Being in business in 2015 is different than it was 20 years ago, even 10 or 5 years ago. Working as a bookkeeper since I left school in 1988 I have seen business grow and develop and accounting systems change so much. 2015 is an exciting time for Business, but it is also a time where if you don’t keep up with changes then you will struggle to compete in your industry and to be profitable.
This week I want to talk to you about some things that I see going on in businesses. Things that I see as holding the business owner back. There are so many business owners refusing to learn, refusing to grow as a business owner, because they have done it this way for years and it has worked, so why change things. Let me tell you, if you don’t change with times then you eventually work yourself into bankruptcy.
1. Continue to Learn
As a business owner you must be willing to learn, to grow and develop your knowledge so that you can keep up with what is happening in the business world. And I’m not just talking, technology like the latest iPad or VoIP system. I’m talking, business methods, advertising and marketing methods, accounting methods, employment methods.
I highly suggest to you that you read, read as much as you can and if you don’t have time to read, then listen. I subscribe to what is known as the Automobile University, where you listen to books and podcasts while driving your car to wherever you have to go. I use a program called Audible to listen to my books, it can be downloaded to any device and it is a really easy to use program.
I have developed for you a list of books that I recommend you read, some of these books I have read a few times, others just the once, but I learnt from all of them. I have the audio as well as the physical book for some. I find this handy as when I listen to a book I often want to go and read certain bits again so that it sinks in, by having the physical book I am able to go to the parts I want to remember and can go back to those parts time and time again.
I also listen to podcasts, many different podcasts on different subjects. I have learnt so much about business from listening to other people. And read blogs on many different subjects.
2. Have a good Accounting Program
Many people go into business believing that their bookkeeping is not very important, but it is one of the most important parts of running a successful business.
When I started my bookkeeping business in 1998, most small businesses just took their box of receipts to their accountant and got their tax return completed. Very few of them tracked their Profit or their Assets and Liabilities, except at tax time. With the introduction to GST this all changed.
Now in 2015 it is very important to keep on top of your Profit & Loss and your Assets and Liabilities. The best way to do this is to have a good accounting program. There are quite a few options, talk to your business associates and Accountant to work out what accounting program would suit you. I have also written a few blogs about choosing accounting programs.
3. Have a Mentor
Having a Mentor or a Business Coach is essential. The definition of a mentoring program is – a mutually beneficial relationship, which involves a more experienced person helping a less experienced person to achieve their goals.
Having a Mentor means that you can have someone to discuss your goals for your business, your dreams. Talk about your passion with them and they will guide you, hold you accountable and keep you on track.
Imagine what happens now, you have an idea, you think its going to really work well, you start to implement it and you come across an issue, then another issue and after a while it gets put in the ‘to hard basket’ and eventually you just don’t get around to finishing it and you find another idea to work on. This pattern keeps repeating itself and you don’t get anywhere.
Well having a Business Mentor will stop your ideas from being put in the ‘to hard basket’. You can share your idea with the Mentor, have a big discussion around it, work out how to implement the idea and if you come across any issues, you can talk to your Mentor about them and work through them. All the while feeling supported and motivated.
A Business Mentor can also hold you accountable. A lot of times in business we have ideas and then just get too busy to do anything with them. I have worked with a lot of business owners over the years, keeping them accountable and hence seeing them grow and develop at a pace that they never would have dreamed of.
In the next few weeks I will be launching my Mentoring Program. I will keep you all up to date with this as it happens.
4. Have good Referral Sources
I am part of a business network group called BNI. I can’t recommend highly enough for every small business to be part of some type of networking group. You meet other business owners, and connect with other like-minded people all working towards improving themselves and their businesses.
Most business owners talk about how word of mouth is their best form of new referrals, imagine having a group of business colleagues all working with you to help grow your business through word of mouth.
For me being part of a networking group is not only about the word of mouth referrals, but its about being able to talk to other business owners about how my business is going, what issues I am having and also celebrating the wins and achievements as well. Often our own families don’t have a business so they don’t understand what its like to make budget or win a large contract.
And the knowledge that you get from talking to different business owners in different industries is amazing. All of a sudden if you have an issue with your Website, your mate the Website Designer in your networking group can give you some tips. Or the Business Coach can keep you on track and focused. It is amazing, like you have your own little group of Business Consultants that you can ring whenever you need to help you with your issues.
5. A Website
In today’s business world, if you don’t have a website then you will find it difficult to compete with your competitors. Websites are where most of our customers go first to ‘check us out’. They have already ‘prejudged’ us from our website, before they even contact us.
But Websites can also be used to sell our products on, to post testimonials from our customers, to connect with our community. Blogs are a great way to connect with your community, to share your knowledge and to help your clients. Podcasts and Videos are also really important parts of the modern day website.
Imagine having a website that has a few videos of your work place, what you do and how great the quality is, as well as you talking and connecting with people on this video. People watching this video will connect to you and like what they see and seek you out to get to know you and to purchase your awesome products.
I highly recommend that you all use your website to its full advantage. Don’t just have a dormant, non-changing website, change the pictures, have videos, have a blog… connect to your community.
6. Social Media
If you don’t have some type of Social Media presence for your business then you need to rectify this right now. Social Media, wether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ it doesn’t matter, but what I do suggest is that you pick one that works for your industry.
So if you have a Florist then Pinterest and Instagram will work awesome as people will be able to see your photos of your products, they will be able to admire your work and really connect with you.
If you were a Chef and had a Restaurant, imagine posting videos of you working then your clients being able to see what you do and how you do it and then the end products. You could post pictures on Instagram and Pinterest, show the video on Facebook and YouTube.
People love this type of thing. I have seen a Mechanics business boom because of his Facebook posts and connecting to people on Facebook. I have seen a Green Grocer boom because he used Facebook to sell his specials each week. A Holistic Health practitioner have to create more meditation classes because of responses to her posts on Facebook.
I cannot tell you enough how you must get onto social media and connect with your community.
Now I want you to spend time making sure that you are doing all these things in your business. You will be surprise and how much they help you.
Leave me a comment below about how you have implemented at least one of these ideas and how it has worked for you.