7 Ways to Take Your Small Business to the Next Level

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Many successful small-business owners have at least one thing in common—the ability to see the big picture and envision what their success will look like tomorrow. Here are some of the activities successful small-business owners complete to place their focus on the future and keep moving forward.

Key Takeaways

  • Use the SMART goal-setting to make specific, actionable, achievable, relevant goals within a specific time frame.
  • Focus on making customers happy and asking for feedback from them.
  • Always be learning, whether it's through formal classes, a mentor, or continuous reading about relevant business topics.
  • Learn to delegate tasks that someone else can do, so you can concentrate on growing your business.
  • Keep up with changing technology that may affect your business or help you be more productive.

1. Use Goal-Setting to Push Boundaries

Goal setting can be a great way to clarify your focus, measure progress and track achievements. And for the most successful among us, goals also present an opportunity to push the lines of your comfort zone and take calculated risks.

Creating a plan for this growth in the form of long- and short-term goals, a business plan, or even single targeted tasks can help your business reach new levels of success. In setting goals, it's helpful to think of the acronym "SMART." Goals should be:

  • Specific - Use strong descriptions and action words to lay out what you want to achieve.
  • Measurable - How will you measure your progress? Is there data you can use, such as internet traffic or sales?
  • Achievable - Your goals should be a stretch, but not so far out of reach that there's no way for you to accomplish them.
  • Relevant - Topics like customer leads, profitability, sales, etc. are all relevant goals for a business.
  • Time-Bound - Put a time frame around when you will be done.

2. Focus on Customers

Being able to retain desirable clients plays a significant role in the continued success of a small business. Not only does having regular customers mean regular income, but happy clients can also provide powerful word-of-mouth marketing.

Along with providing your clients with an exceptional product or service, you can encourage repeat business by being customer service-focused. This means asking for and acting on feedback, addressing issues and complaints quickly and thoroughly, and being consistently accessible and accountable.

3. Commit to Continuous Learning

You should understand that no matter how much you achieve, there will always be more to be learned and applied for even greater success.

Even if you don’t have the time or the desire to learn in a traditional classroom setting, there are a number of ways you can advance your knowledge and continue to learn so your business can continue to thrive. Continuous learning can take the form of online training, self-paced programs, collaborative opportunities, mentoring, and even reading.

4. Learn How To Delegate

Whether you have employees, subcontractors or family pitching in, learning how to delegate effectively can be the difference between reaching new heights and burning out.

Many small-business owners are accustomed to doing a variety of things themselves instead of enlisting the help of others. So, it can be challenging to identify the tasks you don't need to do yourself and assign the work to someone else. Once you overcome the challenge, though, you will have more time to dedicate to what you do best—grow your business.

5. Increase Your Productivity

Some of what you do as a small-business owner will be routine; there is a variety of daily tasks that will need to be accomplished to keep your business running smoothly.

The more effective you are when it comes to completing the day-to-day business management tasks (the ones that you don't delegate, that is), the more potential your small business has for greater success. You can boost your productivity by developing systems to streamline these processes.

6. Stay Current With Technology

Technology plays a role in every business, so all small-business owners can benefit from not only having an understanding of the technology that impacts them directly, but also keeping track of how it changes.

Keeping up with new and changing technology can help small-business owners make better decisions; and it can help save money, time and other resources.

7. Change up Your Marketing Activities

Consistently changing, testing and mixing your marketing activities can be a valuable way to see what works, what doesn’t and what type of result it produces.

Many small-business owners understand how online marketing and social media marketing can add new dynamics to promoting their goods and services. The most successful small businesses are willing to explore new outlets of online marketing—in combination with their offline marketing activities—to see what produces the most interest.

While you do not need to do all of these activities at once, most successful small-business owners find a way to work them in over time. To gain momentum, start with one or two that are already aligned with the way you run your business, and then start to make changes to incorporate the others gradually.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the key steps to start improving a business?

Key steps to kick off business improvement include goal setting, focusing on customers, keeping track of your progress through some kind of metric, continuously learning, keeping up with technology trends, and looking for low-cost, high-impact marketing tactics.

Who can help me grow my business?

Start with your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). SBDCs offer free consulting and free or low-cost training. Finding a mentor can be another way to get free advice and one-on-one guidance as you grow your business.

Innumerable local business networking organizations can help you build contacts, often for a small fee. Other types of help you can pay for include business coaches or consultants, and marketing agencies.

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  1. Small Business Development Center, University of Houston. "Setting Attainable Goals for Your Small Business."

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