Four tips for small business success

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By: Courtney Mickens at The Jim Moran Institute Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

At any stage in business, one question consistently comes to mind: How do we get to the next level? With all the work you put into perfecting your product or service, daily operations and the never-ending hunt for financial capital, it may be hard for some leaders to know where to begin. Don’t fret. Your vision of success for your business is achievable. Here are some practices that can help:

Who Are Your Customers, Really? – If you answer that question with phrases like “Everyone who…” or “Everyone with…” you may be sadly mistaken. I’m talking about your current customers. What do you know about your customers’ demographics, lifestyle and how they engage with you? Information is one of the most sought-after resources in the world (as proven by the rising number of data breaches in 2019 alone). Every touch point with your customer is an opportunity to learn about them. Take advantage of all the data you have on your current customers and create profiles you can leverage to target, engage and acquire new customers.

Why Do They Choose You? – Customers have many reasons for choosing your company over others. Do you know those reasons? Don’t think too hard. They are usually very simple, and often deal with what customers are trying to accomplish or avoid. These could be based on performance, customization, brand or convenience. You need to know why your customers value you. That’s what you are truly selling. Try asking customers directly or gathering feedback from the team members who have direct contact with them.

What’s Happening in Your World? – How do you keep up with changes in the world around you? New local and federal laws, technology, construction, economic development efforts and the global marketplace can have a fantastic or completely devastating impact on your business. It is important to diversify your information flow. Consider following top entrepreneurship and industry organizations (including your competitors), attending local and international leadership trainings and networking frequently with other entrepreneurs to learn and pivot your strategies accordingly.

What’s Happening In-House? – Are you lacking efficiency in your processes? Do you have employees who are out of line with your company’s goals? Here’s the truth: no matter how awesome your process is, it will always need tweaking as the business matures and grows. Meet with your team of leaders and employees to assess your true strengths and weaknesses. Try engaging with your company as a new customer. You’d be surprised how these two simple tasks can help improve operations and prepare you for growth. (Fair warning: this process can be brutally revealing.)

Our founder, automotive legend Jim Moran, said, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it.” True growth is something you have to be ready to achieve and to sustain. It requires planning, research and testing, just like your products and services do. These practices will help you hone-in on your customers’ and company’s needs and reach the next level!

Courtney Mickens is the associate director of Palm Beach County operations at The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, which is part of the College of Business at Florida State University. The Jim Moran Institute offers no-cost programs for small business owners and nonprofit leaders in South Florida. For more information please visit jimmoraninstitute.fsu.edu.