Small business owners must wear a lot of hats—especially at the beginning. You’ll need to understand accounting to support payroll and taxes. You’ll need to be familiar with Human Resources to handle customer service requests and employee benefits. And, of course, you’ll need to know how to build and sell your product with a careful eye on production, marketing, and sales.
You can improve the operations of your small business with a mixture of delegation, reliable tools, and know-how. Take back your to-do list and optimize your business for maximum performance.
Follow this guide to discover some of the best techniques and resources for small business owners.
- Use a social media management tool like Buffer to schedule your posts in advance. This way, your day-to-day social media use will mostly center around responding to comments and questions.
- Budget for the seasonality of your business. Instead of dividing your budget evenly across the 12 months, allocate more funds to the months where you drive the most sales (e.g., around the holidays). This will allow you to maintain a healthy ROI—even if your business has some seasonality.
- If you plan to run your marketing efforts internally, hire a consultant to review your strategy, marketing channels, and budget. Their fresh eyes might be able to point out flaws in your plan and make recommendations for more effective promotional efforts.
- Set up Google Analytics and other tracking tools for your website and marketing channels. These resources will help you to see which online promotional efforts are working and which ones aren’t driving customers despite the cost.
- Make sure your brick-and-mortar location can easily be found on relevant local search platforms like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google My Business. Keep your photos and information up-to-date and respond to questions and reviews quickly.
- Look for ways to centralize and streamline your bookkeeping so you don’t need multiple software for similar tasks. Sunrise Bookkeeping is a great place to start—and it’s ideal for small businesses that need an accounting resource.
- Find an accountant who specializes in helping small businesses. They’ll be able to give you a competitive monthly rate and can assist you with issues related to taxes, payroll, and profitability.
- If you don’t have an accounting background, take a finance course. Udemy offers several courses for small business owners, or you can sign up for classes at your local community college. You need to understand the numbers related to your business and make strategic decisions based on them.
- Track the gross margin of your products and see which ones are the most profitable. Selling more high-profit items will grow your business faster and give you more flexibility with discounts and marketing.
- If you have a seasonal business or experience fluctuating sales throughout the year, compare your sales year-over-year. A retailer typically will compare sales on Black Friday for 2 years rather than comparing November sales to October.
- Company response times are critical in customer service. The longer your customers wait, the angrier they get. Make sure your system allows you to respond quickly to issues so you can solve them and save the relationship.
- Let customers contact you on their terms. Not everyone wants to reach out via social media or a contact form. Let people call, email, or chat with your brand to get their questions answered.
- Train your staff to manage angry customers. Your employees should know how to resolve issues and should be empowered to “make good” on the situation (by offering a refund, store credit, etc.).
- Develop response templates for responding to angry customers on social media. These can be adjusted based on the situation, but having something already prepared can help you to respond quickly and professionally to any problem.
- Invest in customer service tools to address problems quickly and respond to questions. This can also help you track the number of disgruntled customers each month compared to the total percent of people who buy from you.
- Create an onboarding process that guides employees through everything they need to know about working for your company. This way, your new employees won’t miss important information or get confused about what’s expected of them.
- Your business is never too small to have an employee handbook. Use online templates to develop different sections and educate new hires about your business. Review this handbook annually to see what needs to be updated.
- Similarly, your business is never too small to have a firing process. Consider retaining a lawyer to review your firing policies and check with them about any problem employees you have. This due diligence can prevent a lawsuit.
- Look for a professional mediator to help with employee disputes. This person can help you to solve personal issues objectively, especially if an employee has a problem with you.
- Set goals to remove bias in your hiring process. If you want to promote equity and inclusion, then you’ll need to start the second your candidates walk through the door.
These tips and tools aren’t going to fix your business overnight. They are, however, resources you can use to improve different departments and drive your small business forward. Use them to generate ideas for growing your brand and increasing your sales.