Growing your business into what you envisioned can be one of the most challenging things during your entrepreneurial journey. You have to be ready to give your ALL or nothing. As an entrepreneur, business owner and, manager much MORE is required from you. You have to put in additional hours than if you were just a regular employee in order to see your business leave baby stages and grow into maturity. Some businesses never reach the maturity stage – they fail along the way. You do not want to be in this category. If I had all the answers I would tell you, but, it is hard and different strategies may offer varied results. You might be affecting your business’ ability to gain traction if you are guilty of any of these FIVE mistakes below.
1. Lack of clarity
Where do you want to see your business in the next 6 months to three (3) years? Do you have a business plan? What is your game-changer? How do you intend to gain clients and build momentum? Every business, whether it’s online or offline (physical) should have a clearly defined growth strategy. Know why you are into business – identify your niche market – who you are selling to. Where do they live? What are their income brackets? Who are your competitors? What will differentiate your business? Why should people choose you over business B? As an entrepreneur, one of your biggest struggles will be how to sell the value and vision for your business. What do you want out of this? Are you hoping to solve a problem or only make a profit? When you can clearly define your business existence and understand your dream, then you will be able to apply it to grow your business quickly.It is tedious and you may not always be motivated to keep pushing when the going gets tough. However, I guarantee you, that having a business plan (whether it’s 10 or 30 pages) will help you to gain clarity and remain one step ahead.
2. You’re Inconsistent
Lack of consistency reduces your ability to build a relationship with your customers. If you do not have clarity then it will be much more difficult to be consistent in your practices. Have finite hours of operation and maintain them. If you advertise your opening hours as 7 am – 3 pm; ensure that you are open and ready to serve the public by at least 6:50 a.m. Do not let the customers wait on you. The human beings tolerance level is low. Consistency in quality: If you want to gain and retain loyal clients in the long-run – provide a consistent quality good and/or service. Your unique selling point (the thing that sets you apart from the competition) should offer the same level of satisfaction across the board (other things constant – marginal utility theory) every time they acquire something from your business they will feel the same satisfaction. Any sense of inconsistency tends to turn off the consumer. Consumers have infinite tastes and preferences which can change anytime. The moment their taste changes, it will cost you much more to regain their loyalty. Brand consistency: After a few years of operating your customers should be able to identify your brand from your marketing activities – your logo, tagline, your colours and your overall ethos. Your business affiliation and social responsibility practices should align. Your brand should align with everything that you do. If you are a boutique store – you sponsor queen pageants to help boost your brand visibility. You cannot be a boutique and sponsoring go green campaigns or minimalist living. It is contradictory.
3. Poor Customer Service
There is a popular saying that people may not remember what you said but will remember how you made them feel. I certainly cannot explain the value of customer service and how it is the number one (1) determinant of your business success. Some businesses have a competitive advantage over others simply because they exceed the customers’ expectations EVERY single time. They go above and beyond – do the unimaginable and get in touch with their customers’ personal side. Once you ignite this in someone – they will remain loyal and always remember that feeling.By having poor customer relationship – you are hurting your business growth since people will never get that feeling to return if the first time was not pleasant. Customers can certainly make or break your business reputation. No matter how skilled you are or the high-quality product you offer, it is your relationship with customers that will determine your growth. You may be doing well financially but, do you have the strategy to sustain it. Your customers need you as much as you need them. But the risk is higher as a business owner since you have invested your time, capital and resources into a business with the aim of gaining a huge return. People like to feel connected to things and resonate with experiences – they ask questions or even prefer word-of-mouth reference over online testimonials. If you do an analysis of your business will you be proud? Have you considered how your customers feel about your service? Which leads me to my next point.
4. Your turn-around time is slow
If your business has poor customer service there is a high possibility that your turn-around time is quite slow. Do you deliver on time as promised? How quickly do you respond to your clients? Be it via email, over the phone or in person, minutes, hours, or days? If you can be prompt with email responses and phone calls, your customers will remember you for it. One of the key things that also affect your customer relationship and thus business is the length of time you take to solve their problem. Remember that they came to you and are expecting quick results. It can be demanding but having a defined plan will certainly improve your brand, reputation and grow your client base. If you are marketed as delivering within 24 hours or 48 hours, please stick to it. Be consistent – again each of the five (5) practices are interconnected. For example, I know a very talented seamstress who has poor time management. She could never deliver as promised. Whether it is for an adjustment or outfit – I had to wait weeks. She has neither a defined turn-around nor estimated delivery time. I sometimes give her wrong dates and I still end up waiting. I cannot depend on her for an outfit unless I put in my request months in advance which is frustrating. Do you know what I did? I found another talented seamstress (the competition) who is consistent, reliable, has excellent customer service and delivers on time as promised. Customers do not wait on you – they move on just like I did. These may seem like little things but I guarantee you, with increase competition and in a perfectly competitive market where new firms are entering daily – you have to stand-out.
I always say it is the little things that matter. Once you can be faithful in them – you will be when bigger opportunities come your way. – Merlinda Francois
5. You have a high attrition rate
Attrition rate is basically the loss of employees over time. The number of employees who leave a company during a given time. This is calculated by dividing the number of people who left in a given year by the number of available positions in the company in that same period. Have you ever visited a business and every time you visit you meet a new employee? People like familiar faces – faces they can connect with. Every time I visit a particular electrical and hardware store, I look forward to this one customer service representative who is always happy and smiling. She serves willingly and has a warm demeanor. I visit there with the hopes that she will assist me and not leave. If your business hires new people often, then you are losing time and resources invested in the hiring process and then losing it when the person leaves. Say for example – for every new hire, a two-week training is done, you have to pay the employee whilst on training then spend time so he/she can become familiar with the business’ operation. Try to hire persons you know are willing to stay with you for at least 1- 5 years, they learn along the way and can improve your business. Staying organized can be quite difficult but you have to invest in your business for it to grow. It needs food – the onus is on you to find out what works best for you then fine tune it – and move on from there. If you do not have a strategy to stay on top of things – I highly recommend that you start now. If your business is not in the correct position to do so, then start small.
What were your BIGGEST lessons from this article? Leave a comment below.