It doesn’t matter what type of small business you have, there are office tasks you have to complete to operate successfully. In this article we are going to discuss some key operations that you need to have in place to make your business run effectively, efficiently, and, most importantly, economically. We call this the three “E’s” to successful small businesses.
Method for tracking your business expenses and income. Maybe you are starting with only a few customers and keeping handwritten or developing your own spreadsheet seems sufficient. In time, as business grows, and your memory fades, you need to have a method to easily track your finances. Plan for business growth at the start with a method, or program that will meet future growth needs. Accurate financial records are needed for the dreaded tax season and to ensure you are being profitable. Several programs are available that are free and those you pay for, that will help you track your expenses.
Again, no matter the business you need the appropriate technology to operate your business. Technology includes devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, or technology specific to your business offerings. The list goes on and on and greatly expands depending on the business you have. It is critical that you budget for a technology refresh throughout the life of your business. As technology advances occur rapidly, you need to refresh your technology on a regular recurring basis, often every 3-4 years. Refreshing your technology improves efficiency. Reduced time waiting on slow computers, or having to develop work-around's where technology outpaces your existing devices.
Internet Presence & Management
In this category we include email, web pages, and even social media if you are so inclined. Having a business web page and social media presence increases your reach to customers. Those that do business with you on a regular basis, and potential new customers often look online for contact information, to learn more about your business. Forget the idea that having a web page will increase your business overnight. From our experience, word-of-mouth advertising, then being easily found on the web is what builds your business. Chances are you will need business email to send invoices, communicate with customers, and to receive information about your business.
In any small business you will have suppliers that provide services and products to keep your business going. Develop relationships, shop around for suppliers that can provide you with discounts. If you are a consultant that travels, consider using the same motels to get preferred status as well as business travel discounts, and ease of tracking travel expenses. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts in the beginning or if you have been a long time customer. Reducing your supply costs increases your profit margin.
Hard copy and electronic files need to be handled in a consistent manner to increase your efficiency, reducing time to locate what you need when you need it. Take time to develop a logical filing system, one that is not overly complicated. Include email filing as well. (See article on Email Organization) Include working methods that improve your effectiveness in accomplishing office tasks. Schedule time each day or a few times a week to focus on the filing and work systems to keep your business operating smoothly.
All of these ideas, or considerations, will help you operate your business effectively, and efficiently, which equals working more economically, saving you time and money. Set a reminder on your calendar every six months, maybe with a link to this article, to review each area presented and see where you can improve.
You have decided that you are going to start your own small business. It's an exciting time and there is a lot to do. One of the critical "To-Do's" that should be on your list is your website and office technology needs. Why?
First, understand that your website is only a small part of your company's technology needs. Your email addresses, color schemes, logo and back office functions are interconnected to your company's web page. The minute you decide you are going to launch your own business is the day you need to begin creating and implementing your company technology needs.
Must haves from day one:
Second, avoid these:
Again, think of your company website as only one small part of your business technology. It should tie in to your email, forms, and other communications related to your business. Starting it early in the business development and launch process will pay you dividends in the long run. Profit in your pocket!!!
Outsourcing functions to operate your small business makes sense in some cases. As a small business owner, it is often difficult to let go of specific tasks, the thought of paying someone else to do something you feel you can do. Here are a few ideas to consider when trying to determine if outsourcing makes sense:
Outsourcing can make a lot of business sense to improve your business in several areas. Outsourcing will help you grow your business, increase customer satisfaction and provide you with time to focus on aspects of the business that are important to you.
Establishing rapport with a potential client or with customers will provide many benefits for a small business. Establishing rapport allows the individuals to gain each others trust, and remain open to their ideas which translates to word-of-mouth advertising, and repeat business. For most small business owners, establishing rapport with their clients and customers is a great way to build trust in their business.
Consider someone that you do business with that has established a good rapport with you. Bet you feel comfortable, even glad to interact with them. My local dry cleaner is a great example. Over a period of a few visits he made a point to learn a little about me with simple questions, "Do you have far to drive to work?", "Do you need suits for work?". Each time I return he asks about my work, or commute, or family. I enjoy dropping off and picking up my dry cleaning even though our interactions are only a few minutes out of the day. Using rapport building, I've learned about him as well.
Building rapport is easy and only takes a few minutes. Here are a few steps to building rapport:
1. Take a minute to "chit-chat", get to know the individual - Use your visual observation skills to identify topics that may be of interest to the individual. Maybe it's a trophy in their office, or you can see they are stressed or in a hurry. "That's a nice trophy." Or, "It appears you are in a hurry today, how can I help?" Conversation starters can include the weather, or asking about their company.
2. Pay attention, listen to the other person - Practice active listening. You practice active listening by really listening. You can paraphrase what they said or comment on what they said to you to let them know you are listening. "Wow, sounds like that trophy took a lot of hard work on your part." Let's face it, most people will like others who seemed interested in them. Listening, asking questions about the person, and responding to show you are interested are great ways to establish rapport.
3. Mirror the other individual - Use the same gestures where appropriate, use similar language to theirs. This shows you are on the level with them and use of body language clues shows you are comfortable with them and are listening.
4. Look for shared experiences - Often in conversation someone may share an event, or action they have recently taken. If you've had a similar experience, share it with them. Don't try to upstage, just relate. One business owner shared that when she took time to chit-chat with a customer/client she often found they had something in common. If they didn't she would say, "I've never had that experience. What was it like?"
Building rapport only takes a few minutes, some concentration, and the benefits are great. You will not only make your client's/customers come to trust you, you will gain some friends as well!!!
Consumer trends have been changing with the influences of improved product delivery, ability to research products before buying, technology to find and purchase their products.
For small business owners, looking for ways to make shopping more convenient for their customers is one way to support and grow sales.
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950 Eagles Landing Pkwy, Suite 422
Stockbridge, GA 30281