Employee relationships, like any other relationships, rely on excellent communication. Poor communication can easily lead to misunderstandings and faulty assumptions that can poison employee morale, and leave workers confused and frustrated. That, in turn, leads to low productivity, high employee turnover, and a generally unenjoyable work atmosphere. While any number of problems can impact morale, one of the first things a business should examine when dealing with these symptoms is to examine their hiring process and how employment contracts are written.
Small business owners commonly work staggeringly long hours and face an incredibly diverse set of responsibilities. Keeping operations running, managing clients, working with investors, and intervening to handle everyday emergencies can easily keep both entrepreneurs and their budgets exhausted. Unfortunately, this is only a recipe for bare survival, not success.
For many small business owners, driving growth is, first and foremost, about attracting investors and securing the funding you need to purchase equipment, hire more employees, and move into larger facilities. While that’s obviously important, growth fundamentally needs to be underpinned by growing demand, and that means finding ways to reach more of your target market and better communicating your message to them.
Growth and disruption are fundamentally driven by change. Change is a constant of business, and it can take many forms, whether it’s a change in technology, market demand, supply, regulations, or anything else. Seeing this dynamic environment as a perpetual growth opportunity, and adapting to and capitalising on it is the key to establishing yourself and your business as a leader and a forward-thinking force in your industry.
Often we look to external factors to help us determine whether we’re ready to expand and grow a business. Certainly, there are a lot of those to consider, from investor confidence, to customer satisfaction, to the size of our target markets and the growth potential offered by existing demand. Many small businesses find themselves in an excellent position in all of these respects, but somehow still have trouble maintaining stable growth.
Most small business owners don’t spend a lot of time worrying about their data. While they might make sure to select secure passwords, they probably never give it a second thought unless money starts vanishing from accounts, or a website is taken down by hackers. If we give the idea any consideration, we expect that either our business wouldn’t make a good target, or that our bank would simply let us know if something looked off.
For many women, the arrival of Spanx was an “ah-ha” moment, a suddenly obvious evolution of something familiar, with familiar limitations. Despite this, Sara Blakely, the inventor and entrepreneur behind this explosive brand, actually met little initial support when she tried to bring her idea to market. The reason, of course, was that all major hosiery producers were controlled by men: people who neither used their own products, or tested them with real users.
Earlier this year we wrote about the Payment Times and Accuracy Inquiry by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), which is meant to investigate and address an apparent epidemic of late payments by larger businesses to smaller suppliers. Findings showed that small businesses are collectively owed approximately $26 billion dollars in unpaid debts at any given time. This has resulted in reduced profitability and financial stability for affected businesses, which made up about 70% of all small businesses polled.
Small businesses and startups typically work under enormous financial strain, and are constantly forced to examine their budgets to keep their operations lean and afloat. In many cases, business owners interpret that to mean relying on inexpensive low-skill labour, and requiring workers to “learn on the job”.
Turning your business into an industry leader means constantly optimising and improving your business to better serve your market. Trying to do that without collecting feedback is like trying to drive a car at night without headlights. The key to understanding your customers and providing them with the best service possible is getting and properly managing that feedback. But this begs the question: What is good feedback, and how can we use it to help a business succeed?