When running your bookkeeping business, mistakes happen.
There’s no way around it sometimes.
But, awareness beforehand about potential pitfalls can be a great preventive measure to stop future slip ups.
INC.com’s, Dave Kerpen interviewed Scott Moyer, the president of DriveSavers Data Recovery, who revealed the 6 most common ways businesses die and tips on how to avoid falling into the same fate.
1. Ignore customer feedback
One surefire way to run your business into the ground is to disregard your customers.
And yet, companies do this — a lot.
Without asking your customers the right questions and listening to their answers, you’re not going to have a very clear understanding of what they want from your product or service. How can you continue to fill their needs if you don’t know what they are?
Here’s a story you may be familiar with:
A series of customers ask for something that, on the surface, simply doesn’t seem realistic. So, your company regularly chooses to completely disregard these requests. No one ever takes time to consider what deeper needs might be met or how this request might be approached differently. The next thing you know, you’ve lost these customers to a competitor who finds a way to fulfill the customers’ wishes in a creative way.
For example, let’s say your company specializes in lawn fertilizer. Fertilizer must be reapplied throughout the year, and customers frequently ask if your company offers any way to automate the reapplication process so they don’t forget.
Fertilizer requirements vary widely depending on type of lawn, the season and many other factors. As a result, creating an automated fertilizing solution that is actually good for the lawn simply is not possible.
But, is there another way to help these customers? How about an app for their smartphones that can assist in determining a proper regimen for their lawns and provide reminders? Or how about partnering with a service where a lawn specialist goes to a customer’s home to test the lawn, discuss the best fertilizing schedule (using your products) and provide ideas for a reminder system?
Customers may not generally know what it takes to make your product or provide your service, but they certainly know what it’s like to use it. And if they’re looking for something more, you can bet they will find it somewhere else.
3 ways to meet your customers’ needs:
3 easy ways to stay in touch with your customers and their needs:
2. Disregard ideas from the front lines
You have all the numbers–sales, web traffic, conversions. You’ve got all the information you could possibly need, so listening to suggestions from staff is a waste of your time, and they’ve got a job to do, right?
Wrong. If you want to grow your company, grow your listening skills. Your employees are on the front lines and know things the numbers won’t tell you. So don’t be dissuaded from keeping your ears open for good ideas.
3 Tips to encourage idea sharing:
2 Tips to avoid wasting time with unproductive idea sharing:
3. Hold meetings — lots of them
Don’t have anything to do?
Call a meeting so nobody else will get anything done either. For many of us, there is no bigger waste of time. We all get pulled from our work for reasons we can’t even comprehend. And then, if we find ourselves in a meeting that doesn’t even apply to us, we can’t leave.
In this wondrous age of digital everything, meetings should really only be held when there is a topic that can’t be shared or resolved through email.
2 questions to ask yourself before calling a meeting:
3 Tips to keep your necessary meetings short and productive:
4. Make your employees work as many hours as possible
Many companies applaud employees who work as many hours as they can each day, as though more hours spent at the office always equates to higher productivity.
You know that guy who makes sure to walk around everywhere, coffee in hand, first thing in the morning just so you know he was there before you? He’s not actually getting any work done while he’s doing that. Nor is he getting any work done as he walks around the office at the end of the day to make sure everyone knows he’s still there. And while he’s walking around not getting anything done, he’s distracting his co-workers from getting anything done, too.
You can’t associate hours spent at work with work accomplished. In fact, there is a ton of research out there showing that, for the average person, working more than 40 hours per week will cause a nosedive in overall productivity.
Allow flexibility in work schedules, but encourage people to work their eight hours and go home. Unless we’re talking about a customer service position where a physical body must be available during certain hours, it’s really not important how long you spend at the office each day; what’s important is how much you get done.
3 Productivity tips
5. Establish a clear hierarchy of who’s in charge
Some companies like to make sure every employee memorizes and understands the company organization chart. People higher up are even given physical symbols of their place in the company to make it clear who should be respected.
For example, I once worked for a company who only allowed employees with “Director” in their job titles to have arms on their chairs. No joke.
Making it clear certain employees should be respected only shows that other employees aren’t. Lack of respect at work has all kinds of horribly negative effects from lower productivity to outright hostility.
Sure, it should be clear who each employee directly answers to and takes direction from, but otherwise all employees should be treated equally regardless of title.
Rather than position, reward loyalty, productivity and personal discipline, all qualities that should exist in any level of your company hierarchy and are worthy of notice.
3 Tips for encouraging equality and respect in the workplace:
3 Tips for rewarding loyalty, productivity and self-discipline:
6. Forget marketing, because you don’t need it
Your product is earth shattering and will sell itself. Why would you need a marketing team, much less a marketing budget? Well, because no one is ever going to buy your product if they don’t know about it.
Pretty much every company spends something on marketing. Most companies, however, don’t spend enough.
We all like to see hard numbers in order to justify spending, and understandably so.
Unfortunately, very little of today’s marketing converts to hard numbers.
The average consumer needs to see your company name seven times from different sources before they trust your brand and become interested in making a purchase.
You might be able to measure that seventh touch because that’s when a consumer clicks to check out your website, but what about the first six? How do you measure which campaigns caught that customer’s eye and stuck in their mind?
When it comes to marketing, social media and public relations, don’t judge a book by the numbers. Just get word out there about your company and your product or service.
4 Tips to help your marketing and public relations departments:
Some great insight.
I’m sure you’re guilty of committing a few of the above.
You’re not alone.
Many business owners have done the same.
But now, you’re armed with some information which can help you from repeating past errors and avoid taking nasty tumbles in the future.
So, what will you do now to ensure the above mistakes are not a future reality in your business?
The quicker you figure that out and implement your solutions, the less you have to worry about your operation being driven into the ground.
As always, the choice is yours.
To your success,