Getting useful business tips these days can help you differentiate you and your company from your competitors. The issue is that there are thousands of business experts and advisors out there itching to give you a piece of advice. Advice which derived from their blue sky thinking but at cost, in most cases a large cost. Now some of the advice will be relevant and you may be able incorporate some of it into your business however I have found before that its not as easy as it seems.
- They are not always easy to understand thus implementation is difficult.
- Implementation can also be expensive
- Is the information relevant to me and my business
What ever happened to keeping things simple, not so much blue sky thinking but more like grounded understanding where all relevant parties understand how the advice can be useful to the organisation. Advice should be relatively (I say that with a cautious tone) simple to implement and it should be relevant. Lets get on with it as time is money…
Tip 1: Pay Early
No seriously, pay any invoices that you have received as soon as you can. “How does this actually benefit my business?” Lets say you own a printing company and one customer pays you within 2 days and the second a month or so later. Which one will you help first? The one which helps to pay the bills or the one which you have to chase to get your money from. Not only do you have to wait but chasing actually costs you money if you take your hourly rate into consideration. But how does this affect you if you were the customer? Simple, the best customer service the supplier has to offer. This particular customer service in the business world could also include a very healthy discount, now I have your attention. “How does early payment help them?”, I bet you have heard the saying “Time is money”, which is Economically speaking very accurate. Money is worth more now than it will be in the future due to interest and inflation. In the example above the printing company will be able to negotiate a better deal from their suppliers as with money in the bank better economies of scale can be achieved. Let’s not forget the obvious, no money no deal. I cannot stress the importance of this tip, no matter what size of organisation or business you operate in, try and implement this step for a few weeks. Once implemented, compare the level of customer service and business relationship benefits with suppliers if compared to holding onto the money for a little while longer. I know this works as I worked in a team of 6 dealing with over 38000 invoices a year, it was difficult but by paying the undisputed invoices as early as possible made more time to focus on the incorrect invoices. Quick payment also makes you a priority customer which in times of need is in itself priceless.
Tip 2: What are they up to?
Its time to get into character Sherlock Holmes. Find out about your competitors, what exactly do they do? what type of products or service do they provide? where are they located? how much do they charge? what makes them stand out? If you want, become a mystery shopper and ask questions as if you were going to purchase from them. Now the analytical bit, compare your findings with your business. This honestly does not take long at all. The result may Be that you either have to up your game or you have something that they don’t. Now what? this is were many businesses fizzle out and carry on as normal not using the resulting information. Oh no, not you my friend. If you found out that you were short on a few elements, find out how much it would cost to bring whatever it is to your business. If it’s expensive find another way to differentiate yourself, if not analyse to see if it has any actual place in your business. If you have however found that you have something they don’t, elaborate on it and make it one of your stand out features. It is also important to remember that your competitors can and are your allies as together you have market buying power. Let me explain, if your suppliers made 5000 of the products which you both purchase and it costs them £1-00 to make and they sell it for £2-00, they make a profit of £5,000-00 (cost 5000 x £1-00, sale 5000 x £2-00, profit sale less cost = £5,000-00. Now lets say that there is only you who buys the product which in turn reduces the output by the supplier by half so 2500 products, it does not mean the production cost will remain the same. 9 times out of 10, the cost will increase due to economies of scale. Suddenly you are paying £2-50 for the product which make the profit margin slightly slimmer. My point is competition is healthy for the industry but for you to get ahead, know what others are doing and do it better.
Tip 3: Be nice
Sounds simple doesn’t it. This can be extremely difficult though. Example: You ordered a specialist product which takes weeks to be delivered and your trusty supplier has made an error by ordering the wrong product, easy mistake. The neanderthal you has takes it out on the branch manager whom can only utter an apology in your direction. Unfortunately nothing can be done about the error both parties have made. “What? I did not make any mistakes, they did!”, well that’s not exactly true happy bunny. The rant that you had has impacted on the professional relationship between you and the supplier. To explain let me add an additional scenario: You have asked for an urgent delivery from that same supplier however so has your competitor, who has not had a rant at anyone. Who do you think will get the first delivery? Not you unfortunately, I think you catch my drift. A friendly approach to business is not a sign of weakness, it shows that you are able to handle yourself in a calm and approachable manner in the relationship which in turn benefits both parties.
Tip 4: Set the standard
Relatively simple really, ensure you know what or who your target market is and set the standard of the products or services in relation to that market. Let me define my statement. If your target market is high end, your product or service has to have a standard of quality which demands the slightly higher price tag. If not, you will find that you will only sell a few polished turds before you get found out. Thus ensure that you are able to provide the market with the quality that they expect.
Tip 5: Its a modern society
Online presence has become key however you do not have to spend a fortune to produce a half decent website. If you are keen to make your own website I would highly recommend WordPress as you can learn along the way and your website can still look very professional. Even if you are getting a professional to design the site for you, I would still go with the WordPress platform as it is simple enough for you learn how to use it in order to have more control. You have the ability to log in and create new blog posts and pages as you please, it is honestly that easy. My recommendation would be to not only get online but ensure that the website is easy to use, packed with tons of useful information and ensure that it looks good. Why? Well the site may be the first impression your prospective customer will get, so make that impression last with a decent website. It is also an opportunity to show your creative side so express yourself. Websites not only act as an advertising platform but to many act as an informational guide where you can in stuck visitors to look at specific bits of information which may be relevant to their query. You will also spend less time explaining to people what you do, they cam see it for themselves. This will make actual enquiries more prospective.
The choice is ultimately yours however you have already taken a step in the right direction by reading up on what will help you get ahead of your competitors.