This morning I visited my friend Nicola, who's just started running her own business (she's my hairdresser), and it was great to hear that she's already got her 'business head' on, and is busy working out how she's going to start differentiating and improving her salon.
She's taken over an existing business, and this of course can have its upsides and downsides — the upsides being that she is making money from day one (quite useful!), but the downside being that there isn't a blank page to start from to do everything your way from the outset.
But here's some things that we talked about that made me confident that the salon is only going to get better and more profitable:
- Work with what you've got — some things will be working in your business, so don't think you have to change everything!
- Do things one at a time — yes, your 'to do' list might well be long, but prioritise and do one thing at a time so you don't get stressed! That said, do each thing as quickly and effectively as you can so you can move through the list and get things happening.
- Don't be afraid to try something different — so what if all the other businesses in your town or marketplace don't do things that way... GOOD! If you have conviction in what you're doing, then it's good to try something new.
- Understand what your customers want — having experience of the business you are in here helps of course, but if you're new to your business and want to know what your customers want — just ask them!
- Little things can add up to a big change (and customer loyalty) — like a nice coffee machine :) or just anything that shows attention to detail, and demonstrates good customer service (here I advocate the 'best friend' approach — i.e. treat your customers like you would your best friends).
- Get a good 'system' in place (as soon as you can) — and by this I mean actual systems (like IT ones e.g. accounting, invoicing, orders, appointments, calendar, CRM, etc. that just make day-to-day stuff a lot easier), and also ways of doing things — filing, where and how to work, and people who can help you, etc.
- Planning ahead — don't just be thinking about next week or next month... think about how what you're doing now will 'look like' in 6 months time, 1 years time, and 5 years time. It's sometimes not possible to already have worked out your 'exact' exit strategy, but at least realise that you need one!
- Getting on with it! — sometimes the hardest thing of all, but it's certainly the one that makes the most difference!
These are all important things to remember when looking at your business. And not just when it's new. Whenever you can, take a step back (or step out) of your business, as it will allow you to see what changes you can make that will improve it's performance.
Want to talk more about this?