Running a small business shouldn’t be difficult. Profiting from small businesses doesn’t have to be a lifetime task that drains your energy and sucks your soul. Yet, for most small businesses owners and management, that’s exactly how it is. It’s taxing, it’s a soul-sucking monster, and it demands more than it cares to give. Running a small business is taxing and a never-ending task.
If the core business idea, the soundness of the idea, business strategy, the mechanism of operations, the components of the business plan, and the target market (or whether there’s a market for the product or service at all in the first place) are not the culprits, marketing, as a function, usually is. Marketing is a thankless task and more often than not, it takes money. If you own and/or run a small business, there are chances that you aren’t doing things you could be doing. Here are some of them:
Getting the “Growth” Mindset
Small businesses do start off well but they don’t sustain growth. If more than 80% of businesses fail in less than 5 years, it’s not because of the idea or the market. It’s because of the lack of entrepreneurial drive. That’s why it’s important to espouse the “entrepreneurial mindset.” It’s crucial to understand concepts such as leverage, the importance of hiring skilled talent, and a million other things that come with starting a business. Running one is unlike stressing out on a job. It’s the sum total of skills, mindset, traits, and personal motivation. Success grows out of a vision, a super-human ability to multitask, and a seemingly impossible schedule to complete every day.
Are you ready for it?
Local businesses remain local. Small businesses remain small. For small businesses, just managing the businesses becomes an all-consuming affair. There’s just no way a small business owner can think of anything far reaching such as going global and reaching out to the entire world in terms of target market. With the Internet and good mobile infrastructure available in most parts of the world, and with ecommerce as an able driver of cross-border trade, going global isn’t as difficult as it once was. Distribution, logistics, international sales, and global expansion are all possible. There are plenty of single owner businesses doing it as you’re reading this; so there’s ab-so-lute-ly no excuse why every business shouldn’t try to go global. It’s time to take your firm upward and forward.
Spending that Precious Dollar
Small businesses are perennially short of cash. Actually, most businesses are almost always short of cash. Here’s the perennial chicken and egg situation: If they don’t market, there’s no business. If there’s no business, there’s no excess cash left to do marketing. Successful businesses don’t worry so much about spending dollars on marketing because they believe in the law of numbers. They know that their marketing spend is an investment. The sheer number of customers reached using these investments in marketing will fetch paying customers.
With the options available today for marketing, however, there’s no reason why small businesses shouldn’t invest in marketing. It’s affordable, it allows you to scale up, and it puts – and keeps – you in business.
Developing Systems & Processes
Small and medium sized businesses that succeed – with regards to growing and scaling – do so because they develop systems. Small business owners tend to document every step involved from the moment a customers comes in all the to the pre-sales or customer support stage. Document processes, work to make each process simpler and more effective. The goal of developing systems is to ensure that no matter who joins the business, they should be able to understand what the business does and actually be able to follow steps involved in operation.
Small businesses owners, as Michael E. Gerber puts it in his book E-myth Revisited, suffer from entrepreneurial seizure. They fail to grow because they fail to let go of their own role in their respective businesses.
Building a Team of Growth Hackers
Business is all about leverage. Robert T. Kiyosaki talks about it ad infinitum in his book Rich Dad Poor Dad, and with good intention. Businesses aren’t businesses without leverage. Hiring a team is the easiest and the best way to build leverage into your business. Growing and scaling is hard, and there’s no doubt about it. Yet, it’s easier than it once was to find the right talent – even if the team is scattered geographically – to work for your business.
Opt for the human cloud; find freelancers and contractors if that works for your business. Focus on finding and building a team. Marketing gets leverage when you have skilled professionals working towards common goals. They could be anywhere in the world. In fact, in most developing nations, you’d still find great talent; they are ready to work at wages less than the minimum wage in the U.S. They’re still happy and committed because the dollar stretches where they live.
It’s easy to get lost into the rut of everyday management. This is business that we are in. Money changes hands. All too often, there’s a lot of work to be done. Getting customers, processing orders, setting operations into motion to deliver products or services, worrying about nitty-gritty, and fighting battles everyday. Technology can save the boat for now but small business owners are too busy firefighting to worry about web-based apps, technological tools, software, and such.
That’s exactly where small businesses lose out on the edge that successful businesses (large or small) have. Technology liberates you. It makes business processes more efficient. Often, it obviates the need for skilled talent or labor. It was technology that heralded the beginning of the Industrial revolution.
No matter what size your business is, and irrespective of the type of business you are in, find ways to leverage using technology. It is synonymous with the future of everything.
Small businesses relate to size but not dreams. You could be operating on your own or you might have a growing team, but it’s important to think big, and to go after what you want.
About the Author
Rohan advises premium clients in the capacity of a search strategy specialist at E2M Solutions and digital user experience consultant at OnlyDesign.org. Catch him on Twitter for a chat on any of these areas.