October is here already. Can you believe it? This means that there are less than 90 days remaining in 2018. Take out that December wind down period (if you’re lucky enough to have one), and you’ll soon realise that that the year will be over before we know it.
That is why NOW is the time for small business operators to get ready – start taking stock, re-evaluating and focusing on the new year.
Many small business operators fail to do this and end up in a trap of repeating the same mistakes of the past. Continued evaluation and self-assessment is critical for maintaining momentum and staying ahead of the competition.
Throughout our collective careers here at Optune, we have worked with and within loads of small businesses and learned the power of getting back to basics. Over this time, one thing that has surprised us is just how quickly business owners and managers can stray from the very formula they created, and the process that made the organisation successful in the first place.
Some of these operators have run these businesses for over twenty years, have become very successful and know the business better than anyone. So, what are some of the traps that they’ve fallen into?
Well, here are some of the common themes and patterns that we have observed and believe are applicable to any small business operator.
Operations Basics Lost
- Forgetting what you learned and had to go through in order to get to where you are today. Sharing your knowledge with your staff and colleagues is critical.
- Leaving employees to fend for themselves. Not investing in the right training, or reinforcing the training that has been provided.
- Thinking you are a good trainer just because you know the subject. It’s worth getting yourself some ‘train the trainer training’ or leaving the training to the professionals.
- A lack of consistent formal processes for staff to follow or refer to, and teaching them on the fly, or just from notes and experiences. The result is vague and inconsistent messaging and process which can leave things far too open to interpretation.
- Supporting bad habits by not using the proper structure in front of employees.
- Seeing employees requests for support as a bother. It can be frustrating at times. Resist the urge and take a moment to understand that asking for help means that they are keen to learn and improve. Don’t quash this. You may regret it later.
Marketing Basics Lost
- Losing site of how hard it is to generate new business. Be the face of your business or find someone who is as passionate as you to represent it.
- Wishing you had the money to run for that huge ad campaign. Remember, great content, a simple email campaign, or a customer loyalty offer can go a long way.
- Disparaging competition. It’s not a good look, and often comes across as sounding nothing more than bitter and twisted. Resist the urge. You know you are better than the other guy. Instead, let your product or service do the talking.
- Thinking you can manage all the marketing yourself. Sure, oversee it all, but employ the right person to take care of the nuts and bolts, and stick to what your do best. Focus on the customer when they come through the door.
- Being creative with the Brand. Brand consistency is critical. Make sure you do not unintentionally damage the brand. Find a tool to help and use it. Communicate with consistent relevant content to become a trusted source and people will refer others to you.
The points above are just some of the observations that we have made over the years. You may not agree with them all, and it is by no means an exhaustive list. We just hope that it starts to plant a few seeds in the minds of small business operators to start looking at few things more objectively which can easily transform their business for the better.
We wish you all a successful and prosperous new year.