Guide to Increasing Profits For Your Small Business
Here's our guide to help small business owners beat the current economic downturn.
We've put together our small business owners guide of the top 10 things you need to review this year and the people behind the products we recommend you check out to help you.
With a challenging economic climate which is forecast to be with us for some time to come, small business owners should spend the time to review all areas of their business. Not only to dust down your business and marketing plan but get some fundamentals examined and look at areas in your business you may have forgotten about or just haven't looked at for a while.
There are probably expenses in your business that you have on a standing order or direct debit that go out each month. Each month you promise yourself to look at that cost to reduce it but never get around to it. So now is the time to take action!
Here's our top 10 list of things you should look at in your business:
1) Review Your Business Plan
The majority of businesses have one. The majority of businesses put one together to get bank loans or an overdraft facility. But when was the last time you took yours out and looked at how you're achieving and managing your goals?
Times change and unquestionably the economy is in a worse state. Looking at what you wrote before will not only show you where changes may need to occur but will probably prompt you to look at new opportunities or change the way you market and promote your business. If you don't have a business plan yet - get one. Here's a free simple business plan layout you can use.
2) Manage Your Cash Flow with an Accounting System
One of the most critical success factors when running a business is to ensure you manage your cash flow effectively. Many a profitable business has failed through the lack of cash to pay suppliers and staff so now may be a good time to look at what accounting software you are using (or choose something if you are not accounting for your business on a weekly or monthly basis).
There are many accounting systems on the market today, and we recommend Kashflow.
The beauty of this system is it's 100% online, so you don't need to worry about backing anything up. Kashflow is continually being developed and has a great user forum with most new user requests developed for the core product.
Kashflow has gone from strength to strength, and from its integration with PayPal saw massive PR and communication from the payment processor to its users.
3) Get Free listings in The Small Business Directories
Whatever industry you're in you'll need a constant stream of new customers coming into your business and the internet is a powerful tool. Millions of people are online every day searching for your products and services so even if you don't have a website yet you should get your business listed in the main online directories.
There's aren't many online directories that actually produce real traffic and the larger more commonly known ones can cost a lot to be listed. People do search for "business directory" in Google, and those are the ones to get listed in as they are going to drive the most customers to your website.
4) Join Business Forums For Networking & Promotion
Networking is the lifeblood of meeting other small business owners but also to let other business owners know about your products. There are networking groups online, and the principal business forums have thousands of members who interact with each other and help each other out.
They are all free for the basic membership which allows almost full integration with the group. So if you haven't done so already sign up for a free account today and get networking online
4) Get Your Adwords Campaigns Sorted
Many people dip their toes in the water and try Adwords, and many are unsuccessful or waste too much money because of the following:
- The ads don't target the customer correctly (so quality scores and impressions are low).
- The ads go to the home page (rather than a specific landing page so conversions are low).
- The keywords targeted are too narrow (so impressions are low).
- You're new to the industry, so the costs are high.
- Your landing pages don't contain enough relevant information, so ads don't get shown.
There are Adwords experts who can help restore your campaign and boost your revenues. It may be worth exploring the idea of hiring an expert to help you or search online for specialists before you spend any more money.
5) Improve Your SEO
Millions of people are online searching for your products right now, but if you don't have your website set up correctly for the search engines, then you're missing out on a lot of business.
SEO sometimes gets a bad press and seen as perhaps a murky unknown world, as there is a lot of misinformation around the popular forums and it's difficult to know who to believe.
One of the brightest SEO'ers is Aaron Wall who has a long history online and offers a lot of insight on his blog and operates an excellent online community. You can see more of Aarons work on his SeoBook website.
6) Spread The Word To Others
If revenues are stagnant and you need to get sales going again why not contact the people who have previously purchased from you either by email, telephone or face to face.
They may have forgotten your company exists and as they are current customers will have already been through the purchasing process with you and know (and hopefully) love your products.
You can contact them with a range of special offers or new products that you have.
Additionally, why not run a "member get member" campaign. This marketing idea is where you ask your current customers to introduce their friends, family or colleagues to your business and offer both parties an incentive or gift when the new customer purchases from you.
This type of marketing campaign has proven to work well in the past and used extensively by the credit card companies, online wine merchants and Sky TV.
7) Cut Unnecessary Costs From Your Business
We all have monthly direct debits and standing orders in our business for products and services we might not actually require any more or that need trimming. We are mostly good at switching suppliers in our domestic life for telephone, broadband or gas supplier but not in business.
Take a hard look at the costs in you incur and look for better deals for all your business utilities, your web hosting plan, car costs, accountancy and anything else. This process doesn't mean cutting the item from your business but being smarter in how you run your company's financial aspects.
8) Check Your Competitors
If you don't already do so it may be time to have a look to see what your competitors are up to with regards to both what they sell and how they sell it.
If they have a web business, you can check out their news and recruitment pages. The job pages of websites are very interesting for competitor intelligence research because the "about us" section is usually up to date with sales and customer data. Additionally, you can see if they are hiring or not which may provide some insights into their financial stability.
You will also see if they have any special offers or have reduced or increased their prices recently. You should also purchase competitor products from time to time to go through their entire order process and see what happens after your purchase. You'll also get to try the product and understand if you need to improve yours at all.
9) You Don't Need to Go it Alone
Even if your business is developing and you are networking successfully, sometimes you may need the help of others on a one to one basis. Running your business by yourself as a sole trader can sometimes be a lonely experience, and not everything you want to achieve gets done.
You may, therefore, think about having the services of a business mentor or business coach to help you progress faster and focus on those activities that will actually produce the results you want. We recommend you get in touch with Chris Kaday who has run many successful businesses himself and now mentors others.
10) Small Business Trends and Insights
We have been following Anita Campbells's insights together with her fellow writers for ages. Her website and blog are worth book-marking and reading to see what's happening in the world of small business together with trends, tips and techniques that can help you. It's the best small business owners guide there is!