Most business owners would probably agree that these are tough trading times. Although we have now weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and come out of the other side of it, the economic toll it took on global trade is still being counted. Furthermore, no sooner did the pandemic subside than both the Ukraine and the cost of living crisis began.
Most business owners would probably also agree that there is almost always some room for improvement in the way a business is organised and run; indeed, major corporations routinely subject their employees to “continuous excellence” workshops in a perpetual effort to further fine down their operations!
In this post we shall look at 7 ways in which all (or most) businesses can improve themselves whether it is in terms of reducing costs, expanding into new markets or increasing customer satisfaction. Best of all, these are all fairly easy to implement strategies that can even be rolled out in the tough trading environment that is 2022!
It is quite amazing how many successful businesses are actually quite badly organised. There are often hilarious anecdotes abounding about how some companies get so big that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing and customers are often given two directly competing versions of events!
Even if you think your business is well organised, it could most probably be better. Getting organised means keeping a neat and tidy workplace (and training employees to keep tueur own spaces tidy) it means keeping data neatly stored (give that hard drive a prune!) and it means making sure that everybody knows their role, but also what the company in general is up to. Which brings us to number 2..
Often businesses end up being kind of like families in that they talk to each other, yet don’t quite really communicate. This is often an inevitable byproduct of over familiarity. Even small businesses can be guilty of this and there are workplaces where employees sitting across from one another have no idea what the other person is working on! This can lead to duplication of efforts, it can lead to contacts being given wrong info and it can also mean that your business loses out of the opportunity to pool knowledge and expertise.
Next, do you completely know what you are working on? Do they understand the strategy and direction of the business? Of course, they don’t need to know every micro details and some information is going to be commercially sensitive but if you are intending to take your business into a new market, then tell your people!
Another easy (and often overlooked) way to bag some quick wins and improve a business is simply to ask employers what they think. Set up some kind of forum where staff can submit suggestions to make things better and improve your processes.
Sometimes your staff may need some persuasion to open up but it is a dialogue worth building. Of course not every suggestion will be good or viable, but rest assured there will be some real keepers in there..
Cutting costs is often difficult but one area where many businesses can easily cut costs is with forex and international money transfers. If your business trades internationally and sends money across borders, then the chances are that you are not doing it in the most cost effective manner.
Replying to our banks to handle international payments is a terrible idea as they charge high fees and apply bad rates. Instead educate yourself about alternative foreign exchange options.
Most businesses undertake extensive competitor research during the start up period but many then neglect to follow up on it. The competitor market will change over time as existing competitors adapt and change, and also as new players enter the market.
It is worth keeping a firm eye on what others in your space are up to. Of course, you don’t want to become obsessed but perhaps check in every 3 months by visiting your competitors stores, or websites to see what is new with them. Remember, we can often learn more from our enemies than we can from our friends!
Technology is constantly evolving. Tech innovations and breakthroughs can really serve as game changers in a business so you need to ensure you stay on the right side of it. For example, if you take payments are you pay stations up to date accepting Apple Pay? If not you could be out on a valuable losing sale . Or if you are still using fax to contact suppliers then I hate to break it to you but nobody is picking them up!
This also includes software and tech platforms such as SEO and Social Media. For example, whilst your business may have a good Facebook presence, the platform is in decline so perhaps it’s time to start working on building a Tik Tok following instead?
Finally, you need to know when to give yourself a breather. Running a business is tough and whilst there is always a lot of work to be done, sometimes you need to take a step back before you can take a step forward.
It’s amazing how much faster and better we work when we are rested and it’s equally astounding how many of our best ideas come to us when we are relaxed. So be sure to give yourself the afternoon off or even take a vacation when your body, mind and partner are telling you you need it!
Running a business has never been easy and 2022 is an especially challenging time. Still with these simple to implement 7 strategies, you give your business every extra chance to survive and thrive.