Most of the small businesses that are launched end up failing. The statistics are disheartening: like where we are told that 90% of all start-ups end up failing, soon or later. As a small business owner, you obviously don’t want to be part of these sad statistics. And that is what leads to the question as to if there is anything you can do, as a small business owner, to help it succeed. That is the question we will be attempting to tackle in this article. And we will do so by giving you tips that, when properly implemented, can increase the odds of your small business succeeding.
Without further ado, if you want your small business to succeed, you need to (among other things):
Create effective business systems and processes
Most of the small businesses that fail are those whose owners fail to create effective systems and processes. In the absence of proper business systems and processes, things have to be done in an ad hoc manner, which typically leads to spectacular failure. You therefore need to have a well-defined step by step procedure for performing every major operation within your business. You also need to have proper systems and processes for managing your business’ finances and for managing your business’ human resource. Most critically, for every operation that is to be performed routinely within your small business, there should be a well-defined system/process. You actually need to have thought of the business systems and processes to use before opening your business’ doors. The idea is to ensure that you start on the right footing from the get-go. Then once the business starts operating, you need to refine those systems and processes, to attune them with the reality on the ground. You also need to keep on reviewing and refining the business systems and processes, in line with emerging realities.
Hire the right people for the right roles
Many small businesses fail because the owners hire the wrong people for various roles. Don’t make this mistake. Take your time, when it comes to making hiring decisions. Ensure that the people you hire for the various roles in your business have the right aptitudes and the right attitudes. Avoid hiring people who are either overqualified or under-qualified for the various roles. As much as you can, try to get people who will view the jobs you give them as ‘real’ serious jobs — as opposed to people who will be inclined to view them as ‘stop-gap’ jobs.
Train your employees thoroughly
Hiring the right people for the various roles in your small business is only half of the equation. The other half is that of training, and doing it thoroughly. You may have gotten the right people for the respective roles in your small business, but they won’t be effective until and unless they are properly trained. Ideally, you should endeavor to have some sort of a formal curriculum for training your employees on the various roles. You should also try to ensure that there is some sort of ongoing/continuous training for your employees — where they are reminded of the important principles. That is as opposed to the situation you find in most small businesses, where the only training given to the employees is at the orientation/onboarding stage.
Sell your vision to your employees effectively
The idea here is to get your employees to understand and buy into the vision you have for the business. You may have hired the right people and given them the right training, but unless they are operating with the right vision, they won’t be effective at their respective roles. On the other hand, once the employees have the right vision, they will be in a position to perform their respective roles with minimum supervision. Closely related to the issue of selling your vision to your employees effectively is the aspect of getting the employees to develop a feeling that they have a real stake in the business. Once the employees get to a point of feeling that their personal fortunes are related to the business’ fortunes, they will be inclined to do their very best at their respective roles.
Treat your customers well consistently
It will be almost impossible for your small business to succeed if you don’t treat your customers well. Everything that is done within your business should be ultimately geared towards attaining/increasing customer satisfaction. In other words, everything that is done within your business should be done with the customer’s needs at the back of your mind. And you have to be consistent in treating your customers well. We tend to see small businesses starting on the right footing, when it comes to treating their customers well. Then as the numbers of their customers grow, they start being complacent in treating the customers well. They start taking some of their customers for granted, which ultimately leads to their failure. You need to ensure that you don’t fall into that trap. Remember, things like advertising and promotional campaigns can get customers to do business with you for the first time. From there, whether they continue coming back after that or not depends on how they are treated. If they are well treated, they are likely to keep on coming back. If they are poorly treated, not only will they fail to come back, but they are also likely to tell others about the bad treatment they got at your business. Therefore treating your customers well is very important, if you want your small business to live past its first birthday.
Still on the aspect of treating customers well, it is important to understand that in the typical small business setting, it is not you (as the business owner) who will be interacting with the customers directly. Rather, it is your front-line staff who will be interacting with the customers. What you need to do therefore is ensure that you treat your employees well so that they in turn can treat your customers well. But first you need to ensure that you give proper customer care training to the front-line staff who will be interacting with your business’ customers directly. Then you need to ensure that you consistently treat those employees well, so that they in turn can treat the customers well on your behalf.