3 years ago, I was a one-man show and almost had to give up on the American dream of running and operating a business.I was learning how to improve business. I quickly learned that business is much harder than expected. It does not come easy like all the social media accounts want you to believe.
Building a business is going to take long nights, early morning, and it is going to cost you more than you think. However, there is a lot to be said for the entrepreneur that sticks to it and makes it work.
Over the years I have learned how to improve business in ways that I did not pick up in graduate school. So today, let’s look at some ways to improve your business and get the results that you are looking for.
Build a Great Team First
This is a business lesson that I cannot stress enough. In my case, I needed a marketing team to really produce the results that I was looking for. I could jump into Photoshop and place some text on a stock photo. I could write email headlines that are appealing, but not great.
The truth was I needed a team of highly talented individuals to get the job done. I needed to build a team that was going to deliver marketing campaigns that kicked butt. I was never going to get where I wanted to be on my own.
This goes for your business as well. Building your team of highly effective individuals is going to drive your business to the next level. They say your people are the most valuable business asset, but they are wrong. Having the right people is your most valuable asset.
Build a Plan
Sometimes we jump into the creation of the product before we have the plan in place. For example, we all know we need a great business website. What we often fail to consider is the plan to build the website. This causes the business to achieve lackluster results, leaving us wanting more.
I also believe that you should not start building the plan until you have the right team in place. Building the plan together is a great team builder. When you build the plan together, you build by in and trust. If the plan works, the team looks great and everyone benefits. If the plan fails, the team picks up their battle armor together and starts over. No hurt feelings, no egos, just movement forward.
Start with a plan but be willing to change course when needed. This means the data and analysis point you in a new direction.
Know Your Customers
Do you have an idea who is going to buy your widget? Most companies don’t. They try to sell to everyone with a heartbeat. Part of selling a widget is knowing there is a demand for it. I mean if there is no demand for your widget even the best plan and strategy is going to fail.
Before you launch your business, do a little research and see if there is a market. Get to know your potential customer base before you spend thousands of dollars in development and marketing.
Build A Sales Channel
Okay, you know that your widget has a market. Your customer is going to line up for days, just like when the iPhone 4 was released. The problem is you do not have a sales channel to get your widget to the right customers.
Building a sales channel could be a simple as setting up an e-commerce store and selling straight to your customer or it can be as difficult as setting up retail stores and creating a full supply chain.
The point here is getting to know how you are going to deliver your widget to your customer is important. Make it easy for them to purchase your product or service.
Automate Your Nurture Process
80% of sales require 5 follow-up attempts after the first meeting. 44% of sales reps give up after 1 follow-up. The main reason that sales reps give up is that they have multiple deals in the works. They are also focused on the deals that are going to close fastest.
Automate the sales nurture process and ensure that your sales reps are talking and closing the right deals. By implementing an automated nurture process your sales team will be able to monitor prospects, giving them the ability to follow-up when the prospect is ready.
Build A Lasting Brand
Branding is a term that is often overstated or misunderstood. Your brand is more than just a logo and color scheme. Your brand is the reason you get up in the morning and work so hard. Your brand is your internal and external messaging. It is the reason your customer buy from you versus the competition.
Build a brand that is going to connect with your customs and is going to leave a lasting impression. Build the right brand that is going to hold up over time. This is going to help you build a company that you can hand over to your children.
Focus on Cash Flow
It is hard to build a business without cash. This is why you should focus efforts on building and maintaining positive cash flow from day one. This is a short-term outlook, but without cash flow, you will not make it.
When you first start out or start to underperform, make shorten your goals and focus on revenue generating tasks. If it is a change in business model, so be it. Make the changes and focus on profitability, then turn your focus back to long-term growth and stability.
Build for The Future
Cash flow is positive. Check. Now ensure to invest your surplus into activities that are going to build the business and build long-term stability. This is going to include building processes, automation, marketing, and advertising your business.
Stop living paycheck to paycheck and start investing in your business. Hire help as soon as possible. Staff will help you scale your business and be more productive. It might hurt to hire that employee. However, if you hire the right person it will be worth his/her weight in gold.
Once your business is profitable, you need to invest in the future of your business. The sooner you can reinvest, the sooner you will be on your way to a great company.
Develop a Sales Process
Do you know your sales process? Most companies believe that that sales process is to send out as many emails or LinkedIn invitation as possible. The truth is that your company needs to build a process of prospecting, nurturing, and closing new sales.
The sales process should be a systematic approach that maps out each step in the customer journey. This process will help your sales team maintain consistency and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
Set Realistic Goals
When I started my first marketing agency, I made a big mistake. I set my goals way to high and they were not realistic. I understand when you first get started that you are motivated to grow.
My goal was 10 new leads per month. This was nearly impossible with the slim budget and lack of brand awareness I had. After a couple months of missing my goal, it became disappointing leading to lack of motivation.
I did a pivot and said I want to close 3 new customers in the next 6 months. This was more realistic and more motivating. After two months I was able to accomplish my goal. It felt great and helped me push forward.
Build your business on realistic goals that you can achieve. At some point, your business will be able to set goals of 10 new customers per month, but you need to start somewhere. This will help you keep motivated and continue to move your business forward.
Improve Your Skills
Business continues to change. You are going to have to continue to learn new things and push yourself to new levels. I am not going to tell you to read a book a week because this might not be realistic. Hey, I have 4 kids, trying to read sometimes does not happen.
There are plenty of ways to learn new skills. Listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos, or attend conferences are all going to let you learn new skills. Use these new skills to push your business to the next level. The point here is always to keep pushing yourself, this will help your business succeed.
Run the Day
Run the day or the day will run you. Yes, this sounds a little cliché, but it is true. Schedule time to do everything. From meetings, new business development, blogging, and driving. Ensure that you have your day scheduled and a plan in place.
I have a client that will take up an entire day if I let them. By sticking to strict deadlines and meeting agendas we are able to get more done in less time. I dread the meeting that does not have an agenda because I know it is going to take longer than expected and we are going to waste time.
Personally, I take every Sunday to reflect on the upcoming week. I look at what is scheduled and where I can fit in tasks that need to get done. Schedule your time and own the day, this will help you from feeling like you are wasting your time.
Start Marketing Yesterday
Marketing is an investment in cash and time. For example, a solid content marketing strategy is going to take 4-6 months or more to see a return on investment. You need to plan your content, write your content, and publish your content over time. The search engines and social media communities will start to pick up your content sending more traffic to your website. This does not happen overnight. It takes hard work and dedication.
The longer you put off marketing, the longer you are going to put off seeing results. Marketing is like compound interest, the sooner you start, the sooner you will be able to retire or see results in our case.
Marketing is not something you test. It takes the full commitment of the organization. Your marketing team is going to need support, investment, and understanding to make it work.
I am going to be the first one to tell you that I am not a huge fan of social media. Social media is a huge job and takes tons of time to do it right. This is why outsourcing social media is so common. However, social media is a great way to increase brand awareness and get your marketing message in front of your ideal customer.
If you are going to use social media, make sure to use the social media pillars to get more out of your efforts. Start by telling your story, engage with your audience, advertise your great content, and analyze your efforts.
Start a Company Blog
Blogging for business is vital to the success of your business. Your blog is one of the best ways to attract customers and add value to your customer.
Think of it this way. Your customers have questions, you have answers to their questions. Write up a quick blog post that helps them understand a problem they are having and show them how your widget is the right solution.
Your company blog can be the biggest lead generation tactic you use. Again, your blog is like compound interest, the sooner you start, the sooner you will start to see returns. Just don’t give up too early.
Most Important: Never Stop Executing
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. – George S. Patton
I believe that too many companies hide behind strategy because they do not know how to actually do real work. Never stop executing against what you believe in.
Once you stop executing, you are going to lose. There is always going to be a smarter person with a better plan. However, the ability to execute a plan is what separates the successful from the unsuccessful.
It is time to stop researching and planning. It is time to start doing something. If you are wondering how to improve business, this is critical. There are no magical marketing ideas, it takes hard work and execution. As soon as you stop executing, your business will fail.
How To Improve Business
Over the years, I have learned how to improve business and drive results. Some have been backed up by teachings in college and others are all new. Improving your business is going to take hard work and dedication, but it will all be worth it. I do know this, the harder I work, the luckier I get.