It’s often said that the devil is in the details. Those are wise words to keep in mind when running your startup or business. Yes, it’s your responsibility to be far-sighted and make decisions based on the big picture. But many companies have stumbled in the long run due to neglect of an issue that looks frustratingly simple in hindsight.
Don’t let your business become one of these needless casualties. Take advantage of the wisdom of those who have gone before you. Use these tips as a checklist to keep you on track with those tasks that can easily be overlooked.
1. When starting your business, give careful thought to the systems and processes you’ll need and implement them right away. This might seem like something that can be done later on. It’s not. Once your company is up and running, you and your employees will have already established certain routines. It’s difficult at best and impossible at worst to try and shoehorn those behaviors into a new framework.
2. All the preparation in the world means nothing without execution and follow-up. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that “research” is actual work. While it’s important to make informed decisions, it’s easy to procrastinate under the guise of gaining education. Make sure you turn that knowledge into action.
3. Be in the business of providing solutions. Your product or service may have all kinds of shiny bling, but for your potential customers it comes down to only one question: what’s in it for me? They don’t want to hear how big or fast or inexpensive it is. What they want to know is what problem it will solve for them.
4. Don’t be so arrogant as to think that paying a bill means you can treat your suppliers like an afterthought. Make every effort to cultivate an honest partnership with suppliers. There will absolutely come a time when one of them can bail you out of a sticky situation.
5. Social media is no longer a fad. It’s here to stay, and it’s just as competitive as every other aspect of the business landscape. Treat your website, Facebook, Twitter and other sites as major parts of your marketing program. Prominent placement of social share buttons makes it easy for customers to pass along your content, especially when you make it worth their effort with engaging material.
6. Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of thinking they can run the whole show themselves. Put your ego aside long enough to recognize your own limitations. The most successful business owners are the ones who hire people with talent and skill to make each area of the company as strong as possible.
7. Take a lesson from the squirrel gathering acorns in preparation for a long, cold winter. Marketing sometimes takes a back seat when business is booming. When sales hit a lull, as they inevitably will, the company hits the wall with no prospects in the pipeline. Your marketing strategy should be aimed at building ongoing relationships to sustain a consistent pool of regular and potential customers. This is another reason to integrate social media into your efforts.
8. Let your company’s size work in its favor. People have grown weary of the impersonal experience provided by large corporations. Instead of trying to make your company seem bigger, emphasize its flexibility, effective customer service and other advantages offered by a small business.
9. While sales and profits are vital, cash flow is the true lifeblood of your business. If you don’t know how to read a cash flow statement, learn now. Lack of available cash is one of the biggest icebergs that sink small companies, so be sure you’re equipped to know where yours is going.
10. Business owners and executives tend to boast about being a workaholic as though it was a positive trait. Stress and burnout will cost your company financially just as surely as they affect you personally. Time for yourself should be planned into your list of priorities. Even a long weekend away can pay significant dividends in renewing your focus and energy.
Running a successful business takes more than a little money and a lot of good intentions. These tips can serve as your map, steering you away from the dead ends and keeping you moving in the right direction.
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