Episode 47 – 10 Questions Local Small Business Owners Need to Ask as they Head into the New Year
Make This the Year of More Sales & Profits!
In today’s episode: We discuss the 10 Questions every small business owner needs to ask themselves. Each year you should pause and ask these questions to evaluate your business and if you are on track. Don’t forget to grab the Free workbook .
Show Notes from the Episode: Listen to the show for the full content
Episode 47 – 10 Questions Local Small Business Owners Need to Ask as they Head into the New Year
The Local Small Business Coach Podcast
Make This the Year of More Sales & Profits!
Today we are going to discuss…..10 Questions Local Small Business Owners Need to Ask as they Head into the New Year
Before I dive into today’s topic, I want to make sure that no matter when you listen to this episode, these 10 questions are great for you to ask at any time.
Most folks listen to a show days, months and even years after they go live. So I always try and make sure that the information I go over will work for you and your business no matter when you listen. And with that, let’s dive in!
Today we will be going over – 10 Questions Local Small Business Owners Need to Ask as they Head into the New Year
I’m going to guess that you want tons of Success in the Coming Year? Whether you have just opened your doors for business or you have been in business for many years, it is critical that you are always evaluating your business.
A critical mistake many business owners make, is they live in the moment. They are so caught up in what is happening today or this week. Like we have discussed prior, working “on” their business vs working “in” their business.
Now is the time to step back and ask some questions to peel back your business and get a snapshot of your current business and identify areas that will help you make big leaps this coming year.
By doing so, you will identify areas that might not be strong and have opportunities. So in no particular order, let’s get the party started.
Who is your target customer? What are their needs?
None of us would have a business if we didn’t have a customer or client to purchase our services or products. While our ego would like to think that everyone could use our services, not all can or will use you.
It is critical that you know who your target customer is. For example, you don’t go to the local ice cream shop looking for pizza. Nor would you go to your hair stylist for a toothache.
if you are a plumber your target customer will be folks that have plumbing issue. But there are other folks needing a plumber that might not have a plumbing issue. For example, maybe they are doing a bathroom remodel. You would target these two groups differently.
Bottom line is, you don’t want to spend your resources targeting customers that just will not buy your products or services. For example, say you specialize in garage organization. Don’t target neighborhoods with only carports. You don’t want to spend your time, money on resources on folks that have no intention of buying from you.
Once you know who your target customer is, you need to understand their needs. Why are they seeking you out and how can you meet those needs? What are they needing from your business? From your employees?
These customers / clients have a specific need from you. Maybe it is a specific product or service. Are you providing what they need? Too often we provide services that we think they need vs investigating what they are actually looking for. Are you making this mistake?
How will you get more customers in the future?
As I’ve mentioned in the past, there are only three ways to increase your sales: Increase your customers, increase your dollar average or increase their frequency. Let’s take a closer look at gaining more customers. First you will need to discover where your customers are going today? Who are they shopping? Who are they using?
How can you get them to give you and your business a shot? What is keeping them away today? What types of marketing are you going to need? How can you reach them?
If you are a season business, are there key times of the year that are better than others? Do you do 50% – 75% of your business during the summer (landscapers for example) or maybe have a high business during holidays (like a flower shop).
Bottom line, you will want a gameplan to put in motion to increase your customer count. What steps will you take? How will you measure it?
What is your marketing plan? What have you learned in the past?
Just because you open your doors or hang your sign it doesn’t mean that your customers or clients will find you. It is critical that you have a marketing plan.
Please don’t make the common mistake of thinking of marketing as just newspaper ads or flyers. In today’s world, marketing is so much more!
By the way, even those of you that are part of a franchise! You are a local business. Don’t expect a national brand to target your customer!
Marketing is… Your branding, social media, your online presence, websites, print, decals on cars, word of mouth & so much more! So which ones will you leverage? How will you use them?
Bottom line is…Your Marketing is how your message gets out to your clients. So have a plan!
How can you find more time to work “on” your business vs “in” your business?
If you spend 100% of your time working “in” your business, you just own your job. Real businesses owners spend a good amount of time working “on” their business. I’ve been a broken record on this.
It is critical that you are finding ways to work “on” your business! The good news is, by using the free eBook / workbook that I’ll have in the shownotes, and doing the exercises in it, you will be doing just that.
I get it. There isn’t enough time in the day to get all the things done you need to never mind carving out even more time to work “on” the business. Let’s start with the understanding that you don’t have a choice if you want to succeed. From there we can find ways to streamline your business. To delegate. Find help. Find wasted time.
The key is to look at where you are wasting time today. Maybe it is your drive? Or having to go back and forth to Home Depot for parts? Maybe it is because you are understaffed or you have a poorly trained staff? Wasted time is there, you just need to find it!
Bottom line… You work hard. Now let’s work smarter!
How are you differentiating your business / product from your competition?
So, why is Starbucks more successful than the average coffee shop? Why is Nordstrom’s considered the high end clothing store? Why do people pick Coke over Pepsi? Why do you pick the products or companies you do? Why do you go out of your way to use one business over another?
There is a reason people the companies and products they do. Just like there is a reason that they will pick your business. The questions becomes, what are you doing to stand out from the Competition?
Think about it, in any given community there are like 4-7 pizza places, 8 landscapers, 10 dentists & 6 nail salons. All within a 10 mile radius. How does a business stand out with so much competition?
Now, think about your business, so what are you doing to have your small business stand out? Is it superior service? Great prices? Maybe you have carved out a niche in something very few folks do or offer?
At the end of the day it is critical that you and your team know exactly what makes you stand out over your competition. Focus on what is going to make your community choose your small business over the others?
What you doing to consistently develop your business knowledge and skills?
If you look at the top CEOs and Entrepreneurs, what do they have in common? They know that no matter how good they are or how good they get, they are constantly developing their business knowledge and skills.
The challenge most folks have in taking these critical steps to growth, goes back to our earlier question of having the time. The problem is, you have to make the time. However, it might not be as hard as you think. With so much available in mobile options, how about listening to business podcasts, oh yea, you are doing that now! Or maybe listen to audiobooks? I personally have over 200 books that I’ve downloaded on Audible.com through the years.
Online training courses are another great option. Most are designed to let you take them at your own pace. All of these options are great because you can just stop and stop them as you drive or take lunch breaks. Take advantage of your drive time, this along can add up to an hour or two a day of self-development. Are you alone in your brick and mortar at any time? Then take advantage of any short down times you can find or use your headphones.
After your morning shower, take 15 minutes to read or study. I’ve been doing this the past year and you will be surprised at how you can knock out a book in just 5 – 10 minutes a day. Remember, It all adds up!
So what do you do to increase your knowledge & skills?
What are you doing to be a strong leader in your business?
Are you a leader? Or do you just manage your business? Do you know the difference?
Remember, you manage tasks, you lead people. Leaders have a vision, share the vision and aspire to make a difference in their business, with their customers, in their community and with their teams.
In your mind you might feel you are a leader but what would others say?
The best place to start when looking at leadership is to revisit past leaders / managers in your life.
Think back to the one person you worked for that if you never saw them again you would be happy? You hated your time with them. What qualities did they have? What made you hate working with them? Maybe they were abusive or a liar or maybe lazy or even a terrible listener.
Now think of the one person you would work for in a heartbeat. What did you admire about them? What did others admire? Maybe they supported their team, or put customers first and set a great example? I bet they weren’t afraid to make a decision, yet involved the team as much as they could.
What would your team or community say about you? What type of leader would they say you were?
How are you growing and developing the best team?
While some of you are one person operations, many of you will have a team. But even one person operations will often hire temp help.
I cannot emphasize how critical your team is to your small business. They are typically the ones that have the most “face” time with your customers!
Did you know that the most profitable businesses have solid, well trained, empowered employees? Smart and savvy business owners understand that happy, well trained employees are loyal and will bust their butt for your customers and for them.
They understand that investing in their people is critical. By paying good wages and developing their skills, they are creating a strong team. By having a strong team, this frees up the leader to work “on” their business vs “in” like we discussed earlier. Focus on what you are doing to develop and grow your team!
What are you doing to put strong operating processes in place?
Without strong operational processes in place, you are causing a chain reaction that is seriously impacting your business. You are losing money. And probably lots of it!
The #1 area is in time. When a business has poor processes in place more time is spent reinventing the wheel each time. Employees don’t have clear direction. Time is lost and time is money!
You like money right? I bet you would love to have more time too!
Each and every thing you do in your businesses should have a process. What is a process? Basically a way for you and your team to do the same thing over and over the same way. Some even call them standard operating procedures or maybe best practices.
Think about your services, I would bet that 50% – 75% require the same process over and over. For example, you should have a process for how you bill your clients. You should have a process on how you get materials. How you order. How your team accomplishes tasks? Fast food places are great at putting in processes so that their mainly teenage teams can follow them.
Large companies spend thousands and millions of dollars to put processes in place because they know they will get a 3-4 times return on their money due to streamlining and saving payroll and time wasted. We’ve talked about this. Have you identified the processes, the best practices you will put in place?
Do you have a business plan / strategy in place for the next 1 – 5 years?
If you wake up each day doing the same thing you did yesterday, then you will get tomorrow what you got today. You would be amazed at how many business owners have no plan beyond the current week. Are you one of them? Not after today!
Having a plan of where you want to go is important to getting there quickly and efficiently. It is no different than getting in your car in California and saying you want to drive to New York yet you never create a plan. Will you get there? Possibly, but you sure will roam the country learning where not to go! Even worse, what if you end up lost in Tennessee yet have no idea where you are?
You need to know where you want to take your business. You want to start with the end in mind and develop the plan, the roadmap to get there. Just like that trip to NY, you want to get there quickly. Sure you might take in the sights but you at least have a plan of attack!
The key to driving your business to new heights is to constantly be engaged in tweaking and putting plans and processes in place. Top business owners will use a variation of these questions to create a gameplan for their business.
When was the last time you took the time to review these areas?
Don’t you think it is time you put yours together if you haven’t already?
Get Your FREE eBook / Workbook!
If you would like a workbook you can use to dive in deeper into these questions plus peel them back more to understand the how, who, when, were, why. Then head to the shownotes at localsmallbusinesscoach.com/episode47
Download the free ebook / workbook … 10 Questions Local Small Business Owners Need to Ask … You will walk through each of these questions and discover where your business is today and what you can put together to grow over the coming year.
And with that, we will wrap up this episode. I realize being a local small business owner can be a lonely gig at times. But you don’t have to do it alone. Just know, I’m always here for you.
By the way, If you like what we are taking about, then make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode, if you love the podcast and what we are talking about, then please leave a 5 star review so other local small business owners know this is a podcast that they can’t miss.
And don’t forget to visit the website at LocalSmallBusinessCoach.com to leave your question for me to possibly answer on the podcast in the future. You can leave it via the Speakpipe button or just shoot me an email.
Meanwhile, I wish you the best in your business and remember: Great Customer Service, coupled with Great business practices will set you on the path to Great Profits!
Bye for now…..
Have a Question You Want Asked on Air? Shoot Me Your Question
Podcast Website: LocalSmallBusinessCoach.com
Leave your Message on the website with the SpeakPipe Button or just email me at Tammy@LocalSmallBusinessCoach.com
Our Training Materials for Local Small Business Owners: TrainingforLocalSmallBusinessOwners.com
Starting a Local Small Business Website: StartALocalSmallBusiness.com
My Recommended Bookkeeping Program for Local Small Business Owners: Freshbooks Link
Why? Helps you invoice quicker and more importantly, get paid quicker. Let’s you know when your clients have opened the email and they even help send reminders. Clients / customers can pay right from their phone or computer. Give it a Try: Freshbooks
**Freshbooks is an affiliate link. This costs you nothing. I only recommend due to how much folks have loved it. I am paid a small commission but trust me. Even I use it. Try it for free for 30 days and see if you don’t love it too!
Today's episode, as well as all of our episodes, is brought to you by trainingforlocalsmallbusinessowners.com. Where we provide free tips, tools and resources for your local small business. So whether you are just starting out or you've been in business for a while and want to learn more ways to increase your profit, boost your sales, improve your processes and develop stronger teams then head on over once again to trainingforlocalsmallbusinessowners.com..
And if you are Thinking of Starting a Local Small business, over at StartALocalSmallBusiness.com we have lots of free tools and resources to help you get your local small business started. Plus, we now have a more in-depth course to Help Get you going. It has 12 modules, 50 mini videos and 13 downloadable tools a person can use to start their local small business. You can find the link once again at StartALocalSmallBusiness.com. I also have set up a special discount code for listeners of the podcast. At checkout, just add the code PODCAST to save 25%.
See you on the next episode!
Two Great Books to Help You With Your Small Business:
Highly Recommend all Local Small Business Owners Read the eMyth by Micheal Gerber. You will learn some critical things about running your business.
The second book is one I wrote based off a popular example I always use when folks are trying to understand their role as a leader with their people. Check it out.
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