting with businesses is a lack of follow through. People are always excited to fix their business and create a fantastic plan, but never follow through with their plan. Don’t ignore the new plan you’ve created. Take action. Set aside an hour a week to make sure that you are keeping up with your plan, that you are making progress towards improving your weaknesses and are closer to your goal than you were last week. Adhere to the deadlines you set in your plan. If you ever notice something not working, refer back to your plan and try to identify the problem.
Start to socialize. Regardless of what your business does, getting the word out and marketing are crucial to your business’s continued survival and success. A small business’s image is often largely intertwined with the owner’s image. You should become a walking ad for your business. Meet people both in and out of your field and talk about your business as you would about your child. Often times the best leads and results come, not from socializing with others in your industry, but from people that can use your business to further their own interests. A symbiotic relationship between several other businesses and individuals will always prove successful.
Strengthen your online presence. Along with marketing your business by personally socializing with others, a strong online presence is crucial for your business’s continued success. In today’s market, your website is often more powerful than the brick and mortar storefront. If you can create a strong internet presence, you will not only reach more potential clients and customers, but they will also subconsciously respect your business more. No one wants to work with a business that has a website that looks like it’s from 1996. Upgrade your website and social media marketing—such as your Facebook or Twitter—so to create an appearance of success. Often the appearance of success creates confidence in your business that results in more potential clients or customers.
Learn to delegate. Small business owners feel that they must be included in or constantly overseeing every aspect of their business. Sadly, this is a sure fire way to bottleneck your business. Suddenly nothing is accomplished without your permission or direct involvement. Learn to work with and hire competent individuals that understand your goals and can accomplish them without your constant involvement. For this to work, you must be able to identify your own personal strengths and weaknesses and be willing to delegate tasks that are not necessarily your forte. Once you free up your time to focus back on your own strengths and goals, you will notice an improvement in your entire business.
Invest in your strengths. I always explain to my clients that “it takes money to make money.” Now this doesn’t mean to go and suddenly spend thousands of dollars on a new printer when you own a restaurant. Rather, identify where your business makes most of its money by examining your sales or profits. Next, identify where your business is losing the most money. Then, divert the money you are investing in the losing area into the area that is actually profiting. By strengthening the area of your business that has already proven successful, you are only strengthening the entire business. Sometimes it is better to cut off a dying branch on a tree to save the whole. So, reinvest in your strengths.
Learn your competition. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and often the most successful way to grow your own business. There is usually a reason that your competitors are succeeding and you are still struggling. Being able to objectively examine your competition and identifying their strengths is the surest way to improve your own business. The competition has already created a working model for your business, learn it. After learning why your competition is succeeding, try to adapt this information to your own business. This does not mean you should completely copy or steal another business’s model, but use their already successful model to further improve your own.
Enjoy it. There is truly no greater feeling than being your own boss. However, there is no worse feeling than thinking you failed. Remove the negative emotions and remember why you started your own business to begin. Remember the ambition that fueled you. Remember the passion that motivated you. It’s no surprise that people do better at things they enjoy. So reward yourself and your employees in the small victories that you accomplish. Seeing reward for your hard work will only drive you to work harder. I always advise my clients to remove all emotion from your business so it can operate smoother, but a little positive emotion pumped into the business won’t ever hurt.
Do you need help achieving any of these goals? Contact Barrington Legal for expert, personalized business guidance from experienced attorneys. Visit us at www.BarringtonLegal.com and like us at www.facebook.com/BarringtonLegal. Eamon Jafari, Esq. is a founding attorney at Barrington Legal, a full service law practice that prides itself on helping small business owners and entrepreneurs.