These days, everyone wants to be a smart business owner. For some, this means diving into the world of employee empowerment and the gamification of work incentives. For others, this means taking the time to delve into a detailed business plan, writing down goals every step of the way. For many, it means laying the groundwork and gathering the tools necessary to succeed in business. Here are those tools; how many do you have on hand?
1. Appropriate Marketing
Marketing a small business online is easier than ever before. Taking advantage of social media is one primary venue for modern online marketing. Make use of multiple platforms for their intended purpose:
- Facebook for general marketing and customer engagement.
- Google+ for SEO benefits and a smaller, but more intimate, audience.
- LinkedIn for finding new employees, B2B marketing and a professional atmosphere.
- Twitter for short, quick advertising and engagement.
- Pinterest/Instagram for multimedia marketing, primarily through photos and videos.
Each site has a defined role in an online marketing campaign. Make use of them properly and you’ll have an easy boost to your customer base. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of app services within these platforms, particularly on Facebook.
2. Workforce Management
Managing your employees is important, but when you have more than five, it starts to get quite complicated. Rather than using calendars or some ancient enterprise solution, go with a modern app-based program. When your employees are all using PCs, smartphones and tablets, they can all easily access a distributed online system to track their shifts and responsibilities. This ease of communication allows you to assign tasks, monitor performance, communicate with your employees and keep track of schedules from one platform. Some systems continuously get new features added that make workforce management even simpler, such as a feature recently introduced to Deputy Premium by Deputy schedule maker called Stress management that enables you to assign stress profiles to employees (you can see all of it’s features here). There’s no easier way to manage your workforce than through a potent cloud solution. Plus, these solutions scale as your business grows, with little or no additional investment or configuration.
3. A Detailed Business Plan
If you’re planning a road trip across the country, you don’t hop on the highway and drive until you’re lost. You plug in your destination in Google Maps and plan out your route. The same should be done for your business with a business plan. A written plan is essential for a successful business, now more than ever. Sure, the plan you create now might not be the same as the plan you end up following to success, but that doesn’t give you reason to abandon planning altogether. No, you need to have the basis of a route from your current position to future success. If something new comes up along the way, then you can re-evaluate your plan and adjust it for new data.
4. Effective Communications Gear
Do you have employees scattered throughout a large office, a sales force presence citywide or agents present around the country? Do you frequently communicate with customers over the phone? It may not seem like much, but choosing the right communications gear is an important decision for a small business. Traditional phones, with the crooked neck to hold them in place, are not only inefficient — they can cause long-term damage. Pick an effective communications system with high quality technology to ease stress, assist customer support and aid employee communications. This is equally as important in-house as it is with customers.
5. An Experienced Business Mentor
Few people immediately think of a mentor in the entrepreneurship world. Business has traditionally been a cutthroat realm of secrets and corporate espionage. The idea of a mentor — the free sharing of experience and relationships — seems to go against this tradition. In reality, business mentors are far more available and valuable than many people seem to think. Finding a mentor for your personal entrepreneurial spirit and your individual business can put you a step ahead of the competition. More importantly, a mentor can help guide you away from the common mistakes you might fall into along the way. Avoid pitfalls; find a mentor.
6. A Plan for Growing Talent
Eventually, your business will grow. As it grows, each employee faces increasing responsibilities. You will need to make the decision to expand your workforce, and when you do, you face an important decision; do you hire outside talent to fit with you business, or do you train existing employees in new roles and hire for their old positions? Though hiring from within has many obvious benefits (previous relationship, understanding of company values, being a known quantity, etc) with many recruiment companies, such as Ochre Recruitment, specialising in certain industries, hiring externally can be an fresh injection of knowledge and experience for a company.
The decision whether to train or hire is not a new one, and it’s one every business owner must face, typically with relative frequency. Lay out some ground rules on what is most important in a new employee, and determine for each new position whether to hire new or train internal promotions.
What tools do you consider essential to running your business? No list this short can be truly comprehensive, after all. What singular tool do you deem indispensable to running your business successfully?