Starting a business is hard work. However, it is safe to say that establishing a successful business can be much harder, as it is both physically and emotionally challenging. Every entrepreneur starts a business with the hope of growing it into a successful and productive one. However, this is easier said than done. To start a business, especially now in the overcrowded startup world, has become quite difficult. To be prosperous, you need to be skilled, committed, persistent and very hardworking. Once you have an established business, you may decide to simply let it run as is or you may opt to find ways to help it achieve even more growth in order to continue to remain stable in the competitive market. I am sure many people would opt for the latter. If you are that person, I have compiled a set of questions below that you need to ask yourself about your business to ensure you stay on top of the game.
1. Are your business goals/plans working?
Every business is established on a set of goals or on a business plan. Once running, many factors can lead to amendment of the business plan to make sure that the business is running smoothly. For a business to be successful, these goals have to be achievable and for them to be achievable you must have a way to measure their success to ascertain if there are working as planned. As a business person, you need to constantly evaluate your business plans and make changes where necessary. However, the first step to ensuring a successful business plan is by making sure the plan meets the principles of a SMART goal setting. Ask yourself, are your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based? If your plan meets these 5 elements, then you have a high chance of achieving great results.
2. Do you have the right team working with you?
Working with a great team can determine the success of your business. Once you have set up a team, it is important to constantly monitor their performance and ensure they are consistently improving with time. There are several ways in which you can ensure your team is constantly growing and improving performance. For instance, through motivational talks, team building activities and short-term training. Each of these can help your team increase productivity. The Small Group Research journal paper "Does Team Building Work?" shows that team building can have a positive impact on your team performance. Don’t forget that monetary rewards such as bonuses, appraisals and promotions also help promote competency among team member and can translate to better performance in general.
3. Who are your competitors?
With the increasing number of startups, paying attention to your existing and upcoming competitors can help you better plan for your business. It was well said by Sun Tzu, a Chinese general and Philosopher, that, “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” The same applies to business, for you to be successful you must understand your competitors and their plans in order for you to survive in the battle field. So, what do you need to watch for in your competitors? One thing to watch for in a competitor is their pricing. If you are selling similar products on the market, it is crucial to know the prices from your competitors as it will guide you in setting your own prices. It is also important to watch their marketing strategies, product features, websites and available offers.
4. How are your business finances?
Poor finance management is one of the leading causes of business failure. As an entrepreneur, it is important to have the right tools and expertise to help you manage your business’ finances which includes setting a budget as well as knowing your: expenses, revenue and profits. Ensure you have a great financial team or hire a consultancy firm to help ensure you are sticking to your projected budget.
5. How can you make your products better?
Competitors are always looking for weak areas in their products or services where they can improve. Don’t be left behind. Consistently analyze your products to see what you can do to make them better and achieve better sales. A good way to learn these weak areas is to ask for customer reviews or by getting ideas from your competitor’s products. For example, you can renew your products packaging or add new features to your services. The idea is staying updated on current trends that meet your customer’s needs.
I hope the tips I have provided above will help you identify areas you can work on in order to improve your business or sustain the success you are currently having. Remember, the earlier you identify a weakness in your brand and work to improve it, the better you can come up with a strategy to save your business and reap great benefits later.
-Anthony, from the Online Growth Systems Team
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21 Year Old Entrepreneur