Sharpen your small business owner mindset with these 7 tips.
Being a business owner is a dream of many; but a reality of only a few. Especially when it comes to actually making it in the small business space. It requires persistence, preparation and dedication. If your mindset is stuck in "no matter what, I'm gonna make this work!" then you might be ok. For the rest of you, who are looking for a little push in the right direction, here are some great tips.
Know your customers
This goes with any business, big or small. If you don't know your target buyer, you'll have a hard time establishing long-term customer relationships. You could spend months marketing to the wrong people. You might even push away customers simply because your promotional efforts are so off base.
Create an experience
It's not only about what you're selling, but also how you're selling it. Let's say you're shopping for a new car. How would you feel if you drove up to a lot, and ordered the new vehicle, fast food style? You weren't allowed to test drive or shop around. You couldn't look inside any of the vehicles. You just had to take a stab at what you wanted, run your credit card and pull up front. That would be a total bummer. Shoppers want an experience. Depending on the item, there might be a bit of hand holding involved.
Treat staff like family
Respect your employees and their time. Pay them fairly. Give them continuing education opportunities.
On the same token, don’t let anyone take advantage of your generosity. Know when to draw the line. For example, if your inventory manager calls in once a week due to family emergencies; that’s definitely excessive. But, if on occasion, something urgent comes up, cut them some slack.
Set clear protocol from day one
If you don’t set expectations, you can’t expect greatness. Not everyone functions on the same frequency you do. Some people are perfectly content just getting by.
If you want your employees to shoot for the moon, you have to create a motivational work environment. For example, let’s say you own a local bar and grill. If you’re constantly on your phone, texting friends and surfing Facebook every free minute you get; you’re setting a poor example.
Set time aside for one on ones
As a small business owner, you also have the opportunity to be a mentor. You can guide your employees, and encourage them to grow; both personally and professionally. Schedule quarterly one on ones. Sit down with each individual, and review their progress. Offer both positive and constructive feedback. Set goals, and match these with realistic incentives.
Keep a close eye on the competition
Should you live and die by what your competitors are doing? Absolutely not. But, you can’t also turn a blind eye to the progress of your industry as a whole.
You don’t want to live your days keeping up with the Joneses, but you also can’t ignore what’s going on around you. This isn’t a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil type situation. Your competition could very well be thriving, and you need to know what’s giving them that spark.
Become one with your numbers (or hire someone who will)
Money coming in doesn’t necessarily mean money going in your pocket. If you spend frivolously, you’ll pull the rug right out from underneath your business growth. One day, you’ll have cash; the next day you won’t. If you aren’t a huge fan of the accounting lingo, that’s fine. But hire someone who is. No matter what, you need to have a clear vision of your financials. Quarterly projections are an absolute must.
Create a long-term vision
Get as specific as possible. Where do you want your business to be in six months, one year, five years?
- How involved do you want to be in the day to day operations?
- What numbers do you want to hit, sales-wise?
- How many people do you want to have on board?
- If you asked a random stranger on the street about your company, how would they describe it?
Align with your core mantras
Not trying to get all hippy girl on you, but daily mantras are good to have in your back pocket. They help guide you during those off days, awful customer service experiences and more. When you've lost hope in being a business owner, they give you something to hang on to. Everyone looks to different sources for motivation. Figure out what makes you tick, and then jot down a few quick statements that inspire you.
Now, don't let all this overwhelm you. It's meant to encourage. See, once you get your mind right, and embrace these thought patterns; the small business world is your oyster.
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