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Whatever type of small business you run, it can sometimes feel like you spend your whole day tackling problems. There’s a problem with your website. A client isn’t happy. Your cash flow situation is alarming, and you need to chase up those late invoices now.
To avoid spending all your time in “fire fighting” mode, it’s crucial to get to grips with these three key challenges. That way, you’ll see real, fast business growth. Some of these tips may sound challenging a bit, especially when you’ll have to follow them regularly. But, as they put it on Business Opportunities, miracles happen outside your comfort zone.
Finances are first on this list because they can (and often do!) make or break a small business.
Do you know what you have coming in and going out each month? If you only know whether your business is turning a profit once you file your taxes, more than a year after some of those transactions took place, then it’s impossible to make good decisions on a day to day basis.
Do you have a mad scramble to get your books up-to-date each year? As well as being very stressful, this is an easy way to introduce errors: you’re rushing, and you’re almost certainly not a trained bookkeeper.
If you’re thinking of hiring help, this article from Pilot is a great in-depth guide to what a bookkeeper can do for you (and how they differ from an accountant).
The next big challenge that small businesses face is bringing in new clients. After all, without new clients, your business won’t last long: even if you do a lot of repeat business (see #3), you’ll eventually need to replace some of your existing clients.
You need a constant supply of new leads (potential customers). A couple of great ways to get these are:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): if your website is top of Google for relevant search terms, people who are looking for your product or service will come straight to you.
- Content marketing: by producing useful, high-quality blog posts or videos, you’ll draw in potential customers who are interested in what you have to offer. They might not be ready to buy straight away, but once they are, you’ll be top of their mind.
To stay in touch with leads, you must have an email list that they can sign up for. Make this as easy and straightforward as possible, and offer them some sort of incentive for signing up – an exclusive discount on your products, a free whitepaper, or anything that’s appropriate for your industry.
Once someone’s bought from you, they trust you and (hopefully!) they like your products or services enough to want to buy again.
Many small businesses, though, virtually ignore their existing clients. They don’t think to contact them, even when they have a new product out.
Make sure you’re getting in touch with existing clients on a reasonably regular basis. That might be to offer some tips for getting the most out of your product, to send them a special discount code, or even to ask them to write a review or testimonial about your services.
If you sell an ongoing service, where clients pay a recurring fee, then investing a little time in maintaining your relationship could dramatically reduce your “churn rate”. Simple acts like sending a holiday greetings card, or offering a small freebie once in a while, can go a very long way.
Whichever of these three things is your biggest challenge right now, look for a way to put in place a system to help deal with it. For instance, you might decide to have a specific time each week when you bring your books up-to-date, or you might get in place an email sequence to help nurture new leads. A few small simple steps here could make all the difference.