If you want to run a successful and sustainable business, you need to create regular practices that support your operations and growth. But you also need to cut out any practices that don’t serve your business. To separate good business practices from bad business practices, here are some lists and expert tips to consider.
Good Business Practices
Refer Back to Your Business Plan Regularly
You probably already know that it’s important to create a business plan. But once you’ve actually made it, you shouldn’t just set it down and forget about it.
Kim Le Pham, CEO of popular fashion brand Morning Lavender said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “Having a solid business plan was key to getting our business started. In our business plan, we identified our key demographic and brand message. Using this as our basis, we made business decisions that specifically aligned with our brand and business plan. This helped us keep focused on our targets and goals.”
Set Benchmarks for Success
If you want to continue to grow and thrive, you need to constantly have goals and strategies for moving forward. Identify key areas where you could improve and then set specific achievements and deadlines to stay on track.
Of course, you’ll also need to have systems in place for tracking your goals and performance. Monitor things like website traffic, sales, subscribers, and of course, finances.
Senthil Kumaran, operations manager for Invesis Technologies writes, “In order to assess the performance of your business, there are many critical questions that need to be answered. Is the business running smoothly? Is it successful, or is it failing? What part of the operations set-up act as bottlenecks, and what parts are acting as growth drivers? The answers to all these questions lie in regular financial monitoring of the business. Without adequate profits, regular flow of cash, and strong sales numbers, no business can be successful. That is why the business owner or senior management should ask for regular reports from the organization’s accountants in all these areas.”
Adapt to Changing Customer Behavior
If you’re going to stay in business for years, you’re going to have to adapt to keep your customers engaged. So it’s important to keep an eye on changing communication strategies and be agile enough to adapt.
Le Pham says, “The retail business is constantly evolving and it’s important to keep up with industry changes. But it’s also important to keep up with customer needs and understand their behavior. It’s great to have a wonderful product but we need to know how to engage our customers.”
Adapt to New Trends and Innovations
Along those same lines, you might also notice new technology emerging that could help your business in some way — from hardware tools to social media platforms. If you keep an eye on these tools and are able to adapt quickly, you can take advantage of opportunities before your competition even has a chance to consider them.
Lead by Example
When it comes to leading a team of people, it can be tempting to micromanage. But the best way to ensure that people are working up to your standards is to show them, rather than tell them. Create working habits and stick to them so your team can clearly see what is expected of them.
Bad Business Practices
Try to Do Everything Yourself
It’s common for business owners to try and take on too much. But there are people out there who can help you if you actually trust them to do the work.
Le Pham adds, “I think it’s easy to get caught up in trying to do everything yourself. It’s true – you may know your business the best but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are the best at what needs to be done. If you want to see your business grow, you need to build a solid team with a variety of skills that can contribute to the overall growth of the company.”
Mix Business and Personal Resources
Today, it’s more possible than ever to start a business from home or work on the go with your smartphone and laptop. However, the blurred lines between business and personal can make things tricky. For example, working from home without a dedicated office space can lead to irregular working hours. And using your personal phone without a business line or app could lead to unprofessional interactions with partners or clients. So just make sure that you take your business seriously and invest in dedicated tools when it makes sense to do so.
Grow Without a Plan
Growing quickly isn’t a must for every business. A recent study by the Kauffman Foundation and Inc. Magazine found that two thirds of the companies in the magazine’s annual list of fastest growing companies had either gone out of business, downsized or sold within five to eight years. So it’s important that you have an actual plan for how and when you want to grow, rather than just saying yes to any and every opportunity that comes your way.
Stick to the Plan No Matter What
However, you shouldn’t be so rigid with your plan that you’re unable to adapt to new opportunities when they really make sense. Evaluate your plan regularly, at least once a year, to make sure you still see yourself on the same track or make adjustments when necessary.
Wait for Perfection
Perfectionism is a major problem for a lot of entrepreneurs. It’s great to want things done correctly, but it’s not great to hold back progress in your business just because you’re scared something isn’t perfect. Instead, set realistic standards and deadlines.
Quit at the First sign of Failure
Failure is a natural part of running a business. You’re going to fail at specific projects and potentially even with your business as a whole. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again.
Le Pham says, “Most business ideas fail and that’s ok. Understanding why they failed and how they failed is more important and will bring you more success in your next business venture.”
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