officebroker.com presents: Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Small Business Booming
We took advice from Simon Jones, Commercial Director of officebroker.com, to produce our Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Small Business Booming.
1) Renegotiate all costs
Costs and overheads are unavoidable. But they don’t have to make such a big dent in your profits. Simon Jones, Commercial Director for officebroker.com, says: “Go through all your outgoings and analyse each and every one. Where you can make a saving, contact each of your suppliers and re-negotiate a better rate.”
The more in-depth you make your list, the more chance you have of reducing costs and improving your profits. In ‘Weathering the Storm’, an article by smallbusiness.co.uk, Anthony Karibian, CEO of XLN Telecom, said: “Don’t forget about the secondary areas where cuts can be made. Target wastage in office supplies and invest in energy saving initiatives – from energy saving light bulbs, to making sure the insulation in your premises is up to date.”
As tedious as it may be, try not to cut corners. Simon adds: “It can be a long-winded task, but it will be worth it in the end.”
2) Cut unnecessary expenditure ΓÇô but not at the cost of your customer
While you’re working on renegotiating each of your expenditures, make sure you take a moment to analyse their worth. Ask yourself: do you really need it? Would your business suffer without it? In fact, there lies the crux of the issue – make sure whatever cuts you make will not affect your customer, or your overall performance.
“Everyone wants to cut costs” says Simon, “But you have to be clever about it, and make sure that whatever you cut out does not affect your customer. Damaging relations with your customer base will lead to your business taking a backward step and a slower overall recovery.”
Anthony Karibian backs this up further, stating: “Explore ways to reduce those (costs) that don’t affect overall efficiency of the business and its ability to win sales.”
Office space is a prime example. For businesses in a fixed-period lease, consider the possibility of moving into a serviced office for a more flexible arrangement. You can take on as many workstations as you need, from one upwards – which is perfect for smaller businesses. Most serviced offices come with on-site IT support, maintenance, security and regular office facilities which also help to cut down on expensive call-out fees when something goes wrong. Here at officebroker.com we specialise in offering a consultative service for businesses looking for serviced offices, so contact us to find out what we can do to help you.
Also, ask yourself if it’s absolutely necessary to have a physical presence – or could your business run just as effectively with a virtual office solution? Speak to us about our virtual offices, which allow you to keep the appearance of an office whilst cutting back your costs to a minimum. You’ll get a business address, mail handing service, all calls answered, and discounted meeting rooms – and that’s just for starters. Speak to one of our experts to find out more.
3) Look for areas of potential improvement
Take stock of your business and try to identify areas of weakness. Critically and objectively analyse the way you present yourself to the customer – how strong is your brand? Do you have an effective support system? Do you allow enough time to make new business?
It’s worth spending time researching your competitors to find out what they’re doing that you could be doing. Even the odd under-cover phone call could help you along the way.
Even better, encourage your customers to tell you where your weaknesses are. An article by businesszone.co.uk, ‘How to beat the recession: 10 things to do in the next 10 days’, puts suggestions forward by business expert Robert Craven, of The Director’s Centre. He suggests that businesses should run a customer survey – “right now” – as a way of finding out where your business drops short, but also to stop customers leaving: ΓÇ£simply talking to all your existing and past customers will generate more business, I assure you.”
4) Marketing – be more creative!
How do you cut costs without upsetting your marketing strategy? Simon says: “Businesses shouldn’t stop marketing. Instead, continue to invest in your customers, be more creative, and find new ways to market yourself without incurring enormous costs along the way.” There are many ways of doing this – perhaps one of the most obvious and cost-effective is by using the internet.
Search engines offer a wealth of advertising, and if you can get it right, you can get it for free. Effective search engine optimization (SEO) means your website will appear on the first page of search engine results – such as Google and Yahoo – when users type in specific keywords that relate to your business. But getting onto that first page can be tricky. It’s worth investing in a little help to make your website ‘search engine friendly’, and seek advice on how to improve your rank.
There are also masses of free guides out there on the internet to help get you up to speed with free or ‘natural’ search engine marketing. Take a look at Matt Cutts’ blog for starters. Matt Cutts joined search engine giant Google in 2000 and has been there ever since, so his blog is an excellent source of knowledge. In addition, try typing in relevant search terms relating to your business and see what sites come up – then take note of other keywords they’re using that you could take advantage of.
Another example of internet marketing is the use of social networking sites, which are fast becoming a free, effective way to market businesses. An article on smallbusiness.co.uk, ‘Supercharge your online sales’, states: “With the phenomenal spread of Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, you now have a massive target audience at no cost.” However, success isn’t necessarily achieved overnight: “The trick is to do it intelligently so it’s not perceived as spam. Create an audience in groups and forums and gradually build your credibility. Then – and only then – hit them with your message.”
5) Go out and get new business
Our last point is by no means the least. Simon stresses that whatever stage of business you’re at, whether you’re just breaking even or you’re enjoying a healthy profit, don’t stop there – especially in today’s current climate.
“Don’t let obsessive cost-cutting stand in the way of maximizing your revenues from your existing customer base or your battle to find new customers.” He adds: “Go out there and get new business – as this is the quickest way to pull through!”
Robert Craven is in agreement. As part of his article ‘How to beat the recession: 10 things to do in the next 10 days‘, he says “Get more leads, say 10%. Go networking, find out about Google Adwords, get up earlier, and talk to people.”
If you’re a small business and you’ve got tips that you’d like to share with us, please get in touch using the comment tool below.