I recently read an article by Barry Thomsen. He puts out the Small Business Idea-Letter. You can find is content at http://www.idealetter.com. The article was titled “It takes time for a business to put up a closed sign.”
The article hit home on a key point that I tell many business owners who are struggling; “It’s not what you did yesterday that got you here. It’s what you have done over the past several months or years.” Almost nothing happens overnight. Most problems start out benign. They are symptoms to a larger ailment and they may go unchecked because at the time they seem to be a nuisance instead of a larger problem. They are put off because people are too busy dealing with the daily issues to worry about them. Often when companies realize they need to fix these issues, it may be when they no longer have the time or the resources to do so.
Here’s Barry’s list. It’s a pretty good one. I have abbreviated the original article to fit in this blog. If you would like the original article, please contact Barry at www.idealetter.com.
Customer Care: Treat your customers well or they will spend their money elsewhere.
Marketing: You must advertise and promote your business. Hanging out your sign is not enough.
Owner Attitude: Make sure your attitude is one that people want to do business (or work) with.
Training/Development: Customers want a knowledgeable, courteous staff. Continually develop your people.
Spending: Manage your money wisely. A growing business needs capital. Lavish trips and expensive equipment can cost you dearly.
Ownership: Stay connected to your business. Pay attention to the details so your business will grow.
Business Knowledge: Get to know the business basics, take courses, read and learn.
Salaries: Keep your pay and that of your employees at an affordable level. Reward for outstanding performance.
Keep up to date: Your products and services have to keep up with the times.
Ownership Change: If you bought into a business, you need to learn what the customers expect. Cutting corners could cut your sales.
Build Reserves: Keep cash on hand for the lean times
Product Mix: Learn what your customer is looking for.
Pricing: Make sure your pricing matches what you are offering. If prices fall too far out of line, you may lose your customers.
Big Accounts: While those accounts may pay well, they will cost you dearly should you lose them. Balance out your business so you don’t have too many eggs in one basket.
Taxes: Keep up to date on your taxes. Falling behind here can be costly.