How’s your 2019 shaping up so far? Do you know what’s working at your business and what isn’t? According to Forbes, it’s important to constantly measure your business performance so you know what’s successful and what’s holding you back.
Being a small business owner is a journey. “You’re always a work-in-progress, and you’re never finished,” says Mike Kappel.
That being said, we’ve gathered some helpful tips to help you make 2019 your best year yet:
1. Evaluate & Upgrade Your Technology
Are the hardware, software, and business processes you’re using helping to improve sales conversions and customer experiences? Has the lack of appropriate technology resulted in lost sales and frustration for customers and employees?
If so, it’s time to evaluate these technologies and determine your need for an upgrade. Take the necessary steps to refresh outdated tools so you have the latest and greatest version available, whether it’s downloading the most recent software update or buying new office equipment.
This doesn’t mean getting the James Bond edition of everything, with all the best whistles and bells. Instead, aim to streamline your operations to save you and your employees time and improve the customer experience. If your website and physical store aren’t synced, for example, look at investing in a cloud-based, integrated POS and E-commerce solution.
Upgrading your hardware and software systems is also crucial for security purposes, as older systems may be easier to hack. By routinely updating the programs you’re using, you’ll ensure that you have the most recent security measures in place.
2. Regularly Review Your Financial Statements
While this may seem a bit obvious, Fit Small Business reveals that 30% of businesses fail because the owner runs out of money.
Regularly measuring the success of your small business will show you how much money it’s generating. Without it, your business can’t survive.
If you don’t know how much money is going in and out of your business, it’s time to break out the following three financial statements and give them a thorough review:
- Income Statement – This report measures the profitability of your business during a particular time period by showing your business’s profits and losses.
- Balance Sheet – This statement shows the financial health of your business by measuring how much you owe and own.
- Cash Flow Statement – This report shows how liquid the cash is at your business.
Want to see how profitable your business is? Check out the financial statements!
3. Gauge Customer Satisfaction
As Forbes points out, an important gauge for small business success is customer satisfaction. After all, if your customers aren’t happy after buying from your business, there’s a good chance they won’t do it again.
With competition becoming fiercer in 2019, you’ll need to up your customer experience game if you expect to get the attention and dollars of more consumers.
Focus on connecting with customers in a very personal and relevant way to gain their trust and loyalty. Whether you use data to segment customers according to their demographics, location, and purchase history to create more personalized experiences or you send out hand-written thank you cards, it’s important that your interactions are on a very human and personalized level.
When a customer buys from you, you also need to do some follow-up work and find out how his or her experience was. This might mean conducting surveys, checking online reviews, or placing a call to the customer.
Happy customers not only provide your business with repeat sales but also do a lot of your marketing for you through positive word of mouth.
No one knows your customers’ needs better than they do. If you really listen to them and help them satisfy those needs, you’ll build lasting customer relationships that have the potential to sustain your business with long term repeat purchases.
4. Show Your Employees Some Love
Don’t forget about your employees! They’re essential to running and growing your business. Treat them well and they’ll return the favor in the form of:
- Increased Productivity – Employees who know that their company cares about them care about their company and will work harder and be more invested.
- Better Customer Care – Customers notice when a company’s employees are unhappy. Employees who are happy tend to offer a higher level of customer service.
- Fewer Sick Days – Employees who are happy at work tend to be less stressed and more healthy, which decreases the odds that they’ll call in sick. Offering a great benefits package also helps keep employees healthy and happy.
- Less Employee Churn – Dissatisfied employees don’t typically stick around long. Keeping employees happy will reduce the likelihood of them quitting, which saves the time and money you would’ve spent on turnover and rehiring.
- Expanded Talent Pool – Companies that have a reputation for taking care of their employees attract top talent and have a broader selection of job candidates.
According to Allied Forces employment agency, Google offers months of paid maternity/paternity leave, provides employees with free healthy meals, and lets employees bring their pets to work—and that’s just a few of the benefits of working for their company. While you may not be able to offer your employees the same benefits a larger organization would, there are still many things you can do to make your employees happy.
For instance, recognize the great things that people at your company do every day and encourage and/or incentivize them to do better. Offer rewards to associates who go the extra mile to provide customers with a higher level of service. You might also offer more flexible schedules that allow them to attend school or take care of family needs.
Consider conducting performance reviews twice a year. This allows you to gauge the happiness of your employees and determine how effectively they’re able to complete tasks. Performance reviews are a good way to help employees see how they can improve as well as gain insight into their workload and skills. Armed with this information, you can assign tasks that make employees feel more satisfied with their work, which in turn will increase productivity.
5. Get Current on Industry Trends
While retail trends continue to change and evolve, many businesses fall behind competitors because they refuse to let go of traditional methods of running their companies.
Here are 3 reasons to stay up to date with what’s going on in your industry:
- To Stay Relevant – If you’re unable to adapt and meet the needs of customers who request newer products or services, you risk appearing antiquated, which can result in losing business to your competitors. You also don’t want to seem out-of-date to potential customers. When you stay current on market trends, you’ll be prepared to meet consumer demands and attract more business.
- To Earn Respect – Building your knowledge will help you be recognized as an industry leader. Customers will seek you out for your expertise and word of your reputation will spread.
- To Enhance Skills – Learning new procedures and technology enhances your skills and increases your efficiency. Even if something you learn is a bust, it’s never a waste of time! Attempting a new pursuit always results in growth, whether you’re learning from triumph or failure.
Yes, it can be a challenge to keep up with constantly shifting trends in the retail industry, but it’s the only way to keep up with your competitors!
6. Refresh Your Store
Did you know that the exterior of your brick and mortar store can play a huge role in increasing foot traffic?
Consider this: a study by Morspace revealed that for 95% of consumers, a store’s external appearance influences their decision to shop there. Essentially, the customer’s experience with the outside of your store is important for driving sales, increasing your property value, and getting passersby to walk through your doors.
Of course, you’ll need to make sure the interior of your store is clean and tidy as well. Evaluate your store’s overall presence. Do the windows need to washed? Do tattered signs need to be replaced? Are your shelves dusted and straightened? Are the front counters clear of clutter and stains? Is the backroom easy to navigate and neatly arranged?
If you want to improve the customer experience, you need to make sure the exterior and interior of your store are well maintained, inviting, and present a positive brand image.
According to Fit Small Business, only 40% of small businesses are actually profitable, while 30% break even and 30% are losing money.
From regularly reviewing your financial statements to taking care of your employees and maintaining the appearance of your store, it’s crucial to continually measure the performance of your business to find out what’s working and what’s not so you can make the necessary changes.
Use the 6 tips above to reach new milestones in 2019!
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