By John Oechsle, President and CEO of Swiftpage
This year, the Small Business Administration (SBA) celebrates small businesses with the theme, “Dream Big, Start Small.” It’s a good reminder that the small things in life –the details and gestures – are what ultimately make a big difference. So it is in the business community. Small business owners may not have the resources of their larger counterparts, but the “small” differences in the manner a company is run or how a customer is served, can go a long way when it comes to building a prosperous business down the road.
National Small Business Week Special Report
Thriving business owners know success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes perseverance and the right attitude. During Small Business Week, celebrate how far you’ve come by embracing the small changes you make now to help build the bigger dream for the future. Here are a few “small” tips every small business can incorporate or build on that are not only simple but are easy to implement on a budget:
- Attitude: If there’s one thing that can make or break a business, it’s customer service. It only takes a few minutes to win over a new customer with responsive service or lose a long-time patron on one poorly handled request. Successful small business owners exude a positive attitude that is seen and felt by customers and staff. Learn to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and see things from another perspective, because attitude is what makes a simple transaction into a long term connection.
- Won’t you be my neighbor?: We’ve all heard and sung the catchy phrase as children, but who knew it could be sound business advice! Fellow small business owners intimately understand your daily struggle the best. Why not rely on an empathetic ear? Working with surrounding businesses to encourage local shopping can get both you and your neighbor through lean times. Look for existing community events to be a part of or work with nearby stores to cross-promote products and services. Such collaborations take little effort to set up but can reap great rewards if done creatively.
- Keep good company: Although most business owners are multi-taskers, doing everything yourself is a sure sign you’re stretching yourself thin and the business could be suffering. Surround yourself with a trusted team –from customer-facing staff to trusted advisors and accountants. No matter how small your team may be, your hiring decisions are a reflection of your business. Keeping good company with advisors that can provide insight into an area you’re not familiar with can make all the difference when you’re on a lean budget. Likewise for the staff that represent your business when you’re not available.
- Be proactive instead of reactive: Oftentimes, the only way a small business owner knows a problem exists is when it’s too late to fix. Whether it be a disgruntled customer who didn’t get an order filled in time or a missed appointment with an important vendor, being reactive usually means you’re already doing damage control. Adding staff or researching technology that can assist with time-consuming admin tasks can free up valuable time to focus on more important matters – like your business. Understanding your needs and getting ahead of the issues before they happen are all proactive steps than can prevent early demise.
- Learn from the past: Starting a business can be daunting especially when unexpected setbacks put you in an unexpected bind. Where was your business last year? Were you celebrating a good season during Small Business Week or were you struggling to make ends meet? The fact is, you made it through another year and the chances are good that you’ve already learned a few things about what worked and what didn’t. Put this new knowledge to use and start setting a plan so that you’re in a better spot to try new ideas without breaking the budget next year.
To gather more useful small business tips, visit Swiftpage on its “Built for Growth” tour at the Small Business Expo which is making its way to various cities across the U.S.: www.thesmallbusinessexpo.com
H. John Oechsle joined Swiftpage in July 2012 and currently serves as president and chief executive officer. John is an advocate for technology and education in Colorado and has been an active contributor to the Colorado Technology Association (CTA). He has been recognized several times for his involvement in the tech industry. Follow at @Swiftpage.