The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) estimates that roughly half of employees work in small businesses. However, they also estimate that five of 10 small businesses will close within five years of opening. With such a huge impact on U.S. employment and 50-50 odds of surviving, small businesses need to work extra hard at using strategies to improve.
Use any technology that you can to market yourself and get the word out. The more technology you are able to buy to streamline your operations, the more business you'll be able to do and the more people you'll be able to reach in marketing.
Put what money you have toward a website and getting involved in social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. This is standard for large firms, so to compete and look professional, you'll need to offer online options and communications for your clients.
Invest in computers and software that will help your small business run more efficiently. Since you don't have as much money as large businesses for technology repair and updates, get the best machines and software you can so the technology stays current.
Offer flexible schedules, health insurance and other benefits and good training. Settle disputes quickly and fairly. The idea is to make up for what you may not be able to pay in hourly wages so your employees are not tempted to quit and work for a larger company.
As you do what you can to help your employees, don't forget to make your expectations clear--put everything in writing from the get-go. Since you probably don't have many employees, task management is essential in sales and service. Make sure the standards you set for employees are reasonable, however; as a small business, you will not have the manpower to do the work of a larger corporation, so you need to assess success based on the size of your business.
When you run a small business, there often is little time to analyze what you are doing. But because every sale is important in a small business, taking time for analysis can mean the difference between just surviving and actually profiting. Look at whether you are up to date on technology, sales product options, legal requirements, how much money is being spent on each division and on equipment, and which marketing strategies you can use.
Since you may not have the money to have a professional analysis done, rely on your customer base to tell you what is bad or terrific about your small business. Let customers give feedback right at the register and on your website, and train your employees to ask customers what they'd like to see offered or done.