Regardless of your industry, it’s likely that your small business faces some fierce competition. Whether it’s other local businesses you’re up against or a large Fortune 500 company, be sure to optimize every aspect of your venture so you can perform better. Consider “working out” your business strategies so you can tone and strengthen your offerings, processes and people.
Identify What Performing Better Means to Your Business
Your ideal goals will depend on the size of your business, your industry, your target market and your competitive landscape. Before your start strength training your business, it’s critical to identify and articulate your growth goals. This way, you can consistently track your progress, adjust your strategies and hit your milestones.
Your growth goals may include:
- Increasing revenue
- Improving profit
- Decreasing expenses
- Reaching more new customers
- Making more repeat sales to existing customers
- Getting more positive customer reviews
- Fostering better employee engagement
- Having higher employee retention
Just like in fitness, people have different goals and use different methods to achieve them. Pilates offers different benefits to body weight training and functional training, for example. The strategies you use to grow your business should be tailored to the goals you’re trying to achieve.
Reorient Your Business Plan to Meet Your Performance Goals
Work your performance goals into your business plan so you can ensure your objectives all align. If your goal is to have more repeat customers, for example, be sure to work this goal into each aspect of your business, from product development to marketing to customer service. When your business is aligned in each area, you’ll have more opportunity to hit your performance goals.
1. Offer a Better Customer Experience
Increasing sales, building brand loyalty and getting more customer referrals all start by giving your customers the best experience possible. This is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your business, akin to using fitness training equipment, medicine balls and superbands at the gym. Improve your customer experiencing by conducting deeper market research on your target market. Go beyond knowing their demographics to learning more about their geographic, behavioral and psychographic traits as well.
Ask your current customers for feedback online or in store to learn more about how they find their current experience at your business. Use this data to pivot your current business strategy. For example, if your customers consistently say they are annoyed that you don’t carry best sellers in stock, you can focus on improving your inventory. If your customers say that the service is lacking at the point of sale, you can better train your cashiers.
Once you offer customers exactly what they are looking for, they will be more inclined to come back to your store. This helps to reduce your cost of customer acquisition and build brand loyalty. Develop a loyalty program that provides your returning customers with special perks, such as discounts, exclusive access and promo codes.
2. Focus on Employee Engagement
Your employees are vital to your business growth. They are the ones who have frontline experience with customers. If your employees are not satisfied with working at your business, they will be far less likely to be engaged in customer service, product development, marketing and many other functions. Ensure your employees are motivated to succeed so you have less turnover and happier customers.
Take the pulse on how employees are feeling on a quarterly basis by conducting an anonymous survey. This way, your employees will feel more secure in telling you the truth about how they find working at your business, and you can use their feedback to improve your workplace. For example, if most employees say your wages are lower than your competitors, you’ll need to do your research and offer a fair compensation package. If your employees say they don’t have the tools or knowledge to do their jobs, then it’s time to improve the onboarding and training for your store.
Just like using exercise bands or kettlebells, your business can get a high-quality workout and improve performance by making sure your employees are happy. If they are satisfied, your customers will be too.
3. Amplify Your Marketing
Marketing activities are like the dumbbells or barbells of the business world. They help you build strength and muscle to compete against the competition. If you want your business to perform better, be sure to audit your marketing activities to ensure they are performing well. Review any activities that are lagging behind your targets and see how you can pivot them.
For example, if you have an online ad campaign promoting your business’s new products but are not getting many clicks, you may need to review the ad messaging, keywords or images to make sure they are resonating with the target market. If you’ve just launched a new website but your traffic is going down instead of up, you may need to ensure your content is search engine optimized.
If you do business outside of the United States, be sure to customize your marketing to the different geographic markets. Conduct additional target market research so you’re incorporating their unique local aspects into your marketing.
4. Revamp Internal Processes
Performing better in business means you have to make your internal processes more efficient, which will help you to reduce your expenses and increase profitability. Take a look at your employee skills, wages and duties to ensure they are aligned effectively. For example, don’t have employees with special skills and high salaries performing tasks that can be done by lower-level staff. For example, an IT professional shouldn’t be doing data entry, which could be done by an intern.
Examine your product inventory to see where you have spoilage or other losses. Is your staff not using the first-in first-out method, thus causing your products to go bad, or is there a problem with the temperature at which your products are being stored? Is theft an issue at your business, and where can you reduce the risk of your product getting taken? Just like cardio can help you tone your body, improving processes can help you tone your business.
5. Optimize Your Location
In today’s market, convenience is key. In order to perform better, your business needs to be located where your target market shops. If you have a physical location, be sure to review the foot traffic, rent and utilities, parking spaces and store layout to determine if this is the right location for you. Changing business locations to a high-traffic area can increase exposure, while moving to a smaller spot can help your profitability.
In addition to the location of your store, be sure to focus on the point of sale. This is where you can truly optimize performance. Ensure you have a point of sale that makes it easy for your employees to conduct transactions, distribute loyalty programs and intake customer data like phone numbers and email addresses. Be sure to streamline that point of sale process through employee training so it is convenient and smooth for customers.
If you have an online-only business, consider whether your online platform is serving your needs. Does your e-commerce store offer the bells and whistles you need to optimize performance, such as automated abandoned cart reminders and help desk services? Consider whether you need to add new sales channels, like selling in an online marketplace in addition to on your website.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.