This is the second blog of my 'business tips from the garden shed' series. In the first blog, we looked at sales and marketing. We are now visiting the ‘back garden’ – operations. This is the place where we spend the most time.
Making sure your day-to-day operations are running smoothly is absolutely vital. While it’s easy to get caught up in other areas of your business, you need to make sure you build a strong foundation first – and keep that foundation maintained.
Never avoid giving bad news to clients, such as notifying them of delays, mistakes or failures. They will appreciate your honesty and will more likely be tolerant of your situation. Ignorance is rarely bliss.
Prune and tune
Make sure your business processes aren’t overgrown and wasteful. Develop lean processes to optimise your time and bottom-line performance.
Prioritise relationships over profit and keep your loyal customers happy. Be prepared to take the occasional knock on the chin (and in the wallet) even when know you are right in disagreements with clients. The effort to gain new clients is much harder, so playing the long game is worth it.
Be reliable and responsive
Do what you say you will, when you say you will. Set realistic and honest expectations. Over-achievement makes you a hero; under-achievement can quickly turn you into a disappointing villain.
Don’t be greedy
Even when a client is desperate, don’t be greedy in your pricing or take advantage. If you want to build long-term client relationships and sustain a positive reputation, you need to play fair. “Do as you be done by”, as my mother always said!
Review your business structure
Spend your time wisely; outsource tasks that are not core to your products and services, such as IT, bookkeeping and administration tasks. Even if you have the skills to undertake those tasks, you need to ask yourself if that is the best use of your time when you are meant to be building your business.
Trust the experts
Don’t undertake tasks beyond your knowledge and skill set. Amateur efforts will be noticed by clients. Similarly, avoid the temptation to use a friend that is keen help you out in their spare time. No matter how well intended, avoid the free or cheap ‘mates rates’ deals as they are rarely the caliber you need and can potentially sour a friendship. More often than not, you will end up having to get the work redone by a professional, which can cost more than if you got it done right the first time! Using skilled professional resources is money well spent, removing chores and relieving stress.
In the final blog in this series we’ll explore the vegetable garden – the administration side of your business.
As always, please get in touch if you need help applying these principles to your business. We can meet down the garden shed for a brew and a chat!
NCBIZ provides specialist support and coaching to help start-ups and businesses across Christchurch and Canterbury establish a solid foundation, overcome challenges and perform at their best.