10 Underrated Factors that Contribute to Small Business Success
Small and micro businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. They grow and employ at a much faster rate than their enterprise counterparts. Although they have many of the same components as large enterprises, there are situations that make small businesses more vulnerable than large organizations. While they may have the advantage of getting to know their clientele better and may have lower operating costs, the loss of a major client or an unexpected illness could cause irreparable damage or even result in business closure. However, many of these vulnerabilities can be neutralized by employing these best practices.
- Vision, Mission and Strategic Plan
It’s much easier to reach your destination when you have a clear roadmap and a purpose for going there. Having a clear Vision and Mission will keep you focused on your ultimate goal. Strategic Plans are not just for large organizations, they are very beneficial to organizations of all sizes. Using a Strategic Plan will help guide your decisions and anchor them to your goals.
- Start with a Strong Foundation
Like any structure, the ground/basement floor is what supports the floors above; if the foundation is weak, all other components it supports will also be weak, vulnerable and unstable. For small and micro businesses, your foundation consists of your people – this includes the owner, your operations and your products and/or services. If there is weakness or gaps in any of these areas, everything else will be affected. So, it’s important to fill those gaps with the 4 R’s: the right people, doing the right tasks, using the right tools in the right way.
- Get Support
No business owner or entrepreneur knows everything they need to know about running a business; even if you think you do, sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. This is where supports become important. If sales or marketing is a life-sucking black hole for you – get support from someone who specializes in this area. The general rule is the smaller your team, the more external support you will need. So, if you’re a solopreneur, you will most likely need lots of support. This can come in the form of professional service providers, outsourcing, strategic partnerships, employees etc.
- Clearly Define Roles and Expectations
Be very clear about who’s responsible for what and who does what. With smaller teams, each person may perform two or more roles or functions. To avoid the “I thought you were doing that” scenario, document clear roles profiles and ensure everyone receives this information. An Organization Chart can also be used to identify roles – even if one name fills all the boxes.
- Effective Communication and Documentation
Just as roles need to be clear, so does your communications – both internal and external. This keeps everyone on the same page and ensures a level of consistency.
- Maximize Productivity
With fewer hands doing the work, the main objective is to work efficiently to get as more done is less time and with less effort. Technology has allowed small businesses to maximize output with minimal effort and human resources. Specifically, automation, digital adoption and platforms that allow teams to work remotely or with economies of scale has boosted productivity and lowered costs.
- Implement Strong Systems and Processes
Systems and processes are the backbone of your operations so they need to be efficient, clear, predictable, transferable and measurable. Creating systems that automate tasks and remove redundancies will reduce errors, confusion, ambiguities and cut training time in half. The ultimate result is lower operating costs.
- Business Continuity
One of the most vulnerable areas for small businesses – specifically micro businesses, is business continuity. If you are a team of one or two, what happens if you or a family member become ill and you need to step away from your business? If you hold most of the knowledge, skills or perform most of the tasks, no one can fill this void in your absence. If there’s an unexpected resignation or turnover in a large team, someone can pick up the slack, but for a solopreneur, consultant or small organization, this may not be the case. Having proper systems and processes in place can reduce your risk by having written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place that outline who does what, when and how.
Keep your data safe. Again, for small businesses, the owner is typically the one that produces company information and if they are not around when something happens, no one has access to that information, the business may have to seize operations. Ensuring that the data is safe and easily accessible if the owner is not available is a good precaution to take.
- Maximize Visibility
Before social media and digital marketing, it was very costly for small companies to get the visibility and brand recognition that larger organizations enjoyed, plus they typically have a large marketing budget to match. Social media and accessible technology has leveled the playing field allowing small businesses to be as visible as any of their large competitors, so use it!
Utilizing these best practices in your small business can reduce your risk, buy you an extra layer of security and stability as well as provide a cushion for unforeseen challenges. In addition, they will allow your business to scale by having all the key components, clear processes and documentation in place.
How does your small business stack up?
Kara Morgan is an Efficiency Expert, Certified Project Manager and Lead Innovator at PlanIt! Outsourcing Solutions and PlanIt! Solar Blinds. She provides full service, full spectrum operational efficiency services and energy efficiency products to busy, overwhelmed, organized-challenged business owners wanting to scale their businesses and lower operating costs by helping them regain control of their time, restore order, find clarity and hope while maximizing capacity and efficiency. Follow Kara on Facebook and Twitter.