2024 gives us a bonus – February 29th! In honor of a Leap Year, I wanted to give you a few tools that you can use to in your business to Leap Ahead. Since an extra 24 hours may not be enough to make big changes, let’s talk about smaller changes you can make throughout the year that cumulatively will have a big impact.
1. Be Customer Focused
Build a relationship with your customers. Get to know their buying patterns and preferences. Then make it as easy as possible to buy from you. While a generic request for feedback will give you some information, make an effort for a personalized email or call to gather feedback. Ask open-ended questions if possible. What do they value most about your product or service? How else can you relieve a pain point for them?
Make sure your customers know how much you appreciate them. This can be done through a loyalty program, special deals or products for members only, or a simple thank you.
2. Pay Attention to Your Numbers
You cannot adequately manage your business by checking the balance in your bank account. Savvy business owners make informed decisions. Look at your financial statements regularly. Meet with your bookkeeper or accountant monthly to review the numbers. They are experts at spotting trends and possible concerns early, allowing you time to make corrections.
Stay on top of your expenses and taxes. Price shop for insurance, phones, internet, and suppliers. Watch credit card and bank fees. If people are working remotely, scale down your office space.
Not all expenses call for scrimping. Service levels matter. If you are missing calls an upgraded phone system will probably pay for itself in increased sales. Offering better benefits should give you better employees and less turnover. Reliable internet and web presence is a must. Get the best deal that meets your needs.
3. Leverage Technology
There are many productivity tools that can keep you and your team on the same page and on track. Check forums for your industry to get recommendations. None of us are ever far from our phones, so use texting or other apps to communicate small things. Larger issues deserve an email, phone call, or even a meeting. Do set boundaries on when a response is required, especially outside of normal working hours.
Use your calendar! Set it up so that all tasks and meetings have an automatic reminder. If something was on your calendar and did not get done, reschedule it.
Project management apps are a great way for each person to know what is happening. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the app up to date in real time, not just once a week.
4. Invest in Your Team
Most employees want to do a good job; however, they need your help. Be clear about performance expectations by agreeing to KPI’s and then track them. Training is essential. Even if someone has done the work at another company, take the time to teach them how to do it your way.
I frequently hear managers complain that they have to redo things, yet they don’t have time to train their employees on how to do it correctly. Make time to do it with the employee, document as you go, and then be available to answer questions. When mistakes happen, and they will, help correct them and then explore ways to prevent them in the future. If you truly cannot trust your team and are not willing to train them properly, I suggest you let them all go, do everything yourself and live with less revenue. There is no point in paying others to do the work if you are just going to redo it.
Create a positive work environment. Show your appreciation for your team. Simply saying “Thank you” and “Great Job!” are very effective ways to build a culture of success.
5. Invest in Yourself
Take a good look at your strengths and weaknesses. Get comfortable delegating tasks that someone else can do, even if they do it differently than you would do it. That will free up your time for the things that only you can and should be doing.
Get training for yourself. If you are not a confident manager, take a class or read a book on management skills. The same is true for sales, finances, or marketing.
Stay up to date on industry trends and customer tastes and behaviors. Join a peer group of other business owners and leaders that serve as a resource for each other.
Finally, practice self-care. Take care of your health, get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, and exercise. Surround yourself with positive people and make family time special for everyone. Taking time for a walk or a hobby is not a luxury. It gives you time to rest and refocus.
Let’s make 2024 a Leap Year for yourself, your team, and your business!
Author: Sandy Merritt, Business Coach in Louisville, KY