The Eight Key Lessons from Successful Small Businesses
1. Know your service, what’s unique about it and what it takes to do it well.
Write it down. Post it where everyone can see it. Communicate it to, and demand it from, everyone who is to be involved. Always and continually create ways of doing it better.
2. Know your customer and what factors are most critical to him/her. Don’t assume.
Ask and find out regularly. Always think in terms of the customer’s perspective. What can we do to make it easier or more enjoyable for them to use our product/service? This is part of everyone’s job.
3. Systematize your operations.
Establish and utilize written operational procedures and continuously measure their effectiveness. Regularly work together with employees to find ways to improve the procedures. Continually measure how well you are satisfying your internal and external customers and then improve the system.
4. Create a team with a collective focus on delivering and improving your service.
Hire people who want to deliver the service and want to be part of the team. All tasks and roles are connected to the service. Be clear about how the service is to be delivered and how the members of the team are to treat one another. Do not accept continuous violation from anyone, especially the owners/managers and those who are seen as role models.
Make sure each person knows why they are doing what they are doing and how their work connects to the service and team as a whole. Everyone should see themselves as making a critical contribution to the company’s success.
5. Respect and develop your people.
Nourish them. Encourage them to live great lives. Train them well and continually. Have regularly scheduled programs for learning. Document what is being learned so that it can be improved and passed on. Establish levels of performance. Help your staff achieve personal mastery—encourage them to be outstanding at what they do and to find fulfillment in work.
For owners and managers: Network. Find others, even competitors, who are doing what you are doing (or similar service) and learn from one another and help each other.
6. Do everything you can to be known for providing your service.
Build on what you do best. Share it with the community. Objectively determine which approaches produce results and establish them as on-going marketing and public service programs. Get everyone, including employees and customers, involved in publicizing your services/products. Build on your success. Create value added partnerships with other businesses which share your customer base.
7. Try to be a one stop shop for your customer.
Don’t give your customers reasons to go elsewhere for a closely related service. Develop and expand your service to an appropriate level of completeness based on what you do best.
8. Use technology to enhance efficiency.
Modern technology is necessary in operations and to connect you to resources.
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