By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville
“I need to improve my business. Where do I to start?”
That’s a huge question and the answer differs based on what you are currently doing. In the spirit of the New Year, I have picked five resolutions for you.
I will look closely at my business model. Starting with my Value Propositions (product and service offerings), I will make revisions based on evolving customer desires and/or competitive pressures. Next, I will look at redefining, adding or deleting customer segments. Finally, I will consider my partnerships and make necessary changes. This might involve negotiations, meaning I will learn to be a better negotiator.
I will study last year’s financial statements and look for opportunities to increase revenue and/or decrease expenses. I will prepare budgets or rolling forecasts and compare these to actual results each month, paying particular attention to cash flow. Based on variances, I’ll find ways to improve performance or adjust the budget. I resolve to use financial statements and budgets as tools to improve my business.
I will spend more time working on my business rather than in my business. I will delegate more work to employees or outsource tasks that can be done in a cost-effective manner. I’ll be able to spend more time on business improvement and less time on things that others can do as well or better. This might even improve my life outside of work.
I will put more effort toward sales and marketing. I will attend seminars or classes that can help me become a better sales person. I’ll read and study ways to improve our marketing efforts. Instead of a hit and miss approach, we will target the customer segments most likely to buy our products and services. I will create an outstanding elevator pitch and participate in relevant networking events.
I will commit to providing the very best customer service. We will go beyond satisfyingcustomers to amazing them with the service we provide. This will result in more repeat business and outstanding references and referrals for new business.
Since you are likely doing two or three of these resolutions really well already, you might need to focus on only a couple. And improvement in only one of these areas can result in significant progress toward your goals.
Find a mentor, someone who can help guide you and analyze your business with a fresh, unbiased view. Often business owners wear blinders and miss what’s going on around them. The peripheral vision of an outsider can help. Find someone who will continue to work with you as your business grows and changes.
Ed Rappuhn is a mentor, workshop facilitator, and the past-chair of SCORE Nashville. SCORE mentors guide entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses. Sign up for a free SCORE mentor, find out about our reasonably priced workshops and other services, or volunteer to become a SCORE member at www.scorenashville.org.