I’ve always said that working in a restaurant is the best experience for a small business owner. Juggling 100 things in minutes is a skill you must learn when you are a waiter or an entrepreneur. The purpose of this list is to help remind small business owners of the little things that get lost when juggling all the working parts of running a business.
Here are 10 super smart small business tips to help you figure out how to run your business better.
Vision & Mission
What was the concept for your business when you were first starting out? Recapture that love, drive and vision. Dust off that business plan (if you don’t have one – write one) keep your mission on a post-it, write it on a wall, put it as a reminder in your phone – no matter what you need to do to keep it fresh in your mind… do it. Remembering your ‘why’ is the most important part of your business. It’s the glue that keeps you together and actively participating and keep it alive.
Tell your customer what you can do for them, how you can help or provide value. Clearly identify what your business does. The smart business tip is to use the most frequent customer questions to drive clarity into your business. If your customers ask similar questions then you know your brand message is not clear.
Update Yo Self
Your forms, contracts, invoices, project and team management and accounting need updating. A lot of businesses today are using accounting software, team and project management tools and contract documents that were state of the art in 1995. If the past decade has taught us anything, it’s that computers and their software are hella smart. Get with the times man.
There are hundreds of fantastic new tools out there and they did not come installed on your computer or are more advanced, powerful and useful than Quickbooks. The more advanced you get the more time you are saving.
Get involved! Join the chamber of commerce, community associations, organizations and networking clubs. Even though we’re all pressed for time and technology makes it easy to not see people face to face, for the benefit of your business it’s extremely important.
From giving back and assisting your community to network with your peers the return on your community investment will be well worth your time.
Your employees matter. Their opinions matter. Their insight and experiences working within your business matter. No matter the size of your business; listening to your employees is imperative to fully understand and keep updated with your employees. From performance issues to customer service keeping your employees engaged and excited and heard is invaluable.
Switch it up! Attitude is everything. A negative attitude decreases success and a positive attitude creates success. Without that belief in your business, you’ll never get anywhere. If times are tough or finances are getting low – change the game plan. I don’t mean changing what you do or sell, but try something new to market it or get it ‘out there’. Try something different and change your attitude.
Having enough staff – whether it’s an intern and you are a business of one or a diner open 24 hours a day. Staffing is the single greatest issue – it’s hard, sometimes employees are more work than your business itself, but not having enough staff is more harmful to your business than the expense. Nothing is worse than promising more than you can deliver or a restaurant full of customers on a surprise busy night – have staff on speed dial. (that is an archaic expression – I guess you say to keep them in your favorites now- a-days).
Dig deep, and check your books. Years ago a client was having a very tough time financially, and with the support of the manager they were able to cut costs for cheaper paper cups to extracting needless condiments from the self-serve coffee bar. With a simple look at a spreadsheet they were able to save hundreds of dollars per month. Take a look at what you buy every month, from shipping and packaging supplies, subscriptions to ink toner.
Your rapport with your clients, customers or users needs to be rekindled and reevaluated the same way any relationship in your life does. Take the time to check-in and find out what your customers think of your products, services and your business as a whole. Pay attention to the details or read between the lines when they give you their opinions, it’s not easy, especially for businesses that rely on technology or provide services that don’t come into contact with customers or clients directly like a store or restaurant.
Take a Break
Nothing. And I mean Nothing screws up your business more than you being tired, cranky, irritable and in need of a rest or reprieve from your day-to-day. It’s a sad way of life us Americans work all the time and forget about family, friends and the value of relaxing with a good book. They don’t call it “Running a Business” for nothing… you literally run your ass off. Usually, the best way to improve your business and re-ignite your passion is to take a break…. and by break I don’t mean a bottle of wine while watching Scandal.
If you have a tip to keep your head above water and be mindful of the little things that are important for your business let me know in the comments below or tweet them to @jenlew.