Running a business is tough, and too often business owners get wrapped up in the day-to-day activities that they forget about the important long term tasks they need to be doing. Mistakes in managing and operating a business can greatly threaten the organization’s long-term visibility. Do not let your business get into a downward pattern. Here are a few of the top mistakes that business owners are guilty of from what we see.
1) Not Considering Employees the most Important Customers
The new saying going around is “If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself.” – J.W. Marriott. In a world with flex hours, paid vacations and open office concepts, the research shows that this cannot be more true. Turnover and poor service can sink your business. Making sure that employees are happy is the only way to counter this.
2) Not Making Customer Service a Priority
After your employees are taken care of, customer service is the next item on the list. Your customers are what maintain your cash-flow. Customers and clients need to treated with respect have their questions, concerns and problems dealt with in a timely manner. Making sure your employees buy into your vision of services will usually make customer service take care of itself... with the occasional intervention.
3) Not backing up your Information
In our modern technological society, almost everything is digitized (and if you are still running with pen and paper that may be a different issue all together). What would happen if you lose all your business’ information? Backing up should be a top priority and should be done on a regular basis. Your Company Quality System should outline your backup schedule.
4) Copying the Competition
It is important to think two - five steps ahead. Always keep a close eye on your competition. What are they doing? What are they changing? Do not blindly copy them. If you are simply copying what your competition does, you will always be 6 months to 1 year behind them.
5) Not Writing Down Goals
The business needs to have goals set in place. They should be written down and assigned accountability to someone to achieve the goal. Achievements and struggles should be brought in your daily/weekly staff meetings to help manage the growth towards the goal.
6) Not Budgeting
It’s extremely important for business' to operate having a budget plan in place, yet very few business owners do it. Why? Often in a small - medium business, the owners know their bank account balance and have internal parameters of where they want to see the figures stay at. However, if you start a project without a budget, often the proper planning stages are not taken, and as a result, extras and changes always seem to cost more then they were supposed too. Hence why most projects run over in value. Make a plan and a budget to make sure your next project is not stopped in its tracks.
7) Not Always Looking for ways to Improve
A ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System stipulates an entire section on continual improvement. This is because every profit seeking business (or most) usually wants to create continued growth. Organizations should always be looking for new ways to improve their business both internally and externally. Continuous improvements is how the company develops and enhances services and products. Whether it’s a service to a customer or upgrading a internal procedure, every minor improvement is a step in the right direction.
Get the conversations going and bring up some of these points at your next shareholder meeting, staff meeting or toolbox talk. Try to identify which of these points your business does well, and which ones you may need to improve on. The rest should take care of itself.