Every successful dish starts out as a trusted recipe, and as long as the recipe is followed, the dish is successful each and every time. It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the amount of money lost through small business failures during the last five years. In 2009, the Kauffman Foundation estimated the start-up cost of a small business at $30,000, while the US Small Business Association estimated the start-up cost of a home based micro business at $1,000 to $5,000. In 2013, there was an estimated 28 million small businesses in the United States. Assuming a one to one ratio of successful and failed small business, it is easy to see that US entrepreneurs loose an enormous amount of money to failed small businesses. If there was a recipe for a successful small business, the ingredients would include outstanding customer service, strategic partner selections, strong processes and effective marketing and monitoring.
- Outstanding customer service: Business owners, especially small business owners, must be mindful that customers have the right of choice and a wide range of options from which to choose. As such, outstanding customer service must be both a defining principle and a clearly defined goal. Satisfied customers are your best referral and advertising tools.
- Strategic partner selections: No one succeeds alone, the relationships we form are critical to our success. Whether business partners, team members, referral sources or key vendors small business owners need to be deliberate and strategic about these relationships. All of these relationships have the potential to affect customer service and profits.
- Strong Processes: A good business process cuts across many, if not, all areas of business operation. Therefore, it creates efficiency, lowers costs and improves customer service. Business operations are impacted by (i) people, (ii) technology and, (iii) processes; with processes working as the glue that holds the people involved and the technology applied, together.
- Effective marketing: Understanding the difference between being a business owner and a technician is critical to the success of small businesses. A business owner’s time is better spent working on the business than in the business. Even so, most small business owners cannot afford to give up all technical responsibilities. A workable solution is for small business owners to set aside no less than 30 percent of their time to work on marketing and monitoring. Marketing can impact current and future product and service offerings, it requires interaction with existing and would-be customers, improve customer retention and loyalty and add to profits. Monitoring is equally important as there is no other way by which to measure business goals and make timely adjustments which can result in minimizing losses in customers and profits.