Since the year is nearly two-thirds in the books, you might think it’s too late to make changes that will positively impact 2018 results. However, it's never too late to adopt a best practice, tweak a process, or add a new strategy that delivers some type of result. Here are seven changes for your small business that can help achieve improvements in customer engagement, payment security, and profitability:
1. Analyze and Alter Your Cash Flow
Realize immediate gains by looking at your current cash flow and conducting an analysis that shows when and how money comes and goes out of the business. It's this cash flow that determines how well you maintain your own financial obligations. Plus, it provides the ability to make investments and purchases at a much faster rate, providing a competitive advantage.
This analysis shows you where to make changes, including more effectively managing when you receive payments from clients to ensure they pay on time. Also, it may reveal places where you can shift due dates on bills. A professional accountant can help you conduct this cash flow analysis and provide sound advice.
2. Expand Sales Channels
In looking to boost sales, especially as opportunities associated with the holidays are drawing closer, it may be time to consider adding other sales channels to your mix. Even with just a few months left in the year, just one additional channel could increase sales compared to sticking with your traditional methods.
If you are an online retailer, you may want to consider the option of social selling on sites like Facebook and Instagram. Or, you could open a pop-up shop at upcoming holiday markets in various cities. Also, there are online marketplaces and auction sites that provide further options for sales channels.
3. Automate Business Processes
Your time is definitely worth money, so it pays to add free or low-cost automation technology to take some of those tasks off your hands. That frees you up to focus on other aspects of your business where you could be making a difference in terms of sales, marketing, and strategy. Besides the extra time automation provides, you'll also find that it saves money by reducing labor, supplies, and equipment costs.
Thanks to today's most innovative minds, there are more companies with automation solutions for all business processes. That includes everything from automated online invoicing and payments to automated scheduling and time tracking. Thanks to chatbots, even certain customer support, marketing, and sales tasks can be automated.
Pick one or two areas where you feel comfortable adding some automation to your business and see what it can accomplish for you in a few months. You can always add more in 2019 to leverage greater results.
4. Simplify Your Schedule
As humans, we already have a tendency to complicate things. And, despite our love of technology, which we believe simplifies things, we only try to add more to our daily routines. Instead, we often end up doing more things badly and accomplishing less. This change to your business is more of a mindset change rather than a physical task. However, if you know that some physical clutter could be removed from your office and desk, add that to this change.
Unstuff your day by selecting three to four priorities instead of taking on the whole list. Remove multitasking and focus on each of those priorities solely until each is accomplished. Don't book in numerous meetings or calls. Lastly, leave room for some quiet time where you can rest your mind and body. That means switching off the electronic devices that leave your mind in a state of chaos. You'll find a higher level of mental and physical energy, higher quality results, and greater productivity.
5. Reduce Spending
Design a self-imposed financial austerity program that gets you to cut down on spending over the course of the last part of 2018 to see just how much you can save. There are many ways to approach leaner expenses.
First, look at what you are buying to determine what's not necessary like trips to the coffee shop or more new business clothes. Second, audit your vendors and see if they are willing to reduce pricing or change terms; if not, start researching low-cost alternatives. Third, see if you can transfer credit card debt to a no-interest card or refinance existing business debt. Finally, consider letting more team members work remotely so you can downsize the office space and related expenses.
6. Raise Your Prices
This change gets you to address one of a small business owner's biggest fears, especially if you are a service-based business. Freelance writers or marketing consultants are prime examples of small business owners that opt to stick with rates from ten years ago over broaching the terrifying topic of increasing prices. There is a fear that customers will leave as soon as the rates go up.
However, it's worth taking the risk because they may stay with you because they understand your value is still worth paying for compared to the competition. This change is also related to a shift in your mindset. You need to know your worth and believe in it. Each year that goes by, you've added skills, knowledge, and expertise that is worth more. When you do broach the topic of raising prices, you can leverage these value-added reasons as justification (should they question the increase).
7. Add a Skill
Speaking of increasing your worth, you can make a change to your skill set before the year is over that could positively impact numerous aspects of your business. For example, if you focus on creating better business pitches or practice your public speaking by joining an organization like Toastmasters, you can compile more leads. Take an online course to expand marketing and sales skills, including those related to writing, graphic design, or marketing tools and technology, and you could convert more of those leads into revenue.
If you are concerned about the time it takes to add a skill, look no farther than online sites like Udemy, Teachable, and others listed from Consumer Affairs. You can complete these in your free time from anywhere in the world.
The Bottom Line on Business Changes
Too often, we look at the idea of change as being something dramatic and sizable. In reality, these seven changes involve small adjustments. In return, they pay substantial dividends rather quickly. That way, you will realize that it is good to see effective change as an incremental action.