NEXT LEVEL business
This page is for the businesses who have proof of concept, are tired of running their business off sticky notes and spiral notebooks and are ready to take their business to the next level.
This website is for informational purposes only - the information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to constitute financial or legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. Readers should contact their CPA and/or attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.
revisit the business startup checklist
A new business startup is a lot of work. You may have skipped over or half-assed some of the items on the list when you started your business. Step 1 is to make sure you have completed air-tight tasks. Visit this page.
Analyze your business
Is staffing an issue? Do you need to make changes in your operations? How are your supply vendors? Do tasks never seem to get done? Do you know what your customers are saying about you? Do you take a paycheck? Is your business profitable? Do you have a marketing plan? Ask yourself a lot of questions!
analyze your profit and loss statement
What is your net profit on the business (not to be confused with your business revenue)? Are your costs too high? Do you need to increase revenue? How? If you have been tracking your income and expenses, you will know which products or segments of your business have had the most sales or are most profitable. You'll want to start spending more of your time and attention here.
who are your Top 10
These are the customers you love to work with, they are repeat customers, they bring in good-volume business and refer people to you who are just like them. Call these customers personally and ask them for their feedback. Ask what you can do better, or more of, to keep them as loyal customers. Listen to them and write down what they say. Spend some time thinking and innovating on what you can do better, different, more efficient or at a better price than anyone else in your field. Call them back and tell them what you plan to do and get more feedback. Then implement!
SOLICIT CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
Send a survey to the rest of your customers requesting they provide anonymous feedback. Ask what they think of your products or services; ask for feedback on their experience; what can we improve on? What problems were you unable to address, etc.? Use free tools like Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, Typeform, or Jotform. Also, generate an automated survey to go out to every customer after their transaction is complete with you asking for feedback. If you are a local business, ask them to leave a review on Google (bonus: it will improve your SEO).
do you need to niche
A niche is a smaller segment of the overall people you are able to serve in business. Many businesses use niche marketing to be the best or leader in their industry. Get more information on niche marketing on the blog.
Client Record Managment (CRM)
This is the investment that will make you wonder why you waited so long to make it! Most CRMs not only house your customer information, but you are also able to automate many of your processes - e-mails, invoicing, reminders, sales tracking, To Do lists, marketing, analytics and more. There are many CRM providers on the market and every industry will have client databases that cater to the specific needs of your business. Here are a few top CRMs on the market to consider: Salesforce, HubSpot, Zendesk, Monday, NetSuite, Nutshell and Freshsales. Note: Some CRM software providers offer a free version so you can test drive their products. It is a big time investment to get your CRM set up and operating optimally so plan to set aside a few chunks of time over the month to watch training videos and get your software set up to function optimally for your business.
prioritize the customer experience
Take a look at the customers you have developed over the past few years. Which ones do you enjoy working with most? How can you enhance the experiences of your most valued customers? Can you add additional services to deepen their experience? What can you do differently that will set you apart from the competition? Can you help save your clients time or money? Visit The Shop for unique products to help set you apart from others in your industry.
automate your processes
I mentioned the CRM system above to help you automate your processes. Think of the tasks that take up a lot of your time. Can you do something to automate (or eliminate) those processes? Is out-sourcing an option?
document your processes.
At some point in your business you will want to be able to systemize your business so you won't be doing as much hands-on work. Start documenting your processes now. You'll be able to use this to train staff and create a duplicatable system to grow your business.
do a gut check
Do you still love what you do? Is your work impacting your relationships with your family or friends? Are you available to your customers 24/7? Is there a product or service you're offering that just isn't working? Do a gut check to determine what you need to change and do it. Don't be afraid to cut things out - we're talking about your well-being and the success of your business.
is it time to add staff?
Did you just turn down that $10,000 client because you don't have time? If you are feeling overwhelmed, your customer service standards are falling, or you have an idea for a new product but don't have the time to develop it, it may be time to get help. Consider hiring freelance or independent contractors to start - they can also help you develop systems to hire your own staff, plus you can easily cut ties if things don't work out.
look for collaboration opportunities
Remember when Starbucks entered Target and McDonalds opened inside Walmart? Collaborations made in consumer heaven... When you collaborate with another small business who has the same goal as you, you can combine your skills, cut costs by sharing resources, expand your network and achieve mutual growth. Whether you collaborate with an influencer or someone who offers the same or complimentary product or service, there are many ways to collaborate. From cross-promoting on social media, co-hosting a podcast or video series, guest blog-posts, or developing an app that serves both your customers. there are many opportunities to reach new heights in your business.
is it time to rebrand
Sometimes you start business with the intention of blowing up a specific segment within an industry and you very quickly find that the cash doesn't flow in that segment. You've shifted your focus, or created a niche, and your old logo, tagline and business identity doesn't match your current offering. It's time to rebrand your business.
update your business plan
Although most business plans are updated annually, if you have deviated from your initial offerings and processes, it may be time to completely rewrite your business plan. If the offerings, goals and company information remains the same, just update your goals, finances and marketing plan annually. Read the blog post on How To Write a Business Plan and use our FREE business plan template.
how are those NETWORKING GROUPS
If you have been networking for a few years now, it's time to assess the networking groups you're a member of. If you are giving your time, input and making referrals, are you also receiving support, input and receiving referrals? Are you able to develop good referral partnerships? Does the group have a consistent flow of visitors? Are the leaders and members involved or just "showing up"? If the goals of your business are no longer in alignment with the group, it could very well be time to move on and find a new group.
plan a vacation
Your business most likely won't crumble to the ground if you take a vacation. The key here is to plan ahead, notify your customers, train someone to handle the business if necessary and set your own rules for how often and how long you can check in on your business while you're on vacation. Stepping away from your business allows you to recharge and gives you better focus after you return. You're the boss and your top employee - make sure you take good care of your most valuable asset.