More than often, we see business owners who are unable to make that transition from a “regular” business into a “great” business. They feel stuck and are not able to conjure or bring together the necessary resources and vigour to make their business reach the next level. Alternatively, some entrepreneurs seem to have a prodigious understanding of the bigger picture and can focus their energies on transforming the business into something worthwhile & lasting altogether.
In this blog, we like to engage readers, especially entrepreneurs who seem to be running short of ideas and need guidance to kick-start their business journey again. It is specifically meant for entrepreneurs who require a real dose of inspiration and knowledge, which seem to be missing in their approach. We attempt to make the reader understand what can be done to make your small business move a generation ahead. Here we go:
Tips for Moving a Small Business a Generation Ahead
I. Utilise an Omnichannel Approach
In these changing times, e-commerce is fast catching up with regular retail. Businesses must be ready to pivot their business strategy when it comes to sales channels. If you are strictly a brick-and-mortar business, you need to make that transition towards online business and vice versa. With this, there also needs to be an evolution of strategy when it comes to reaching out to customers.
In the case of physical stores that have just transitioned online, there needs to be an emphasis on creating exhaustive e-mail lists to reach out to customer inboxes. Similarly, if you an online company, there needs to stress on including traditional marketing or offline approaches such as direct mail. By using a combination of multi-channel approaches, gauge the amount of traction you generate with your customers. Identify and recognise the emerging pattern and tweak your overall strategy in line with observed results.
II. Use the 60:40 Rule for Time Management
Steer clear of using 100% of your time sorting out the day-to-day functioning of the business. Instead, use a strategic approach to time management. Use 60% of your time for tasks that truly add value to your business which cannot be done by anyone else. The rest of the 40% needs to be allotted strictly for planning and strategising.
To put it in perspective, planning will include dedicating time to resources & schedules pertinent to the smooth running of the business operations. Whereas strategising will include identifying and evaluating opportunities for improved business performance and improving other facets of the business, such as improving customer service, existing revenue model, and so on.
III. Use Social Media the Right Way
Most small businesses tend to falter when it comes to usage of social media, and they make the fundamental mistake of selling overtly on social media. Every small business needs to understand that marketing and sales are two separate entities, and going with a sales-only strategy on social media is not going bear results. Instead of direct on-the-face selling, approach your audience with content that matters and helps build a relationship with them. The content can be tips, tricks, hacks or industry insights, anything which offers value and meaning.
The rule-of-thumb over here is that “you give more than you take.” Giving away your knowledge and insights for free can ensure that when it comes to purchasing, the prospect, by all means, is likely to go with a brand they are familiar with and trust wholeheartedly. This is a failsafe strategy that is likely to bring the desired results in the long term. A seasoned businessman will always understand the value of making moves for the long term without looking for short-term gains.
IV. Form an Advisory Board
Business owners always are on the lookout for a sounding board, where they can present their new ideas and get feedback and corrective steps to proceed ahead. One of the best ways of accomplishing this is with an advisory board. This would be the “brain trust” of the company where new ideas will be presented, nurtured and implemented as per the merit of the idea.
Such a board can be instrumental in offering ideas to overcome current and future challenges facing the business. This can be a small group of individuals with good knowledge of running a business, and you can meet with them every quarter to iron out issues and formulate a strategic plan. Moreover, having an advisory board can increase a business’s value and reputation and provide the business with immediate access to mentors for achieving the business goals.
V. Create Essential Downtime
Being a business owner is round-the-clock responsibility, but business owners do not assimilate the necessity of downtime. Or, for some reason or the other, underestimate the utility of taking a break. Just like any other profession, there is the imminent danger of “burn-out” if you push yourself beyond the expected limits.
You can be churning out 70-80 hr workweeks, but as a human being, it will take its toll on the body and the mind. Taking a break does not mean completely switching off; rather, the effort is to take some time off away from the business to re-strategise. It can help refocus on your short and long-term priorities and recharge your batteries for fighting business battles that lay ahead.
VI. Ask for Help
There can be entrepreneurs who might implicitly believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Or maybe of the opinion that an entrepreneur must find out answers to the tough questions. You may be right, but after having done all that is necessary, if the pertinent answer still eludes you, then it is the right time to seek help.
You might be surprised that people, even complete strangers, may graciously offer help when asked. This can drastically change your perspective towards life when it comes to asking for help. Now that you have received help, it is in your best interest to reciprocate or offer help to someone completely unknown. The fact of the matter is that you are not an expert but an entrepreneur – you need not necessarily have all the answers. It is through asking and sharing and we create new possibilities in both business and life.
VII. Be Driven by Finer Details
It is extremely important to create effective systems and processes to find discrepancies in costs and revenue to improve profitability. We are in a digital age, and businesses have an abundance of data flowing in from POS systems, inventory management, bookkeeping practices, etc. A definite set of processes and procedures centred around data will help understand and fix an emerging anomaly faster before it gets out of hand.
Moreover, it is seen often that entrepreneurs get carried away by the bigger picture when the “devil is in the detail.” A business owner could assume a new product is selling like hot cakes, but the true picture only emerges when they closely look at the numbers. An entrepreneur must be driven by the finer details when it comes to facts and figures.
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Q. How long can a business take to reach the next level?
Ans. There can be no clear answers to this question, but it primarily depends on the owner/ founder how they handle the business. If the business remains agile, lean, and nimble in its initial stages with the capacity to pivot quickly, the chances of success are quite high.
Q. Can business experts/ analysts predict the success of a small business?
Ans. This will primarily depend on the data with which they are making the prediction. If the balance sheet of the business shows impressive growth with a promising product pipeline. Most analysts will be going with a thumbs up.
Q. Are mentors critical to the success of a business?
Ans. It is a common belief that it is “lonely at the top.” An entrepreneur can sometimes become disillusioned with the pressures & responsibilities of the business. Hence, it is always a good idea to have a mentor who will provide the helping hand in critical times and the necessary “pat on the back” when things go well.