Cindy is the COO of Beauty Bar Medispa.
According to statistics published in 2019 by the Small Business Administration (SBA), about 20% of business startups fail in the first year. About half succumb to business failure within five years. By year 10, only about 33% survive.
That is quite an alarming statistic. For those starting a new business, purchasing an existing business or re-evaluating their current business, building a strong foundation is essential to achieve success. Without a strong foundation, your business is more likely to end up in chaos. Anything built on rock will have a much better chance of thriving than if it were built on sand.
Having 20-plus years of experience being a top-level executive in varied businesses, I understand the importance of a strong foundation upon which all future business efforts are built. In my current career, I had the challenge of working with an existing business being sold to a new owner, which meant working with both an existing business plan and a new business plan. Within a two-year span, our growth tripled. This article will discuss ten key elements that have proven to be not only necessary but critical for success.
1. Execute an effective business plan knowing that you will more than likely need to allow for adjustments as you go. Focus more on listening than on what you already know or what you have done in the past. Your previous experience and knowledge will come into play after you listen, learn and evaluate.
2. Build a client-focused content strategy. Knowing and understanding your client base will help you to know where to focus your efforts. This can be done in the form of the following.
• Employee feedback. This will provide you with a broader perspective for understanding your client, as your employees will more than likely be privy to client satisfaction issues on different levels, such as payment, product development, service, etc.
• Market research surveys. These surveys will allow you to understand your potential client’s wants and needs.
• Client surveys. Surveys from clients will guide you in knowing what your clients are looking for, especially when creating content, and will enlighten you to the understanding that your wants and needs may not be their wants and needs.
3. Make a user-friendly website. Create a website that is easy to navigate and has clear and condensed information, along with photos and video.
4. Build SEO. Build your search engine optimization and evaluate it quarterly.
• Find the right keywords.
• Focus on your unique offerings.
• Don’t overstuff your site with keywords.
• Build links to your site.
• Publish high-quality content.
5. Optimize your social media. Focus on high-impact activities in regard to your social media marketing.
• Know your audience.
• Prioritize quality over quantity.
• Be consistent.
• Use eye-catching visuals and videos, reels, etc.
• Create shareable content and conversational posts that provoke comments.
6. Consider community. Incorporate your community into your business plan, such as a give-back program to a local charity, as well as community involvement.
7. Use employee satisfaction surveys. This is a step that is non-negotiable when building your foundation. In most cases, your employees will have the most direct impact on your clients. Get feedback from employees on company culture and find out what values are most important to them. Ask them what areas within your company they feel need improvement, and ask them what they feel are the company’s strengths. Incorporate this information when creating a solid business plan.
8. Grant exposure to employees. Provide your employees exposure to all departments within your company. See to it that all employees have walked a day in other co-workers’ shoes. Doing so will provide them with a greater understanding and appreciation for how the business operates, as well as foster collaboration and unity.
In some instances, you may want to consider cross-training. My belief and experience in cross-training is that it is essential to running a business efficiently. However, you need to proceed with caution, as some employees feel that it is nothing more than extra work being piled up on them or consider it a threat that their position may be taken away.
9. Put people in the right roles. Transition employees to roles where they are better suited. An employee may be hired for one role, but you might later find that their forte is in another department. I call this “finding their shine.” When you can move an employee into a role that is better suited to their personality and abilities, they will shine!
This will cause a positive ripple effect within your organization. Repositioning an employee into a role better suited for them creates a business culture that truly cares about its employees’ happiness while also increasing productivity and employee retention.
10. Develop your pricing based on knowing your value. Most of us question our pricing, wondering if we have priced too high or too low. Once you have done your market research, be confident when you talk about your pricing with your clients and your employees. Many people are willing to pay more when they can see the value. Very seldom does a client want to pay less to receive less. By properly managing client expectations, the referral business will soon follow!
Similar to the foundation of a home needing to be strong in order to support its structure, the same is true for business. Always start with a solid foundation to ensure your business’ future stability.
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