Working with countless SMEs since 2005, we've gained some good insight into what's hurting companies today.
This may seem like beating a dead horse, and that's because it absolutely is--yet so many SMEs fail because they don't look special. Even if they are special, their customers aren't receiving them that way. If you look like everyone else, there's no reason for anyone to come to your doors. If you know your company is better than everyone else, you need to get proper branding and marketing to showcase that talent to your target market.
It is not required to pass a class or take a quiz on being a leader of a business. Anyone could go out and do it today with no one telling them to hold the phone. Moreover, most people aren't good at being leaders--it takes a lot of time and practice to become effective in this role. With all the other things business owners have to do, it's no wonder this qualification falls by the wayside. Grab a book, take some classes and focus on this personal improvement--your sales will thank you.
It's amazing how few companies follow their business plan and even more how few update it regularly. Even if you just have regular strategy meetings with your top people you are more likely to succeed. Take time to brainstorm and plan your next moves.
No, not guillotines. We're talking about taking all the hard work you did planning and turning it into work. The steady and effective kind. Break your strategy down into 3 years with delineations at each year, month and week. Having a road map will ensure you're staying on-track. Remember to quantify and celebrate your victories!
It can take a long time to nail down exactly how you want, and need, to do business. Some SMEs never develop this side of the company, thinking the flexibility of adaptation will make them better off. This is, of course, incorrect--when we have a standard of practice that is unwavering, we look for solutions to fit this rather than excuses not to. Having systems also makes training and performance of employees a cinch when compared to willy-nilly ways and plans.
Systems are going to be your biggest allies here--having tasks outlined, and the ways to do them, will go a long way in ensuring your employees are doing what they need to when they need to. Consider going to a 24-hour work week (4 6s)--countless studies have shown that 5 8-hour work weeks are ineffective and wasteful. Reality will always beat Tradition when it comes to business.
Employees are looking more towards how it "feels" to be at work, rather than what they're doing. Clarify your company's purpose, mission and values. Then shift your business, radically if necessary, to follow these principles. This will better attract the kinds of people you want and need. A healthy and clear vision can go a long way to financial success.
Creating a team of Badasses
Do you have employees or contractors who you wish weren't around? Drop them and find your ideal candidates. Don't have a clear vision on what your "perfect" employee would be? Better get one. Many businesses fail because the owners are focused on the daily minutiae rather than more important tasks. Offload your nonsense work to someone else who can't do what you should do.
Catering to their Staff
So, you have a bunch of badasses working for you? Good. Never let them forget how much you appreciate and value them. Take care of your staff and they'll take care of your clients. Give them the tools they need to succeed: see what motivates them, train them properly, offer spiffs and rewards, give recognition and raises... you get the idea.
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