As a business owner, what do you feel is most important when it comes to building solid small business operations?
I'm conducting a survey of my fellow-business owners to learn what their views are on essential business operations. In building your business sustainably, what elements do you think will most ensure your success?
For any start-up the most important thing to do is to develop a thorough break-even analysis for the first year of operations. This then should be the impetus to develop a business plan that has to be updated annually to insure continuing success.
Many components here.
Hands down (one of the first or most important early on) is it the first person, second person, third person you hire. It's YOUR people serving the potential and actually users or "People," in the 9P's of Marketing.
Be sure with each person you hire as a small business trying to get larger and more profitable, that the company is taking good care of its customers (People), and having the right Planning and targeting (People), the right Product, right Place or distribution, right Price, right Promotion, right Partners, right Presentation, with the right amount of Passion in the Nine P’s.
Here to help.
Personnel, Consistency, & Quality products. If the personnel understands why they are there and is committed to growing the company they will strive for consistency. Quality products can never be UNDERESTIMATED. Word of mouth is the best advertisement. The good and bad news is that they will talk about the experience good or bad; MAKE IT A GREAT EXPERIENCE.
Great question Sarah! There are obviously a ton of elements that go into building a sustainable business but have found a few specific items that really have stuck out to me.
One is to make sure you build solid SOPs (standard operating procedures) for all the actions your business takes so you can efficiently accomplish your tasks as well as make it easy to train current and future employees on these same tasks. You will then need to continuously tweak and improve these as you move forward.
Second will be to make sure you price your services/goods at the appropriate level so you can scale. If you are priced too low or get nervous and start to bring in low margin clients, you will be busy, but not profitable and will be stuck. You also wont' be able to invest back into your company and risk become stagnant. Not to mention, this is won't be any fun and that's why we are doing all of this right?
Third and possibly most important, will be to make sure you build your company with the mindset of culture first. If you have an awesome culture, it will be much easier to get everyone aligned and working towards the same mission. And again, it'll make everything much more enjoyable seeing that we spend more time around our co-workers than we do around our family and friends.
(I felt that I could answer to your post despite being part of a business consultancy, since we are also a small enterprise who supports the operations of small and medium sized businesses. I hope you do not mind)
Small businesses have limited resources. As such the more time one devotes to sales and marketing activities the more the chances to sell. And the more the business sells the higher the chances to be successful.
How does one make more time for sales and marketing? In my opinion it is particularly important to do two things:
a) Standardise internal operations in such a way that as many activities as possible are automated (like company profiles / presentations and offers), and
b) Recognize that having limited resources (people, time and expertise) means that for certain important activities (e.g. financial management, budgeting, legal advice) a small business may not have what it takes internally. Therefore to receive professional support without impairing your chances in the marketplace outsource might be a good answer. Of course these activities may also be done internally either with reduced quality or at the expense of activities that lead to increased sales.
For me these are the guidelines to follow. Of course personalisation is needed to the particular case.
If you need more details or would like to discuss further, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
FairWorks Business Consultants
This is a very good question and specifically for small businesses there is nothing more important than a customer.
The reason is the evolution of small industry started with the requirement of large companies to have a focused and dedicated supplier for their products.
Initially , customers themselves encouraged and diverted sales to small companies who can be their dedicated suppliers and simultaneously grow themselves also.
Even today big multinationals have given birth to many small organizations as a drive to their social and cultural responsibility in many countries. It takes their goodwill to the roots of the country also.
Then definitely the second most important thing is the idea, concept or the product itself which is not common to create these days. Majority of the creativity is either in the service sector or the technology sector which also in a broader perspective comes under service sector.
This is a long discussion and can take a lot of time . But the strength of the customer to give birth to a small business and take it to sustainability is not match able.
Hope you find it helpful.
Best Of Luck,