By: Roberta Chinsky Matuson, Monster Contributing Writer
Small business success is top of mind for business owners who are hoping that the new year will be an improvement. With that in mind, we recently asked our readers to share their top tips for small business success. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Business Plan Success. A well prepared business plan will keep your company focused and on track for growth and business success. Christine Krivicich Cesarino of Advantage Payroll Services recommends small business owner’s dust off their business plans to make sure they have the right strategy in place for the new year.
2. Business Strategy. A strong business strategy, combined with alignment and discipline, can yield impressive small business growth. Ann Latham, president of Uncommon Clarity advises her clients to begin with a clear and short list of top priorities.
“What are the few things you can do that would really make a difference?” This could range from launching a new product to managing your most profitable set of clients to make them more profitable still. “You then must align your people and resources behind the strategy in order to achieve high levels of success,” notes Latham.
3. Customer Service. Jason Maxwell, Founder of MassPay Payroll Services advises small business owners to make great customer service the thing that sets you apart from the competition. “The best products in the world won't get you nearly as far as prioritizing relationships with those who buy them,” states Maxwell.
4. Recruiting. Great customer services begins with a recruiting strategy that attracts great people. Business Owner Andrew Schrage, CEO of MoneyCrashers.com spends a great deal of time recruiting. “Choosing the right employee for your company has dual benefits: you know going in that the person is the right fit, and you can significantly reduce employee turnover.”
Schrage adds that employee turnover costs “are far reaching and can be the death knell of any small business.”
5. Hiring Process. Workplace expert and image consultant, Gretchen Neels, President, Washington, DC based Neels & Company offers the following tips regarding the hiring process and young professionals. Neels recommends asking these three interview questions in your next interview to avoid hiring candidates who will be reluctant to do “grunt” work:
- Were they responsible for paying any of their higher education costs while in school? If so, what portion and how did they do it?
- During high school or college, did they work in a demanding, low status position, such as retail sales, wait staff, or my very favorite, dishwasher?
- Ask them how they feel about getting coffee, answering phones and cleaning the bathrooms, then sit back and LISTEN! If you get an enthusiastic, I will do whatever it takes to get the job done, you’re on your way to a good hire.
6. Management. Starting a small business is one thing. Managing it is another. Ira Bryck, Director of the UMass Family Business Center, advises small business owners to look at carefully at managing teams to do their job well, provide them with the necessary resources and coaching, enabling them to do the part of the job they do best.
7. Due Diligence in Hiring. Business coach Jamie Tardy tells the story of a business owner whose hiring mistakes came from not going as deep as he could in the interview process. He took the applicants at face value. Tardy recommends background checks and asking the question, When I call your former employer what are they going to tell me about you?
8. Small Business - Big Advantage. Big chains may have the advantage when it comes to price, but small business has the advantage when it comes to quality, service and knowledge. John Tschohl of The Service Quality Institute and author of Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service advises small business owners to focus is on building relationships and empowering your people to make decisions in favor of your customer.
9. Discipline. “You need to maintain your small business' focus on what's important and keep it there, advises Ron Cappello, CEO of Infinia Group. Cappello recommends forcing yourself to make one more call or one more contact at the end of everyday. The discipline will make you think through what you've done that day and plant another seed needed to get a sale.
10. Small Business Innovation. "Small businesses have advantages over large companies when it comes to business innovation: intimacy and speed," according to Phil Symchych, president of SYMCO & CO. "They are close to their customers, understand their needs and can respond with great speed.” Look past the obvious. Be innovative and do what your competitors haven't thought of.
We hope this list provides you with ideas to make the coming year your most successful yet!
© 2012 Human Resource Solutions. All rights reserved.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions and author of the highly acclaimed book Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-5 Leadership pick. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, HR Matters.