Businesses succeed, and businesses fail. While having a great business plan and model can help at the start, maintaining that success and even growing is a challenge for many.
Ongoing success can be found in three pillars:
- Adding Value
- Reducing Costs
Continuing Education and Training
If there is one tip that will help you improve your business and your chances of ongoing success, in the long run, it is a commitment to continuing education. You don’t necessarily need to go back to university, either. Though working on getting an online MBA will help you lead your business, especially with a global perspective, it isn’t the only way to learn.
The same does apply to services. Listen to what your customers need. Work to improve the services you currently offer, but as you expand, you will want to look into adding services that complement the ones you already have in your roster. This is applicable if you’re a real estate agent, lawyer, or even if you offer construction takeoff services. This way, you can add value by addressing additional services your customers need. They will already trust you and will naturally wish to extend services down the line.
Even if you do go and earn an online MBA, it is in your best interest to continue to learn at every juncture. This can be done on your own time by staying up to date on industry reports and even academic journals. It could also be done in a more formal setting, like a workshop or industry talk.
It isn’t just you who needs to continue their education for the sake of your business. One of the best benefits that you can give to your employees is the chance to continue to learn and grow their own skillset. Small businesses, in particular, will have limited expansion opportunities, so to keep a loyal team by your side, you need to help them grow in other ways.
Your success should be their success and vice versa. They should be able to grow in their career as your business expands, and you should help them by sponsoring training and offering education opportunities whenever you can.
Only by improving together can you lift your business higher, and with this great list of opportunities you won’t be hard-pressed to improve your team:
- An Online MBA
An online MBA is probably the best tool you can have when it comes to starting and building a business. The key word here is online. A standard MBA that requires you to take time off from work or your business, even if it’s on a night schedule, is not one that will help you see your goals through.
There are so many benefits to completing an online MBA, especially as an established business owner. For one, you only need to tackle one course at a time so that you can balance out your business and your online MBA with ease. Add in a career coach and no mandatory log-in times, and you have everything you need to succeed in both ventures.
The best part about completing an online MBA as a business owner, and even someone who is just looking to start their own business, is the dedicated career support. You can go in with a real, workable example that you can immediately start improving as you learn. You will also have a career coach that can help you take what you have learned and make headway with your business.
Just remember to choose the online MBA specialty based on what you need the most. If you already have a lot of experience managing teams, then it might be better to specialize in a different field so that you are a better, more rounded leader.
An online MBA isn’t the only place where you can learn. There will be workshops available – both digitally and in-person – to help you build up and work on the skills that you feel are lacking. This can be very targeted, so for example, if you want help with a public speaking or leading a meeting, then there are workshops out there for you.
- Courses and Diplomas
Short courses are another way you can learn, and again can be a great way to add continuous value to your online MBA. A great leader, for example, needs to understand what everyone in their company is doing, at least on the surface level. Knowing what they are doing is a far cry from being able to do that job, but it does mean you have a more realistic set of expectations as to what is and isn’t possible.
Similarly, you can easily afford to sponsor your employees to take these short courses and diplomas. Google tools, for example, are very important to know how to do, and you can require your team to complete the courses they need to use Google’s tools better. The best part? They are free to take.
- Conferences and Conventions
The industry will move with or without you, and the best way to stay on the pulse of what is happening in your industry is to attend (in person or virtually) conferences or conventions. There will be talks, other businesses doing innovative things, and so much more. It’s a great opportunity to represent your business and learn many things from your competitors.
- Talks and Industry Events
Conventions aren’t the only place where you can learn. Chances are there will be talks and other industry events you can attend where you can hear from top experts in their field on the state of the industry as a whole, as well as future challenges and how businesses should address them.
Finally, read. Read the news, read industry reports, read non-fiction, and even just read for fun. There is real value to be had when you read. You can increase skills and knowledge, just by taking up the habit.
Value Added: How to Continue to Appeal to Customers
Just as you always need to strive to learn more and improve your business, so too, do you need to add value to your customers. Customers want that relationship. They don’t just want a great product; they want to feel like they’ve made the best decision in choosing you to buy from or hire.
Adding value isn’t important for one-time customers. Rather, it is important for those who would use your brand again and again. Repeat business is big money. Repeat customers spend 300% more on average than one-time customers. They are also twice as likely to refer your business to friends and family.
If there is just one stat that will convince you of the importance of repeat customers, know that by having just 20% of your customer base remain loyal, you can improve future profits by 80%. They are easier to sell to, will refer your business, and spend more. Convincing a one-time customer to become a loyal customer? That requires you to provide them with the value they need to see you as the best deal for them.
Content is one of the best and easiest ways that you can add value to your customers. On social media, the content in question is obvious. Great graphics, fun videos and interactive elements do very well on social media. You can drive home the purpose of your brand with the right marketing tool, but you need to offer great visuals or some other value to keep customers watching your social channels.
You have so much you can offer through content, as well. Articles, white papers, how-to guides, quizzes, interviews, and more. This is the type of content that gets customers back to your site, even if they aren’t specifically interested in hiring or buying from you.
The more often they visit, the more they will relate you as one of the leading businesses in your field. You build trust, and you also have the opportunity to remarket your products or services to them. What might have been a dull interest can be stoked into a real fire that convinces a customer to buy again and again, just by being continually reintroduced to the item.
There are a few avenues that you can take to improve the products that you sell. Fun and exciting ways to pull in new customers is to partner with other artists or brands to create limited-run collections that customers have to jump on or miss out on. This helps local artists in your area, and it also means getting their fans to your business.
Listening is also key, particularly if you offer a tech product or software. Have multiple ways for customers to review and offer suggestions. If the software is new, make it easy for them to report issues they come across so that they can get a better product, and you can improve.
The same does apply to services. Listen to what your customers need. Work to improve the services you currently offer, but as you expand, you will want to look into adding services that complement the ones you already have in your roster. This way, you can add value by addressing additional services your customers need. They will already trust you and will naturally wish to extend services down the line.
There are many ways that you can improve loyalty, beyond just adding value to your content, product, or services. Offer members-only discounts, members-only content, birthday discounts, and more. This can easily be done with the right data management tools, as they make it possible to offer this personalization without having dedicated team members working to build this loyalty manually.
Following trends is another great way to add value to your customers. Though traditional institutions and those that touch on nostalgia do well, they are still keeping up with the times.
Trends don’t just apply to marketing and viral tactics. They also apply to tools and to UIs. It can even apply to services. The subscription box, for example, is a very popular trend that many businesses aren’t just basing their model around but are working on expanding into. This trend has greatly been encouraged by lockdowns, yes, but they are an excellent way to add value and increase the number of consistent incomes to your brand.
- Laws and Regulation
It isn’t just consumers that change and fluctuate. Laws and regulations also come and go depending on the party in charge. They get updated, new laws come into play that changes the entire game – and all that is just within your own country. If you operate elsewhere, even just by offering international shipping, then you need to have a smart strategy in place to deal with it. Adhering to regulations is non-negotiable, yes, but it does play a part in customer value.
Think of it like maintaining the status quo. If you slip up here, you will devalue your business to your customer.
Maintaining Maximum Cost Efficiency
So far in this guide, we have talked about improving the efficiency and talents of you and your team, as well as how you can improve your customer retention. The last pillar that you need to master to see real growth in your business is cost. Maintaining maximum efficiency means working more efficiently and spending more efficiently.
Done right you can cut down on your overhead costs and start building up essential reserves for when you have a rainy-day fund, are looking to add a new service or even expand. You can use some of the money for your personal life – that is your right as the owner – but by keeping at least 50% of the additional profits for future business development you can keep doors and opportunities open.
- Improve Your Systems
An integrated system is the best tool to improve cost efficiency. Admin tasks and human employees do not mix well. It takes a lot of time to go through simple tasks manually – and seconds for a computer to do it. The only issue is that the computer can only handle those tasks if it is within the system. If you have multiple tools, but those tools cannot communicate together automatically, then you will still need to manually input information.
That is why an integrated solution is so important. When multiple systems can work together, you can automate many admin tasks. Draw up online reports, set steps to take if certain conditions are met, and more.
- Think Circular with Your Supply Chain
Buy waste and save. Sell your waste and save. Try to not think of your supply chain as resource, processing, product, waste. Try to think circularly, because it is here where the real cost savings (and revenue) can be found.
- Reduce Running Costs
Other methods, like using less electricity, cutting down on office space and allowing your employees to work remotely, or even going paperless, are also all options available to you. Explore what you can do and get those overhead costs down so that your business has room to grow.