As I celebrate three years in business, I wanted to take the time to pause, reflect and share some of my learnings so that you may take these and put them into practice in your business.
Get comfortable with uncomfortable
There are lots of decisions to be made when you own your own business. Everything from what your fit-out should look like if you are a retailer or in hospitality, to deciding when is the right time to hire staff.
I see so many business owners shy away from decision saying that “it’s not their thing”, especially when it comes to finances and having those ‘difficult conversations with staff’ to only be left wondering when s**t hits the fan, what went wrong.
This is not the corporate world where everyone has a distinct specialisation, small business owners need to make it their business to learn the basics of business and keep themselves informed on what matters to their business. Then, you bring in the experts to support you.
Get intimate with numbers
When asking businesses what their number one issue is, I am often told “we need more customers” to which I respond, “right now, could you tell me how your current customers are performing?”
The common answer is yes, but when I drill down with a few more probing questions, the real answer is NO.
Whilst we all know that acquisition is far more costly than retention, it seems when it comes to retention, it is put into the too hard basket or seen as a low priority (right, because you’ve already won the business..wrong).
What many businesses don’t realise, however, is by having a clear picture of performance (and lack of performance) in revenues and expenses can uncover some pretty incredible pots of gold.
Stop blaming other people
Two businesses in my local area - a cafe and a florist, standing side by side often tell me how bad business is, that “nobody supports us’.
As I look around both these businesses, within the first ten seconds of walking in the door of both, there were ten easy fixes that would make a difference to their bottom line and alleged “support”. When providing some sincere feedback, I am faced with more “you don’t understand, we are different”.
When business succeeds, most business owners like to stand in the spotlight, when the business is failing, many business owners like to shine the spotlight onto others. This is your business, succeed or fail, you must stand up and be honest with yourself as to how you can do better and not blame it on others.
Nurture, nurture, nurture
Whilst most businesses are continually trying to acquire new customers and fill up their funnel, they fail to do one fundamental thing consistently...nurture the customers, they do have and understand the value they currently bring and the potential they can bring.
Consistent customer/client service seems so simple yet is often overlooked with the busyness of dealing with the operations of the day.
One of my favourite cafes lost my custom yesterday due to not just one or two bad days (I am pretty forgiving) but a build up of little things culminating to one very bad day of service and a very bad attitude.
Customers speak with their feet, oh, and social media, and are your most powerful source of positive PR and advertising so nurture the ones who support you, do your best and if you do stuff up, own it and make good.
Brands that create familiarity and trust = sales and long term advocacy.
Giovanna Lever is the founder and managing director of Sparrowly Group and keynote speaker on all things small business. She has helped many small to medium sized businesses become profitable, retain happy customers/clients and scale successfully. She is not into get rich quick funnel marketing, but rather scales business by consistent, sustainable business principles keeping people at the core (customer/clients and staff). She has successfully turned her business into a solo operational to a global workforce in three years. One that is profitable and most importantly cares about its clients and the people that work with her.