Best Business Practices For Small-Size Businesses

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Did you know that 20% of small businesses fail within the first year? In fact, most small businesses do not survive past the five-year mark.

In this post, we’ve compiled best business practices to give you a headstart and propel your small business towards stability.

Spend Time Wisely

Your time is your most important capital. You have to be a well-organized and disciplined person to be a successful entrepreneur.

Determine how much time you spend on activities that:

  • Improve your product/service
  • Market your product
  • Keep your business structured and running (administrative tasks)
  • Build a reliable, high-performing team

Name and list every task in each of these categories. Once done, sort these tasks into two broad categories:

  • Long-term strategy 
  • Day-to-day activities

Aim to spend 60% of your time on tasks concerning long-term strategy and 40% of your work time on day-to-day activities. As your business grows, dedicate more time to the strategy side and reduce the time you invest in everyday activities.

As a business owner, your job is to work on the business, not in the business. If you try handling all administrative tasks independently, you may struggle to plan and execute a thought-out business strategy.

Automate Repetitive Administrative Tasks

Automation can be a lifesaver for small business owners short on time. So it’s a good idea to automate the following business-related tasks using automation tools.

  • Financial Tasks: Invoice reminders, receipt generation, payroll, bill payments, etc.
  • Marketing Tasks: Social media posts, e-commerce reminders, event registrations, website traffic tracking, auto-followup for leads.
  • Customer Support Tasks: Sending email sequences, auto-responding common query emails, tracking resolutions, and auto-collecting feedback.
  • Administrative Tasks: File backups, employee time-tracking, meeting scheduling, note-taking, tracking task progress.

Boost Your Sales Game

Here’s how to elevate your sales efforts, reach more prospects, and turn those connections into loyal customers.

Equip Yourself with Powerful Sales Software

The most successful sales teams use software that works for them. Here’s why:

  • CRM Tools: Your big Rolodex has evolved into intelligent customer relationship management (CRM) tools. These digital platforms keep track of your interactions with prospects and customers, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks. Trello and Close are both popular options here.
  • Cold Calling and Prospecting Tools: Cold calling is still effective when done right. Tools that log your scripts and track your campaigns make it even more efficient.
  • Outbound Contact Center Tools: If you’re reaching out to a vast number of prospects, an outbound contact center tool might be your best ally. It streamlines your efforts and ensures that every lead is followed up.

Recognize Your Product’s Imperfections with Objection Handling

Every product has its weaknesses. The price, reliability, or customer service might be causing prospects to hesitate. Here’s how to overcome those objections:

  • Identify Weaknesses: Know where your product falls short. Is it too expensive? Are there concerns about ethics? Understand these weak points so that you can address them head-on.
  • Craft Convincing Counterarguments: Have responses ready to show prospects why these weaknesses shouldn’t deter them. Knowing how to handle objections can be the key to closing a deal.

Understand Your Decision-Makers

Knowing your decision-maker is essential whether you’re selling to consumers or businesses.

Look at spending habits, psychographics, and demographics. Who’s your best customer?

Know the size, industry, and stakeholders of your best customers. Sometimes, you’ll need to sell to multiple influencers or stakeholders. Be prepared to appeal to them all.

Construct a Winning Playbook by Formalizing Your Sales Process

No, you don’t need a 2,000-page manual, but having a well-documented playbook can make all the difference.

  • Outline Strengths and Weaknesses: Make sure everyone on the team knows what makes your product awesome and where it falls short.
  • Set Guidelines for Demos, Discounts, and Deals: Knowing how to demo your product, what discounts you can offer, and how to close big deals should be standardized across your team. While establishing guidelines for demos, it’s essential to consider a variety of tools that cater to unique organizational needs. For those seeking to streamline their sales processes, taking the time to explore alternatives to Demostack can provide valuable insights into optimizing demo strategies.
  • Facilitate Knowledge Sharing: Create a system where information about prospects and past customers is easily accessible to everyone.

Elevate Customer Service

Here’s a guide to boosting your customer service game, nurturing loyal customers, and building a lasting reputation.

Prioritize Customer Support & Feedback

Prioritize your customers by valuing their feedback and offering responsive and helpful customer support.

Offer individual 1:1 attention. If they report an issue or come up with a query, address it within 24 hours. And if they leave a suggestion or concern, highlight it on your company page or tell them what you’re doing about it.

At the end of the day, your customers are what keep your business alive.

Be Proactive

  • Preemptive Communication: If something’s coming up that affects your customers, don’t wait for them to ask. Tell them in advance. Whether it’s a maintenance break or a holiday closure, early communication builds trust.
  • Prevent Future Confusions: By being proactive, you save your customers’ confusion and the time spent handling inquiries. It’s a win-win that improves the overall customer experience.

Answer Before Your Customer Asks

  • Same-Day Responses: 53% of customers expect a response within the day. Can you meet this expectation? If not, you’re letting potential loyalty slip through your fingers.
  • Avoid the Voicemail Trap: If you can answer calls instead of letting them go to voicemail, you’re already ahead. Prompt responses foster a sense of care and connection.

Get Customer Service Tools

  • Invest in Customer Service Software: If your business is growing, a basic setup might not cut it anymore. Find tools that help you respond across all platforms within a day. That’s how you show your customers that they’re valued.
  • Centralize Your Contacts: Platforms like RingCentral Engage Digital™ consolidate all your messages, making it easier for you to respond without missing anything.

Navigating Social Media Responses

  • Understand the Public Nature of Social Media: A delayed response to an email might irritate one customer. A delayed response to a tweet might irritate many. The public nature of social media means you need to be on your toes.
  • Utilize Contact Center Tools: Managing multiple social media platforms? Contact center tools can help. They bring all your channels into one place, streamlining your responsiveness.

Know When to Draw the Line

  • Assess Customer Relationships Regularly: Sometimes, a customer’s demands may outweigh their value to your business. It’s vital to recognize when a relationship isn’t beneficial anymore.
  • It’s Okay to Say No: If a customer consumes a disproportionate chunk of your resources without payoff, it might be time to reassess. Your business’s well-being comes first.

Build Financial Strength

Financial stability isn’t just about crunching numbers. It’s a comprehensive strategy that integrates pricing, cash flow management, and work-life balance.

Separate Your Business And Personal Bank Accounts 

As a new business owner, you might be tempted to continue using your personal account for managing business-related finances. However, in the long run, it will damage your business. Commingling can lead to inaccurate financial records, inaccurate tax payments, or your business’ loss of legal recognition.

Nail the Price Tag

  • Find Your Balance: A product’s price can’t be too low or too high. It has to reflect its value and allow you a fair profit margin. The sweet spot is where demand meets profitability.
  • Craft a Researched Strategy: The right pricing is more than a gut feeling; it involves market research, competitive analysis, and constant adaptation. It’s an ongoing process that keeps customers coming without compromising your profits.

Master the Cash Flow Dance

  • Understand the Cycle: From making a sale to getting paid, know your cash flow cycle inside and out. Any delay or inefficiency can create a bottleneck that threatens your business.
  • Stay Vigilant and Adaptive: Cash flow isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it aspect. It needs regular monitoring and the ability to adapt quickly to unexpected situations. Your survival depends on it.

Balance Work and Life

  • Avoid the 24/7 Trap: It’s easy to fall into a never-ending work cycle, especially in home-based businesses. But burnout is real, and it can crash your dreams.
  • Find the Right Tools: If scheduling isn’t your strong suit, consider tools that can help you organize your time. Remote working tools are not just about collaboration; they can also aid in work-life balance.
  • Remember the Big Picture: Business is essential, but so are family and friends. A sustainable success story involves a balanced life where all the vital parts get their fair share of attention.

Build a Robust Small Business Administration

Small business administration is a multifaceted endeavor that requires particular attention to hiring, onboarding, and security practices. Implementing these core strategies is crucial to create a thriving environment for your employees and to keep your business running smoothly and securely.

Expand the Hiring Horizon

  • Diversify Your Sources: Utilize various platforms, from social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, to job sites like Monster.com and Indeed.com. Even consider recruiters for specialized roles.
  • Consider Remote Hiring: Don’t limit yourself to your local network. The remote workforce is expanding, and so should your recruiting strategies.
  • Embrace Different Perspectives: A mix of different hiring sources ensures a diverse pool of candidates, bringing fresh and innovative ideas into your business.

Structure Onboarding for Success

  • Plan and Checklist: Have an organized onboarding plan, even a simple checklist. This will ensure a smooth transition for the new hire and establish a productive start.
  • Integrate IT Practices: Utilize unified communication tools that offer multiple functions like video conferencing, business calls, and team messaging. Fewer tools mean quicker adaptation and lower costs.

Strengthen Your Digital Fortress

  • Software Updates: Regularly updating your software is a simple but essential step in defending against cyber threats.
  • Two-Factor Authentication and Password Security: Implement two-factor authentication and avoid using the same password across devices. Tools like LastPass can help manage your passwords securely.
  • Regular Security Training: Make security awareness a part of your company culture. Regular training sessions can keep your team vigilant and informed about the latest threats.

Follow Marketing Best Practices

Small business marketing is about understanding your audience, creating impactful advertising, and utilizing the digital platform to your advantage.

Understand Your Target Market

  • Build Customer Personas: Create detailed profiles of your typical customers to guide your marketing efforts.
  • Strategize: Keep track of your customers’ needs and preferences, adapting as the market evolves.

Advertise with Precision

  • Set Realistic and Measurable Goals: Identify what you’re measuring, be it new customers, sign-ups, or visits.
  • Choose the Right Platform: Understand which platforms best suit your business. It could be Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
  • Follow-Up Strategy: Have a post-campaign plan. Whether nurturing leads or closing sales, know what’s next after the ad campaign.
  • Diversify Advertising Channels: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Experiment with different channels to find what works best for you.

Design an Effective Website

  • Clear Contact Information: Make sure your contact information is easily accessible, preferably on the homepage.
  • Easy Navigation: The website design should be intuitive, guiding visitors to what they want to see.
  • Include Testimonials: If possible, add reviews and testimonials to build trust.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A well-optimized website can make your business more discoverable on search engines like Google.

Create a Content Marketing Strategy

  • Target Industry-Specific Topics: Create content that speaks to your industry and what your potential customers might be looking for.
  • Educational Content: Offer valuable insights, tutorials, or guides that can help your customers.
  • Consistency: Regularly update your blog or social media with fresh content.
  • Utilize Social Media: Engage with your audience on social platforms to build community and brand loyalty.

Leverage Customer Feedback

  • Encourage Reviews: Ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google or Yelp.
  • Respond to Feedback: Show that you value customer opinions by responding to reviews and comments.

Protect Your Intellectual Property

Whether it’s a unique product design, a carefully crafted marketing message, or a cutting-edge software solution, protecting your intellectual property (IP) can help you maintain a competitive edge.

Register Your Intellectual Property

Identify what is unique and valuable in your products, services, brand, or content. This may include logos, product designs, proprietary software, and unique processes.

Next, use copyrights, trademarks, and patents to protect your IP.

  • Copyright: Protects original works like writings, music, and artwork.
  • Trademark: Protects symbols, names, and slogans used to recognize goods and services.
  • Patent: Protects new inventions or discoveries.

Protect Your Online Presence

Register a domain that reflects your brand to prevent others from using it. Next, register your social profiles. Add consistent branding and copyright notices.

You can deter theft by using watermarks on visual content and disabling the copy-paste function on your website

Implement Cybersecurity Measures

Use strong passwords and data encryption to protect sensitive information. Also, keep software up to date to fend off potential threats.

Utilize Legal Agreements

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) ensure that employees and partners cannot share confidential information. Similarly, Proprietary Information Agreements (PIAs) protect proprietary information within the company.

Monitor Your Intellectual Property

You can use Google Alerts to receive notifications if similar content is posted online. You can also make use of plagiarism detectors to identify duplicate content and regular audits to review how your IP is being used internally and externally. Consulting with an IP attorney can provide you with tailored strategies to protect your intellectual property if needed.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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