Working with small business clients we often see struggles between the owner and their employees. The owner is great at what they do, but managing others they often lack the training and skill-sets required. Managing others in conducting your business can be challenging if you let it. As a small business owner with employees you can improve the effectiveness of you as a manager and ensuring employees are productive, efficient and effective. Management/supervision can be summed up in three primary activities; 1. Set Clear Expectations; 2. Reinforce Expectations; 3. Be consistent.
Setting clear expectations for what you expect from employees is the foundation for ensuring they understand and are able to complete tasks and duties as you want them to be completed. Never assume that employees fully understand your expectations without an explanation and better, a demonstration. For example; an administrative assistant is asked to create a spreadsheet of recent sales. Be clear in giving directions by starting with, "This is what I want it to look like" - showing an example or sketching it out on a piece of paper. "This is where the information comes from to complete the spreadsheet." When possible, demonstrate how to complete a line or two of the spreadsheet then have them complete one while you watch and coach them through the process. Always remembers that a majority of your employees will want to complete the work as you want it be completed, just make sure they fully understand what is expected.
Reinforce expectations with employees that appear to deviate from the process, or fail to meet your expectations. Do this quickly, don't wait for them to completely fail before you become engaged with them. Use a coaching approach to help motivate the employee. This not only helps them do better, but you save time, money as you won't have to correct work that is not what you expected. Not taking quick actions to correct improper work allows employees to develop bad habits that will be more difficult for them to correct the longer they fail to perform their duties adequately. For example; one of business owners noticed that his receptionist would answer the phone with a nice and polite, "Hello" instead of providing the business name and asking, "How may I help you?". He approached her with a coaching mindset, "You are so polite in answering the phone. That's great. Remember when answering the phone to say "Hello" just like you are doing but remember to say our business name then ask how you can help them. He made sure to listen out for the next few calls to ensure she understood.
Be consistent in setting your expectations and reinforcing them. Inconsistency is the common mistake managers make when working with employees. Being inconsistent in setting and reinforcing expectations sends mixed signals to employees, making it difficult for them to ensure they are working appropriately. In our training we warn managers and supervisors that being consistent with all employees, all of the time, not only reinforces expectations, it creates a happier work environment. What better job to have than to clearly know what is required to be successful.
Setting clear expectations, reinforcing them and being consistent will help you avoid disciplinary actions which are never fun for the owner/manager or the employee. Also, this will ensure that your business maintains a great presence with your customers.
There are many companies that advertise they will increase the visits to your website. Chances are you have received emails from "individuals' that have found issues with your website and they promise to increase the number visits to your website if you hire them. From our experience, the Pro's are they will increase visits to your website, the Con's are many of the visits are not real people, or not people interested in your business. In other words, increased website visits do not translate to sales.
It is important to understand some basic, key methods that web search engines employ for their users.
Geography - Probably the most important is relevancy of any web search you conduct as related to your specific location. Maybe you search for car repair. Chances are the search results will be for car mechanics near you at the time you conduct your search. Of course this is of great benefit for the user as they don't have to search through car mechanics that in California when they are in Georgia on the side of the road.
User information - Search engines also utilize information that is known about the user. This information includes geography, previous searches, and the type of sites you have visited in the past - which pages you opened the most based on a search. For example; yesterday you searched for "flower pots". Today you enter a search term, "10" pot". Chances are the results you receive from a search engine will be focused on flower pots instead of cooking pots, or crock pots.
Algorithms - Using various algorithms, based on the user, search engines scour the Internet for websites with the most relevant content to what they project will be what the user is looking for. This is a great advantage for the user as search results are focused on the user.
Getting additional traffic to your website is specific to the user conducting the search and the search engines interpretation of what the user is looking for. So if you sell flower pots, and you include keywords, site content specific to flower pots, you won't get web site visits for individuals looking for cooking pots. Employing a company to assist you in developing your website content so that users can find content specific to them is a great idea, but beware of companies that offer to increase your web site visits only.
Focus on your content, the text you use, and include location information if serving a specific area to help increase your web site visits by people that will be interested in what you have to offer rather than multiple website visits by individuals, or programs, that have no interest in your products. The goal is to have your website displayed in search results for users that have an interest in your products and services. A task that search engine providers are already working on.
These are our observations and musings only presented as food for thought, not necessarily fact other than they are factual in our immediate environment.
Over the past several years, many large retailers that have long been the mainstay of the retail industry seem to be fading. Most recently Sears appears to be heading in that direction. Malls, once a focal point of shopping and social life are closing as they lose their "anchor" stores such as JCPenney, and Sears. Anchor stores created foot traffic for smaller retailers that would compete to have locations next the bigger stores.
What is happening? From our observation most recent changes are founded on convenience for the consumer. Product delivery, technology, and the ability to shop wisely using the Internet to research purchases appear to be driving consumer behavior.
Consider, depending on where you live, you can buy groceries, make other product purchases, even visit your doctor for minor ailments, all without leaving your home. This is convenience in saving you time, and often money.
Over the next few years consumers will continue to turn to convenience in purchasing products they need or want. Most researchers still predict that brick and mortar stores are still here to stay, but retailers will need to turn to convenience to meet consumer demands. You may have seen a few of these early trends to make shopping more convenient whether it is making your purchases online and having them ready for pickup when you arrive at the store, to retailers offering free delivery in addition to allowing you to complete your purchase in the store.
Improvements in product delivery are shaping the consumer experience. At the beginning of a work week a consumer can make online purchases and have them delivered within a few days. Grocery stores are joining this trend as well allowing you to make online purchases and having them delivered to your home. For the busy worker this is a great way to save time by avoiding driving to the store and standing in long checkout lines.
Technology is one of the main drivers in consumer trends, impacting consumers from online shopping, researching products before they buy, and the providing the ability to use voice search, our own digital assistants to help us identify and make our purchases - e.g. Google Home, Amazons Alexis, etc. Consumers are now entering a phase where interacting with technology using their voice is adding additional conveniences. In time, as these services expand, consumers are likely to turn to technology more and more as a digital assistant.
Consider the last major purchase you made. Chances are you researched your purchasing options using the Internet whether researching product options, availability, and reading reviews of the products you chose to purchase. Search engines are making it easier for us to find products that are not only close to us in terms of geography, but offering online purchase options as well. Consumers are turning more and more to the Internet for information before they buy and what they find is influencing their purchasing decisions.
So what does this mean for small business owners? Many small businesses are already utilizing the Internet and other technologies to provide convenience for their customers whether making online purchases for delivery to their homes, or allowing them to book appointments online for services from hair appointments, to making purchases prior to arriving at the store.
Looking ahead, small business owners need to further incorporate technology, delivery, and pre-purchase for store pickup options to meet the needs of their customers. Consider how to make shopping more convenient for your customers utilizing the tools and resources they have available to them whether it is store delivery, product information available online for research, and purchasing products for delivery to their homes and offices.
"Ok, Ok, Ok, Ok!!!" You have formulated a small business idea and you are ready to get started but how, where, and when???? (These are our opinions, not the only answers)
Determining the legal structure of your business is the first step. Will it be a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, etc. The legal framework will protect you, your employees to some extent and it is a critical decision to be made. Learn as much about the advantages and disadvantages for each structure. Talk with legal counsel as well. Learn more at IRS Business Structures.
At the same time, begin identifying and collecting the capital you will need to start your business. If you are opening a physical location, having enough capital to pay your rent or real estate loan payments for several months is advisable. Starting any business takes time and you need time to grow your customer base.
Your branding and marketing campaigns should be started once you have set an opening date and established your legal status as a business. (Note: You may need to clearly identify what legal status your business is in your advertising.) This allows you to get your company in front of potential customers before your doors open. Get help if branding and marketing is not one of your strengths. Factor those costs into your budget.
Simultaneously, gather supplies, materials, and other items you will need to effectively run your business. Once you open it will be hard to find time to complete some of the simplest tasks like ordering office supplies.
All of these items can be addressed in a small business strategic plan. Carefully thinking through today what you will need to do tomorrow will ensure you are organized and prepared. (See our blog, "Strategic Planning for Small Business")
The best advice we can give is get going. Start with your business idea, identify a start-up date and get to work. Some of the best small business "ideas" remain just an idea unless you create a plan and put it into motion.
Best wishes with your small business!!!!
"Guaranteed Success!!!!" Arghhhh.....there are several advertisements out there that guarantee your small business success or growth. Unfortunately most are not true without other key elements.
Your success depends on several factors:
Next time you see one of those ads guaranteeing growth of your business, increased traffic to your website, consider, "What do they know that I don't?"
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950 Eagles Landing Pkwy, Suite 422
Stockbridge, GA 30281