Even if we don’t want to admit it, there is waste in every business, in most business processes, and across every working environment, weather in the office, workshop, or warehouse. With all this potential waste, it is easy to become overwhelmed and do nothing when it comes to business development. So, during this short blog we have condensed the potential endless list into our top 3 areas to help you develop your business.  

As a business owner your main focus should be on improving your business (we know that’s sometimes easier said than done!) – taking waste out of your existing processes, ironing out any defects, managing costs and protecting customer loyalty.  

1.Personal Frustration  

When you start to develop your business, it always needs to begin with personal improvement, a desire to learn and a focus on what matters the most. This improvement should always be a marathon and not a sprint otherwise you risk burn out and stopping the improvements.  

When you as a leader have committed to this improvement mindset and have your team members onboard, a good place to start is with a focused “Improving our Business” meeting.  

The expectations for this meeting should be set in advance. But be careful – It should not be an opportunity to have a big moaning session. The purpose is to understand the frustrations, pinpoint why, identify how and create a plan.  

So, ask yourself and your team these key questions:  

  • On a regular basis, what goes wrong? 
  • What task is particularly frustrating? 
  • Where am I losing time?  

Then for each point raised ask them to answer these questions:  

  • Why do you think these issues arise? 
  • How could we address these issues? 
  • What needs to be done and by whom? 
  • How long do you think it would take to address the issue? 

This should all be done as pre-work ahead of the meeting and can be in simple note forms to encourage open conversation during the meeting.  

This simple approach will encourage team members to start becoming focused on how they can support to develop your business and lay the foundations for a business improvement mindset.  

Those that are impacted by issues and experience wastage in their day are often best place to suggest potential fixes. So this process will also ensure that the business owner isn’t put in a position whereby they are expected to have all the answers and avoids the risk of implementation of processes that don’t address the problem in the most efficient way.  

During the meeting a team discussion should be had around each point with the right people assigned to make the necessary changes to address the everyday problems that arise.  

The most important takeaways from the meeting will be clearly documented plans of what is going to be addressed, how it will be fixed, who is responsible, the deadline and the next review date.

2.Feedback  

In the world we live in today, feedback is everywhere. Listening, digesting, and responding to feedback is essential and will speed up the way you can develop your business far beyond the rate of your competition.  

The main sources of feedback will be:  

  • In every single customer engagement  
  • Asking your customers  
  • Social Media  
  • Google, Feefo or other ratings platforms  
  • Aftersales – referrals, returns percentage and repeat business  

The most valuable customer feedback is likely to be in your customer engagement, the question is are you and your employees listening to what the customer is trying to tell you? Apart from when its glaringly obvious, like a customer complaint, feedback can be easy to miss!  

So, when the customer gives you a golden nugget you should be ready to respond so you can truly understand this feedback to see if improvements can be made off the back of the feedback or if it is really a one-off example.  

“When it actually arrived”, “I didn’t have a confirmation email to…” or “I wasn’t aware it could do that” … these are all feedback phrases that could be missed and mistaken for just part of the conversation, but they are key in helping to develop your business. Do you need to introduce a tracking system, should your customers get email notifications, are your product features and benefits clear enough?  

So, how do you manage all this feedback and use it to develop your business?  

The first step is to make sure someone is responsible for feedback – assigning responsibility to ensure there is process to feedback is key. This person should consider all aspects of feedback, where they can be sought, how they can be stored and how regularly feedback can be reviewed.  

Feedback sessions can then be held to review feedback, suggest areas for improvement, agree next steps, assign responsibility for the agreed outcomes, set deadlines and most importantly updating your customers.  

A “you spoke, we listened” format often works well. A simple communication to clients telling them that you have listened to feedback, and you have introduced X, Y & Z is a really important step.   

3.Performance or Financial Data  

It is no secret that data and analytics can prove invaluable for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Most businesses have data in large quantities but don’t necessarily have the tools to process and analyse the data so it can be used to identify and implement different strategies to help you develop your business.  

So, if you don’t currently have the means to analyse your data it is important to be clear on what you want to understand from your data before falling into the bottomless pit of data management tools. 

  • What do you need to know from your data? 
  • How many data sources do you have?  
  • Is the data relevant to ensure objectives are met? 
  • Is the data reliable?  
  • How often is the data updated?  

Considering all these points in advance will ensure any investments made and time spent is well placed and isn’t distracted by the multitude of elaborate technologies and software.  

For some smaller businesses, your accountant and/or bookkeeper might be the key to unlocking your data insights especially if they use software such as Xero or QuickBooks. So, if you are unsure what data they can provide you with, its always worth a quick call.  

So, when you have your means to analyse your data how can you use the data to develop your business?  

  • A competitive advantage – understanding your performance data can help you make informed decisions regarding business budgeting, forecasting, planning, investments, research and development. 
  • Marketing Strategies – data can help you identify new customers, strengthen existing relationships, entering new markets, and introducing new products and/or services. Further to this marketing data can help assess opportunity success and general marketing insights such as engagement rates, email open rates, click through rates, shares and likes,  
  • Business Outcomes – data provides the insights to improve business outcomes such as product quality, service standards and productivity.  
  • Creating Value – studying data that provides insights into customer behaviour can help identify ways in which you can create value. Amazon and Netflix do this well – they analyse customer preferences to make suggestions and recommendations. They are giants and set the benchmark in this area, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t learnings from these companies that can be applied to a business of any size.  
  • Data driven – sometimes the instinctive and emotional responses to market conditions can be overwhelming, so the sue of data helps keep this in check. This ensures that there is no room to make mistakes or misjudge a response to markets. Data helps clear the fog and enables business owners to make informed decisions. 

If you can eliminate frustrations, address customer feedback, and use key data to develop your business, you are on the road to success. As already mentioned, this will take some time to implement, see the benefits and ensure you have started to build the foundations of a improvement mindset.  

You will know you have achieved success when you’ve ticked everything off your list and you will have a whole new list to help you develop your business – we don’t live in a perfect world and no business will never be perfect, but by pursing excellence and focusing on the most effective ways to develop your business, you can achieve amazing results.  

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