Business-as-usual often means focusing on things like growing sales or expanding products and services. But a secret weapon for a stronger, more competitive business may reside within the business itself. Consider the following four areas to develop strength and improve processes that lead to industry advantages:
Take a look at the team. Identify strengths and weaknesses. Use the strengths for greatest advantage to the company. Understand that the star salesperson may not handle the paperwork adequately. So take steps to fill in the gaps. If there is an underperforming employee or contractor that is undermining sales or service, evaluate the consequences. Avoid letting one or more employees drag down the business. Increase training or replace team members as necessary.
- Internal systems
A robust accounting system and/or point of sale system provides a wealth of information about business health. But helpful features often go unused. Take advantage of the reporting options available to consistently track various aspects of the business. As companies grow, additional systems or upgrades are helpful. Better inventory systems, a good customer relationship management (CRM) system, a project management system, or more specialized programs provide data and make the business run more efficiently. When considering a new system or upgrade, make sure that the functionality of the accounting system expands to meet growing data demands of mature businesses. And, integrating the accounting system with the company’s other systems is one way to control costs and improve margins while increasing the flexibility of reporting and customizable options.
- Skill sets
As businesses grow or market conditions change, different skill sets drive the business. No business owner is an expert at all the necessary skills. Some of the skills needed early on include strategy, client service, delivery of the service or product, and sales and marketing. Growing and mature businesses require leadership, financial acumen, negotiating, hiring, and supervising. Make a list of skills that are important to the current and future growth of the company, and evaluate the current strength of each. Address lower performing employees or missing skill sets with additional training or outside consultation to avoid gaps that negatively affect the company’s success.
- Client and prospect interactions
It matters how companies present themselves to the world, specifically clients and prospects. Businesses are judged every day by how well they help, or don’t help, customers get what they need. Consider the obvious interactions, such as a website, storefront, staff, and presence at industry events or meetings. Small interactions also add up and make a difference in the perception of a company. Think about who answers the phone – a live person or an auto attendant, voice mail greetings, email messages and signatures, proposals, invoices, and customer appreciation. Look for ways to make improvements. It may seem like small steps, but the small steps add up to what customers and prospects think about a company.
Paying attention to internal company details makes a difference in the external world of customers, prospects and competitors. Commit to tackling one area at a time, and strengthen the business’ competitive advantage.