You should never reach a point at which you can assert that your education is complete. Your greatest defence against uncertainty is continuous learning. Education comes in two flavours, neither of which should be neglected – learning for intellectual edification, and learning to acquire practical competence in some new area. The former category is the most free as you will be following your attention wherever it lands. The latter category, skills development, may also be interest-focussed. But the prerogative in this case is to create a functional understanding of actions that may enhance your life in some regard.
As a small business owner, you will have already acquired a working competency in financial management, marketing and sales, customer service, project management, negotiation, delegation, networking and time management.
When you’re a small business owner, you want to invest your practical learning time in areas that will show a return. Here are a few ideas that can enhance your small business’s performance.
- Take control of your knowledge
Too few small business owners know how to capture, process, and analyse their company data. Taking control of your data means capturing the useful information that comes to your company. Beyond your financials, this means getting to grips with people that enter your sales funnel at any stage. Too many businesses make the mistake of letting potential customers get away by not keeping track of the contact that they have with your business.
- Master mailers and modern marketing
Modern marketing techniques revolve around a golden axis of email marketing, search engine optimisation, paid search advertising, social media presence, and display advertising. For small businesses, the most effective means of advertising online is to set up a mailing list. Have a simple contact form on your website, and send regular monthly emails to those who sign up.
- Get to grips with negotiation
While you will have a great deal of experience in negotiating both with suppliers and customers, you may be falling prey to poor negotiation techniques that get you into contracts that don’t work in your favour and cut into your bottom line. Great negotiation involves being totally aware of your own situation, having as good an idea of your opponent’s position, and knowing how to leverage a few behavioural tricks to get your best offer. For the first half, you may need to rely on your ability to analyse your business position from a financial perspective.
- Organise your business better
There are default positions that people tend to use as a matter of course when it comes to creating a business structure – the top-down hierarchy predominates. But hierarchies can be unnecessarily rigid, and can restrain a business’s growth. Mastering structuring your business means learning about the various ways that you can move information across your business. If you’re looking to keep high-value employees, for instance, you might consider employee share schemes that incentivise your workers to give their best, and to keep going at the company.