While a Fortune 500 corporation may have a massive amount of resources and an entrenched customer base, it lacks the speed and ability to make lightning-fast decisions that a small business enjoys.The U.S. Small Business Association suggests the 23 million small businesses in the country, which account for more than 50 percent of all U.S. sales, will grow more rapidly than their larger competitors in the near future. If you own and operate your own small business, you have the potential to change on a dime and create new strategies to become more competitive in an ever-evolving marketplace.
Keep Costs Down
It seems like an obvious piece of advice, but one that many small-business owners ignore. Small businesses often waste money because they fail to approach a budget from a personal standpoint and spend “easy” money with less caution, according to a 2013 Wall Street Journal report. Small business owners must look at money as if it is coming out of their own pocket (and sometimes, it is) so they don’t become suckered into buying items or services that adversely affect their company’s bottom line. A lot of business services and software let you try it for free before you commit to paying for it, for instance, Intuit’s business accounting software has a flexible trial period for businesses to try it out. This helps you decide if a program is right for your company and if the cost is worth it. Try to be a king on a shoestring and your company will do better than if you spend callously like a court jester.
Know Your Customers Well
Can you give the first and last names of your five best customers or your five most recent customers? A CitiGroup survey indicated that two out of three small business owners have increased their face-to-face time with customers to generate better relations and have increased sales. You do not need to exchange Christmas cards, but listen carefully to customers’ needs, recommend solutions before problems develop and always be upfront when they need to consult with someone else—even a competitor—to get a job done. Trust creates much more repeat business than a sales slogan and an empty promise.
Office Hours: 24/7
We live in an age where any person can be reached via phone, text, email or even Twitter. Unless you intend to take a vacation on a desert island, always make yourself available to customers. Business done on a sofa is set to out-pace business done in an office as more and more companies take advantage of technology to work anywhere, anytime, according to a recent article in The Guardian. Use cloud networks to store information and retrieve it from any mobile device or laptop computer on demand. Encourage digital communication instead of driving to a conference to meet with a client. Give your customers a cell phone number so they can reach you 24 hours a day.
Get Spending Power
While you want to manage dollars and cents, all businesses have to spend some money to make money. Take advantage of the best credit cards on the market and tailor rewards programs and incentives that benefit your company’s operations. Credit card rewards can be anything from receiving cash back from purchases to spend on a computer upgrade to airline miles that can be redeemed for a cross-country business pitch. Whenever you need to spend a dollar, make sure that your dollar is working for you.