When I released Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, back in 2010, my focus was on helping entrepreneurs launch a business. But over the last few years, I’ve talked to dozens of business owners who seem to be struggling to stay in business. Some of the consistent issues I heard were about constant cash flow crunches, high staff turnover rates, feast or famine sales, and a lack of processes. I realized that most people had good business ideas, but didn’t know how to run a business, so I need help to “fix” their business.
That was the inspiration of my new book, Fix Your Business: A 90-Day Plan to Get Back Your Life and Reduce Chaos in Your Business. I wanted to help people get back on track with their businesses, including you. In honor of my book being published this week, I wanted to give you a sneak peek. Here are 32 ways you can fix what’s broken in your business right now.
- Get in the Reinventing Mindset
Sometimes shifting your thoughts to being open to making changes can be the most impactful way to make change happen. If you’ve been doing things the same way for years, it can be hard to evolve. Know that reinventing is the key to revitalizing your business and taking it to the next level.
- Hire help
I know so many entrepreneurs that try to do everything in their business themselves. That only works for so long! If you’re overwhelmed with the amount of work you have to do, simply hiring people can make a huge difference. Don’t spend your time doing $20 an hour work.
- Develop an Onboarding Process
Once you start hiring help, you’ll quickly realize you need a process to train them. It’s best to develop a 2-4-week onboarding process to train new staff. Create documents for this so that the process can be repeated. The more time you spend training to more likely your staff will perform to your expectations.
- Establish a Company Culture
When you ask yourself: what is our company culture? What answer comes to mind?
If nothing does, you probably don’t have one. Company culture refers to the environment you want to create for your employees. Do you want a casual workplace, where people can wear informal clothes or a virtual team where everyone works from home? Think through what kind of culture you want for your business.
- Develop Your Leadership Style
As you add to your team, you’ll need to learn how to develop your leadership style, to adjust as the business situations dictate. You’ll quickly learn which management styles work best, so pay attention to how your staff responds to how you lead.
- Gather Your Kitchen Cabinet of Advisors
I’m a big fan of having a confidential sounding board as a business owner. You need people around you who are invested in your success. So you can bounce around ideas , and they will serve as your business mentors. Look to fellow entrepreneurs, potential customer, industry mentors, and an accountant and CPA.
- Own Your Money Management
Not everyone loves dealing with money issues in their business’ cash, but it’s imperative that you get comfortable with managing cash flow in your business. Pay attention to your bill management, credit lines, accounts receivables, accounts payable, and if needed develop a collections process.
- Tighten Your Accounting
If you’ve made it this far in your small business using a spreadsheet to manage your accounting, that might be part of the reason you need to fix things. You should be using accounting software to manage your monthly accounting and banking records. It is affordable, easy to use, or hire a seasoned bookkeeper or accountant to keep your records up-to-date.
- Get on Top of Your Business Taxes
Taxes are a major concern for business owners. You must make quarterly tax payments. Business taxes are due March 15th and personal taxes are due April 15th. If you have a payroll, you must manage payroll taxes unless you use a payroll service. Not managing you taxes properly is an easy way to get in trouble with the IRS. Hire a tax professional, to keep your accounting updated, provide tax planning advice, and to make sure your taxes are filed on time.
- Consider Funding Options
Many businesses flounder simply because they are undercapitalized. You may have been reluctant to apply for a business line of credit or a business loan, but doing so will ensure that you are able to manage cash flow and have money to invest in your business. Always try the bank first before pursuing alternative lenders.
- Establish a Collections Process
If you struggle with clients not paying on time, it’s time to establish a collections process. Establish penalties for late payments, such as charging an additional 2% on past-due invoices, or consider discounting invoices that are paid early. Clearly communicate what your process is so clients know that they need to pay on time.
- Monitor Your Profitability
If it’s been a while since you looked at your profit margin, now’s a good time. Your expenses surely have risen, so you may no longer be as profitable as you once were. Consider raising your prices gradually in the coming months to increase your profitability.
- Build Your Systems and Procedures
Every business has routine tasks. You need to document how you want things done. This has two benefits: first, it helps you streamline those processes. Second, if and when you hand those tasks onto other employees, they can follow the same systems and procedures that you have established.
- Stop Being the “Go-To” for Everyone
Are you someone who never delegates tasks because you have a false belief that you’re the best person for the job? If so, it’s time to let go. Your main job is to run your company and general sales. The accounting, marketing, and service should be handled by professionals you’ve hired. Delegating responsibilities frees you up to work on business strategy and stop being a bottleneck in your business.
- Find the Tech Tools For Your Business
There is a tool or software for just about everything you would want to do with your business. Whether you need a way to better manage your social media marketing, your accounting, or project management, there’s a tool. Yes, some cost money, but it’s well worth the expense if it can help your business become more productive.
- Stay on the Cutting Edge of Technology
If your computers or other business software is out of date, it may be holding you back from getting more done. Invest in equipment that makes your work easier.
- Measure What’s Going On In Your Business
You may be struggling because you are not measuring all of the business systems and marketing efforts in your business. Now’s a great time to review metrics on your website traffic, email open rates, sales conversions, shopping cart abandonment rates, and acquisition costs, to name a few.
- Know Why and How Customers Buy from You
How well do you know and understand your customers? Talk to them and survey them. Use the insight to better deliver exactly what they want. For example, what is your customer’s favorite social media channel? Find out and use it to communicate with them.
- Focus on Customer Satisfaction
Within 7-10 days after a sale email and survey your customers. They will tell you where the problems lies in your business. If they’re happy, you’ll attract more sales. If they’re dissatisfied, they may leave bad reviews on yelp, tell others, or not buy anything else. Spend your time fixing your customer service issues.
- Claim Your Niche
Have you been trying to be all things to all types of customers? Quite honestly, that’s not doing your company any good. Instead, focus on the services or products that you deliver best and select a specific audience to serve. That’s your niche.
- Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition
Once you’ve landed on a niche, delve into what makes your products or services better than the competition. This is called your unique selling proposition. It’s your secret sauce or your moonwalk. What is special about how you do business? How do you solve problems for your customers?
- Assess if Your Product is Still Relevant
There comes a time for many businesses when they become obsolete, or close to it. As technology evolves, demand for your business may be waning. If so, it’s time to consider updating your services or extending products into new areas.
- Consider Whether Your Niche Needs Updating
In addition to your products, you should also assess your niche. You may have started out serving one segment and now you need to shift your marketing focus.
- Is it Time for a Brand Refresh?
If you’ve been in business a while you need to review whether you brand needs to evolve with the changing needs of the market. Does your brand currently reflect who you are as a business and who you serve? If not, it’s time for some branding update.
- Are You Doing Mobile Marketing Yet?
In marketing strategy today, it’s a mobile first world. Building your brand’s online is key from social media, online ads, and content marketing. It’s also important to make sure your website looks great from a mobile device and that you are doing mobile web marketing, as it’s a new and exciting area to explore.
- Is Your Social Media Marketing Working?
Once you know who your customers are and where they spend time online, you can assess your marketing efforts to determine if you’re reaching them. Start by reviewing your Google Analytics and click thru rates of your online advertising. What is your cost-per-click?
- Create Your Sales Process
Do you have a “sales process?” If you don’t have one. Identify a target list of customers? Or create an ideal customer profile. And three ways to attract that customer to your brand. How do customers end up in your sales funnel? How do you nurture those leads and move them toward a sale? What is your follow-up after the sale?
- Hire Your Salesperson
If you are the only person in your business that generates sales, you might be benefit from hiring a salesperson. There’s no reason you need to be doing the selling. A dedicated sales rep can help you reach more customers while you focus on high-level strategic decisions.
- Plan, Plan, Plan
Another major error entrepreneur’s make is not planning. Everything from your business plan to strategy to exit plan needs to not only be established, but updated over time. Make an effort to update your business plan or strategic plan throughout the year and then use it to run your business.
- Pay Attention to Competitors and Industry Trends
Staying on top of what’s happening in your field will be your competitive advantage. Knowing how your competitors are marketing, and when they release new products can affect your own strategy. Stay on top of industry trends so that you know about technological advances that could affect your business.
- Anticipate Your Customers’ Needs
Being one step ahead of your customers will help you shine. Stay tapped into customer feedback so you know the issues your customers are facing. Then use this data to shape future products and launches.
- Take Your Business to the Next Level
No business is ever “fixed”. But if you make an effort to continually improve your business, you won’t reach a crisis point where things are completely overwhelming. Keep the mindset of life long learner, and your business will thrive.
If you want more in-depth instruction on how to improve your business, grab my new book Fix Your Business, 90-day Plan to Get Back Your Life and Reduce Chaos in Your Business. I’m sure it will put you on the path to business success.