From starting Advantage Payroll Services with only two employees in the basement of an office building to being named an Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company in America, I’d say my business has come a very long way.
As a new business owner, there were many things I had to learn by way trial and error. It is inevitable in the business world to fall down a few times – but you must always pick yourself back up. After 20 years of running this company, I have learned some of the key attributes to running a successful small business.
Here are four tips on how to keep your small business successful:
1. Customer service: Customer service is way more important than you think. Don’t try to just get by on the bare minimum. It is the way you build relationships with your customers that is the most important. Any time a customer interacts with someone in your business, that’s customer service. Customers should be greeted as if they are a long-time friend. It is also important for you to treat your client like an equal. Meeting customers’ needs and expectations should be your biggest priority.
At Advantage, we pride ourselves on excellent customer service. All of our reps were carefully and thoroughly vetted during our hiring process. We put a lot of time and consideration into who we allow to be the primary contact for our clients. The amount of positive feedback we receive from clients about our customer service reps is something we’re very proud of. Not only have our customer service reps received amazing testimonials, but staff in other departments have as well. It is vital to build your team by hiring people who provide great customer service to ensure your business remains successful and clients continue to use and refer your services.
2. Marketing: It is vital that you communicate your brand and product offerings clearly to your target market. You’ll want to take advantage of the marketing opportunities that social media offers, as well as launch a website to stay competitive. Once your brand is out there you can concentrate on building an arsenal of material to support your sales efforts.
When I was in the first few years of expanding this company we lacked the resources to produce our own marketing. As I got more familiar with the industry, I came to realize that having a sound in-house Marketing department is a must for a company our size. The team that I have now is very creative and trained in all aspects of marketing. They handle the websites, print marketing, handle event planning and assist with our sales team efforts.
3. Focus on the Now While Simultaneously Planning for The Future: You have to know where you will be at the end of the week, year and where you hope to be in years to come. You must have a solid business plan laid out for finances and quotas. Also, it’s important to deal with problems immediately as they occur but investigating the cause of that issue is just important to ensure that they don’t happen again.
Starting this business on my own wasn’t easy- I was constantly setting goals for myself and planning for what was going to come. I never brushed an issue under the rug but made sure to solve each individual bump that my business encountered. Try setting a goal whether it be a percentage, revenue, or quota that you believe is beyond your reach for the month. You may end up surprising yourself.
4. Network: Network, network, network. This is one of the most important things you can do as a small business. Networking is a way of keeping in touch with people who have knowledge in other areas. These people always have something to offer you; whether it is knowledge in a similar field or if they could potentially help your business grow. Networking can be done in person, over the phone or through the internet. It is important that you reach out to others at least once a week to maintain and build relationships that can only benefit your business.
At Advantage, we hold quarterly networking events. Although this may seem a little costly to some small business owners, it is entirely worth it. This gives our employees and partners a chance to connect outside of work, building relationships while having fun.