A mentor once told me, “A business is like a tree, it’s either growing or dying”. Building a business is hard work. But continuous growth and sustained profitability take more than just effort. It requires innovation, commitment, and the right focus. If you are ready to improve your business, here are a few ways to get started.
5 Ways To Improve Your Business
# 1 – Have an Open Mind
Business improvement ideas come from a variety of sources. Sometimes these opportunities are obvious. But often they come from fleeting remarks or suggestions by friends, colleagues or total strangers. But you must be open to new ideas and willing to try new things. When you do, improvements will follow.
#2 – Invest Your Time Wisely
Most owners know their time is valuable, but do you treat it that way? Or do you waste it putting out fires, working on trivial tasks or micromanaging your staff? Plan your day, schedule your time and focus on the right stuff – the things that only you can and should do.
Interruptions will happen, so plan for some. And, when you do schedule the time to work on important tasks, treat it like a customer appointment. Shut the door, tell others you don’t want to be disturbed, turn off the cell phone and email reminders. Make these blocks of time productive so they move you toward your goals and improve your business.
#3 – Be a Profit Builder
Keep your focus on the bottom line. There are a lot of ways to improve profit in your business – cutting costs is the obvious one. While keeping costs down is important, put adequate resources (time and money) into other areas. Here are a few you may wish to consider.
- Grow sales of higher margin products or services. Products, like customers, are not created equal. The growth of low-margin products can actually reduce your overall profit.
- Gain efficiency with systems especially if your business relies on labor to deliver the services.
- Eliminate re-works that come from poor quality. Get it right the first time.
- Evaluate your pricing to reflect value, not just cost. This can help you optimize the gross profit margins – a key profit driver.
- Improve your marketing ROI with better targeting, compelling messages, diverse tactics and a follow-up system that converts more leads.
#4 – Balance Operations and Business Development
As a business grows, the day-to-day running and serving customers can become overwhelming. When this occurs, marketing and sales activities often go on the back burner. Building a pipeline of new business opportunities while increasing sales to existing customers take time. It is not a stop-start activity. Plan and make business development activities something you do daily, weekly and monthly. Then do it consistently. It will pay off on the bottom line.
#5 – Think Lifetime Value
As a business owner, you must establish a long-term view of customer value before you can appreciate how important it is to develop a relationship with customers and ensure everything is done to keep them as long as possible. What are your customers worth over their lifetime?
Here’s an example to demonstrate this point. You own a lawn-care company. The customer pays you $35 each time you mow their lawn. While the first transaction is only $35, they spend that each week from May – September, so annually they spend about $700. If they stay with you for four years, they will spend about $2,800. So is this a $35 customer or a $2,800 customer? The way you view them will dictate how you invest in current and future customers.
The 30-Day Business Improvement Challenge
Are there improvements you can make in your business? Certainly. But nothing will change until you take action. So identify one thing to work on over the next 30 days and get started.
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