Running a business is one of the best feelings in the world. You make your own decisions, implement your ideas and hopefully you see your efforts pay off in a growing business and satisfied customers. But to get there, you have to kind of get used to a little worry in your life. The late night infomercials of self-employed people sitting on a yacht all day are pretty much a myth.
If you run a business of any kind you’ll know that hard work, and some sleepless nights are part of the journey. And as a collection agency that specializes in small business, we can tell you, most business owners wake up in the middle of the night thinking about any number of concerns, including how to keep paying their own bills.
But there are other issues that face the business owner every day. And quite a few that every business owner like you needs to pay attention to.
Sales and revenue:
At the top of every business owner’s list of priorities should be revenue. You need to focus on short-term and long-term revenue goals. You obviously need to take care of your existing customers to keep cash coming in but you also need to have a plan for generating new revenue in the future. Focusing too much on existing clients and not having some type of plan to attract newer customers could leave you hanging when those existing clients leave. We see this often in smaller businesses when staffing is smaller. Being busy means putting all your resources into taking care of current clients. Carve out time each week to make sure you are staying top of mind with potential new customers.
Staying on top of trends:
Never before in our lifetime has industry changed so rapidly. Let’s take marketing for example. Ten years ago, you might have been running ads in the yellow pages. Now, that book barely exists and you need to get savvy with online marketing. And even marketing your company online still changes every few months. The same thing happens in many industries including your own. Technology has changed just about everything we do for our business and if we don’t keep up with the times, our competition will. You need to stay current. Connect with industry associations, mastermind groups and at the very least, follow industry associations and publication on social media.
Keep your branding current as well. If your office still has wood paneling from 1970, and you see customers there, it’s time to freshen things up a bit. Or your customers will go elsewhere.
Cash flow is pretty much the backbone of your operation. Don’t believe us? See what happens when your customers don’t pay on time. You’ll be up all night trying to figure out how to pay your own bills, your staff and other financial comments. If you don’t take care of your own cash flow, soon enough, debt collectors will be contacting you. The solution?
Make sure your accounts receivable program is working for you. Must-haves when it comes to getting paid are, invoicing on time and at a regular basis. Never let anything get in the way of invoicing your customers on time. Put it in your schedule and make sure it happens. Make sure you are double checking your invoices for accuracy. Questions about amounts only delay getting paid on time. And it makes the customer doubt you. When you don’t get paid on time, follow up with a letter and a tactful phone call. Never get angry and always use respect when asking your customers to get current on payments.
When you get into situations that call for a more active approach, you should have a reputable collection agency already in place for your business. Find collection agencies that offer low-cost solutions and one that knows your business. Ask how they plan to treat your customers because in the end, you sill ant to keep that customer if you can. Diplomacy and respect matter when it comes to choosing a collection agency.
Depending on your industry, you may need to keep a close eye on government regulations. That can be federal all the way down to your local city or town. If you are a consulting firm, there are probably not many regulations at all. Retail? Maybe some permitting and other local issues you have to adhere to. Now, take companies that fall into any financial category. And yes, that includes collection agencies. Regulations come from all angle and it takes quite a bit of time and resources to keep up with regulations. But to stay in business and avoid any legal issues, you have to stay on top of these.
There are many concerns around attracting the right employees. First, many companies cannot seem to find employees that are a good fit for the company. For whatever reason, individuals they interview, just don’t seem to work out sometimes. Then you have the issue of finding qualified job candidates. For many industries such as manufacturing, the labor market is tight. There is a shortage of trained individuals to take on certain jobs. If you are having issues in securing great talent, we are probably telling you nothing new. But it is a concern and one that can get in the way of production. Less talent means less business getting done. Find every available means to get in front of qualified talent. That includes job fairs, networking at your local Chamber of Commerce, retaining a recruiter that has experience in your industry and reaching out via social media such as LinkedIn.
There are so many other concerns of business owner and we’ll cover those soon in another upcoming blog. But staying on top of these has never been more important with the rapid change in business this past decade.