How to develop your business for a stronger future
Building a business is incredibly challenging but highly rewarding from the initial idea through to the planning process and then finally your first day of trading. You will come across hundreds of hurdles on this journey and grow stronger as you learn to overcome and adapt to each situation.
If you have been running your business for a few years, you may have decided it’s time to build your services or develop your team to create a healthier future for the brand. There are multiple ways you can do this from outsourcing experts to increasing staff productivity.
The first place to start is to look at your economic forecast and your businesses accounts. You should employ an accountancy firm to help you do this. Find all the areas where your company is performing and any ways that it isn’t. Look at your income and your expenditure to try and find ways you could increase your turnover and lower your costs. With the accountant’s advice, you may find you can increase your warehouse space, the number of your employees or invest in new equipment that will make your team more productive.
Another area you could bring in some fresh ideas and increase the strength of your business is building a good team of outsourced experts. This can save you money on a salary but give you extra insight into specific departments within the industry. IT companies can take the strain off your current team and ensure you are kept online at all times. They can help ensure your cybersecurity is up to date and prevent your whole company being brought to its knees by an attack on your IT systems.
Another great way to boost your business is to employ a marketing company, especially one that understands SEO and CRM. When looking to outsource companies like this, you should try to find a specialised company that focuses on your industry. Using a business that specialises in SEO for home services if you work in the motorcycle industry, may not give you the same impact as going to a company that works specifically in the marketing of motorcycles or cars. If you are outsourcing, always find someone that has a lot of experience in your field. This will ensure they are passionate about your product or service. They will also have a greater connection with your target audience, which will give you a more substantial selling power.
Productivity in the workplace is vital, and it can be tough to get the best out of your team at the same time. This is where productivity systems or apps can be advantageous. Companies like monday.com are particularly strong at getting the most out of your staff. You can use your own methods too, such as introducing time-blocking into your office.
You may find that your workers are distracted by multiple tasks going on and new leads coming in. However, this could cause delays in current jobs. It’s also possible that you are losing a lot of time due to a lack of productivity, and by getting structured with the time block method, you could take on more work and increase your turnover. Breaking your daily to-do list into time blocks ensures that you stay on track.
You work with your team to highlight when they are the most productive in the day. Some may work their best first thing in the morning, and others might find they are more productive after lunch. Once everyone knows their most productive hours, you start to slot in allocated times within the day, to complete tasks. You should encourage your staff to switch off all notifications on their emails and phones, to help them stay focused. The idea of the time block is that we know we have 2 hours to dedicate to one particular task, before moving on to the next. This sets mini-deadlines. It will help other members of your team too. They will know when they can ask for help from their colleagues and when they need to leave them with their head down.
Fewer distractions lead to greater efficiency so you really could find more time to fit in other projects which will increase your turnover and make your business a more attractive proposition.
If you are selling a product range, you should also review your warehouse space. If there is a high demand for your product, but you have limited space to store it, maybe you should consider scaling the business.
Talk to your accountant about finance options. These could range from speaking to your bank to finding a new stakeholder or investor.
Investments into your business do mean you give away some of the equity, which may make you feel you are losing power, control or income from the company. However, an investor brings with them a lot of value. Firstly you will get a cash injection to help you expand your premises and buy more stock. You will also be bringing on another person with a vested interest in the business succeeding. This could help increase the awareness of the brand and help you sell more products. Most investors are incredible networkers, so have a little black book full of other well connected and wealthy individuals. They could bring with them an order book which will benefit the business, the investor and you.
If you are approaching an investor, then you need to have a strong pitch, and your financial forecast needs to be stable. The essential part of most pitches is the last page, and you will spend hours pouring over why your business is fantastic, your achievements and the hard work that has gone in to create the company that stands before you today. However, the investor wants to see only a few things. How much money do you want? What are you going to do for that money? How much are they going to get back in return? So make sure you have a desirable proposition and be sure your numbers all add up. You need to know your finances off the top of your head. A business that doesn’t know their turnover or nett profit for the last three years could be a major turn off for an investor.
Strengthening your business will also come if you get to know your stakeholders. There are two different pools of stakeholder in every business. You have internal stakeholders who are within your company. This includes your staff, the board of directors and any investors you may have. You then have external stakeholders. These are people that are affected by the business. Consumers, suppliers and regulators. Understanding each of these groups and knowing how to make them happy or get the best out of them, will strengthen your business to protect your future.
Understanding your employees is one of the best places to start. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses. You need to know who you can rely on in times of crisis, who is best when empathy is required. They will have direct contact with other internal and external stakeholders, so if your staff aren’t happy, then this could pour out and affect your other relationships. Bad for business. You could start to build a strong relationship with staff by creating incentives based on their performance. If everyone meets their deadlines, then let them plan an office day out. Set the budget but let your employees choose what they will do and where they will go. You don’t have to be there if you feel that they would benefit from some time away from the boss. However, if you do go, it could make them feel closer to you. A team that forms a bond will work harder for each other—helping if team members are sick or if extra hours need to be filled to complete a deadline.
It can be a little harder to keep your external stakeholders happy. This is where outsourcing comes back in again. Using a PR company can help you understand your client base a little more. They will be able to focus on market research to help ensure that you are delivering everything the consumer wants. You need to monitor any complaints and look at all the reviews coming in. Social media is a great place to get to know your consumers. Make sure you engage with them directly. A PR company can help you find an online voice for your brand, and they will know when they can be funny or when they need to be serious. Your consumers will feel closer to you and more loyal to you if they feel like your brand is their friend, and they can trust you.
Suppliers shouldn’t be overlooked; having healthy relationships with them can be vital if you come into a crisis. Small things will go a long way, such as inviting them to dinner or sending them thank you gifts. Always paying on time and having strong communication over any issues you may find occurring. Your suppliers are critical to the smooth running of your business. So make sure they feel appreciated