Ever feel like you love doing what you are doing but feel that there was a smarter way of doing it? I am sure you have heard of the 80-20 rule, 80 percent of your time is spent on 20 percent of your clients/customers. Do you have a reasonable solution for dealing with this problem? I don’t claim to have all the answers but I have worked with many business owners over the years and have questioned even more of them and many small businesses run into the same problems. This brief article will attempt to help you overcome some of the pitfalls that small businesses get roped into. Here is a list of potential solutions to those many problems.
- Systematize your income. This is the biggest problem that many small business owners run into in my opinion. Whether you are an HVAC contractor, a computer guru, marketing company or something else that provides a service. It would be my opinion that customers understand that they have to pay for your services and most are willing to do it. Develop an annual service contract that allows them to pay you on an ongoing basis rather than just when they need you. I would prefer to even see levels of service contracts as well. I like gold, silver and bronze but tailor this as you see fit. This allows you to be proactive rather than reactive to their needs. I strongly encourage this and it is tough at first to get over the hurdle.
- Be very specific about your target market. You don’t want to be all things to all people and your clients/customers don’t really want you to be this. If there is a person/entity you are helping that is draining your time and you are frustrated with them, chances are they are frustrated with you too. Figure out a way to enhance the relationship by communicating what is going on.
- Train your staff to be like you. Ok, we know we cannot clone ourselves, although that would be great; I am amazed how many staff people at companies are saying things the business owner would not want or allow. Be sure that everyone is on the same page. Make sure you know what you will do and know what you won’t do. Be sure your left arm knows what the right arm is doing. This partially helps for professional appearance but it also helps to be sure revenue is not lost. It amazes me how many staff people accidentally turn business away because they are not in sales and have no clue what goes on other than what they perceive (which is often times wrong).
- Price your services accordingly; I am also amazed how many business owners are undercompensating themselves for what they do. You don’t work for a hobby so you need to make sure that every job you do generates an acceptable rate of return for the risk that you take as the business owner. This needs to take into account all overhead, taxes, regulation, material and everything else that goes into the mix. It does NOT matter if someone down the street is 20% less and you feel you need to match the price. If you are losing money doing something, I would strongly encourage you to stop doing it. It may be just a matter of time before the “other guy” is out of business who is too cheap. Or, maybe more likely, customers realize they get what they pay for.
- There is no get rich quick scheme so don’t waste your time looking for it. It takes hard work to make a business work in the times we live in today. No matter what someone tries to tell you there is not a way to get rich without the work. There are no products or services that can do this and if someone tells you otherwise they are probably a scam or not worth your time. The saying “if it is too good to be true then it usually is” I believe is true. I would take out the word usually!
- Surround yourself with good, honest, hard-working staff and alliances to help do what you don’t do. There are many good business out there to partner with so that you don’t have to be a jack of all trades. I like to think of this as another revenue source. If you refer a customer to someone else in your field that lead is probably worth something to them. Who knows, a month from now they may have a lead for you that you may be willing to pay them for. Partnering with others in your area is a good idea. My partners are things that align with what I do on a daily basis but products that are not my bread and butter, I refer to mortgage brokers, banks, P&C firms, attorney’s and CPA’s. I don’t offer any of the same services they provide so it is a logical fit to have others that I trust that I can pass leads too when the time permits. The return is not always instant but it is good for us all in the long run.
I think you can enhance your business quite a bit just by making a few subtle tweaks to what you do. If you have any questions at all feel free to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can certainly follow us on social media as well. We are NOT business coaches but we do work with many business owners and have learned a great deal over the years from watching others and ourselves.