If you have been around the Small Business Community for any length of time, you may have noticed that I make it a habit to collect small tips, strategies and hacks.
Here are 10 of my favorites for small business owners:
1. You need multiple profit centers. This is probably my favorite piece of advice and one I have shared several times over the years, and for good reason. It comes from Barbara Winter in her great book, Making a Living Without a Job.
Here’s the hack: Just as Starbucks started out selling only coffee but now also sells food, music, Frappucinos and more, so too should you add additional profit centers to your business. Having multiple profit centers mitigates risk and evens out your business cycle.
Learn more about multiple profit centers: The Magic of Creating Multiple Profit Centers
2. Big business wants to help you succeed: This site is a great example. There is a lot of big business assistance out there once you start to look. Large companies spend significant sums of money to create products, tools and services with small businesses in mind; it would behoove you to take advantage of them.
Learn about the Bank of America Supplier Diversity program: BofA's supplier relations: vendor management
3. If you want to grow, team up: By the same token, just as there are big businesses who want to help you, there are also other small businesses who can help you. Creating a strategic partnership extends your reach into areas and customers where you typically would not have any. Finding businesses that complement (but do not duplicate) is synergistic, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Consider bartering: Bartering May Ease Cash-Flow Crunch, But Follow These Rules
4. There are three types of customers, and to grow, you need to juggle all three:
- New customers
- Existing customers
- Exiting customers
Customers leave for all sorts of reasons, both good and bad.. As such, you need to create a constant funnel of new customers who become existing customers, so that they can replace the exiting customers. Cultivate and nourish all three.
Learn more about your customers: Understanding Your Ideal Customer
5. Market your business, and then market it some more: How do you find those new customers to replace existing customers? You know the answer. Marketing. Whether it is real world networking or online social networking, marketing your business is the key to keeping the customer pipeline going.
6. Be a great boss: The best small businesses – the ones with solid profit, low turnover, good morale, great products and happy customers – are the ones where the owner creates a great culture. Happy employees create happy customers. The key is to be a good boss.
And while you are at it, don’t forget to be a good boss to yourself, too.
Follow these tips to be a great boss: Want to be a Great Boss? Develop these Traits
7. Play defense: Most entrepreneurs like playing offense – finding customers, selling, being creative, doing that part of your business that you love to do. But great small businesses also know they need to play defense – they incorporate, have adequate insurance, save for a rainy day, etc.
8. Understand little changes can create big results: Change can often seem big and difficult. In fact, small changes are the ones that often create big results. Add a new product or service, tweak a marketing campaign, make a great new hire.
Thinking of a little change, look into offering these employee perks: The importance of employee perks and how you can offer more than you think
9. Work on your business, not just in it: Michael Gerber’s famous piece of advice from his book The E-Myth remains as true today as when he first wrote it: By stepping back and looking at the big picture you get perspective, insight and you can figure out what changes – little or big – are needed.
Related article: Are you an Optimist or Pessimist? Why Your Perspective Matters
10. Say yes: People love small business because we can say yes.
- “Can you stay open a little later so I can get down there?” Yes.
- “Could you possibly get this to me by tomorrow?” Yes.
- “Can I have an afternoon off this week?” Yes
Yes is one of the things that makes small business special. Use that to your advantage.
Related article: What’s your secret sauce?
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
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