Running a small business can often feel like you need a boost of magic to keep things moving. From production to fulfillment and everything in between, it’s hard to escape the thought that things should just be easier.
What channels am I missing? What potential customers am I not speaking to? How can I make my products more desirable? How can my inventory process be smoother?
The key to answering these questions and finding success is to first get back to your roots. What are the elements of your business that empower your team, strengthen your efforts, and narrow your focus?
Before turning over every stone to find room for improvement, here are a few areas we’ve learned are the most impactful. Foster these characteristics and soon you’ll see more opportunities arise:
We all get inspired by big ideas from time to time. But with a limited schedule, you must keep your team focused on goals that will increase momentum and revenue. Focus on testing only a few areas of marketing at a time. Learn what works and expand from that. Don’t overextend your efforts, disabling you from seeing what’s impacting success. Optimize your operations, and make sure that the workflow you’ve set is actually working. Sometimes combing through your existing processes will expose redundancies.
Before you broaden your product line, analyze your current sales performance and understand how to maximize your best selling items. And before you purchase more inventory, implement solutions that will help you forecast future inventory needs. And above all - automate! Figure out what tasks, like inventory management, can be automated to speed things up and keep your team on the right track.
Relentless GritObstacles are flying at your face every day. And when they hit - they hit hard. But with a strong sense of grit, determination and belief that you can get past them, you’ll inspire your team and encourage growth. You won’t make it through every single challenge, but don’t lose the passion and the “why” behind your business. Take time for yourself to remember these things and develop a culture that fosters this relentless energy. You won’t always be able to carry the torch for your team, so hire the people who are willing to pick it up and run as hard as they can.
A Creative, Open-Minded EnvironmentSmall businesses thrive on creative energy. To stand out against competition and provide a unique experience to customers, you must foster an open-minded environment that allows for those out-of-the-box ideas.
Allow your team members to explore other roles for a day and provide insight into new strategies. Schedule time to meet with employees individually and provide them with an open forum where they can share their thoughts. Don’t deny ideas until they’re tested and proven wrong. Some of the wildest endeavours are what make small businesses most successful.
Admit You Need Help
As The Beatles famously sang - we all get by with a little help from our friends. But first - you must ask.
Every successful entrepreneur knows that leaning on others can accelerate growth and foster success. If you’re feeling buried under administrative and operational tasks that are holding you back, hire some help. There comes a time when you need to let go of certain responsibilities to keep the company moving forward.
Gather Customer Insight
A big part of running a small business is building a community of people who evangelize your products. Leverage them for insight into how you can make things better. Send surveys to customers after they purchase a product. Ask for other items they’d be interested in buying or how you can improve your existing ones. The more you understand your target audience, the smarter decisions you’ll be making in product development, marketing and customer service.
Have more ideas on what makes up a successful small business? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter! Just mention @StitchLabs and share what makes your business so awesome!