Owning your business is not an easy or cheap task, but it is incredibly rewarding. Being able to be your own boss, have additional income, or even sustain yourself solely with your business is one of the top goals of every American. However, along with owning your own business comes a lifetime of trying to improve your business, develop the best products, best services, and coming out on top of the competition. Unfortunately, only 30% of Americans have established a long-term financial plan that covers both investments and savings, meaning that a long-term financial plan for your business might not be the first thing that pops into your head.
Keeping the Long-Run In Mind
Starting a business is difficult, and the first few years are incredibly important. Only 50% of businesses survive within the first 4 years, and 65% fail within the first 10 years. You might be so caught up and busy with making your business a reality, that methods and investments to improve your business stay in the back of your mind. However, businesses that fail do so for various reasons, primarily being unable to communicate well with customers, according to Forbes magazine.
Lack of good leadership and inability to profit and use revenue streams adequately are also what some of the best business coaches would say contribute to a business’s downfall as well. As a business owner, being proactive with your business and constantly finding ways to improve your business are essential to making your business a success. Whether you’ve just started your business, or are struggling, these 15 investments to improve your business can be incredibly useful. Investments to help your business are necessary, and so is keeping the long-run in mind. Don’t forget to constantly strive to do the best, no matter how much your product is selling, and continue to do intense research to improve your business.
1. Conduct Market Research
Conducting market research consistently is one of the surest ways to continue to improve your business over time. It’s not enough to simply know who your customers are, but what they want out of a product or services, how much they’re willing to spend, and how this trend changes over time. Market research is useful in any kind of business, but it’s especially important in those that include sales.
Market research can involve simple customer surveys, using online tools such as Google Analytics, or even conducting in-depth research on the competition. For instance, if you own a car dealership, it’s important to know what customers are looking for in every type of vehicle, from work-ready trucks to luxury cars, and how much the competition is charging for these same vehicles and any add-ons to them. This is just one example of the way in which market research seeps into everyday businesses, and must be done continuously to see the best results.
2. Start with a Great Location
Looking for a commercial property for rent can be difficult, and you might be tempted to go with the cheapest option. However, it’s important to consider the location you choose to make your business in, and how this can help to improve your business. Is it in a location that will soon have new developments and entertainment centers nearby? Is it easily viewed from the street? Considering the location first and foremost will do wonders in helping you grow and maintain your business for years to come.
3. Pay for Ads
It might be tempting to do an advertisement yourself by simply tacking on text and a picture on a poster or pamphlets. However, a good advertising expert, digital media artist, and the work of some great custom printing shops can help make your advertisements really stick. Advertisements work by utilizing great color schemes, attracting an audience, and capturing their attention. A trained public relations specialist can also help bring you more customers and improve your business and its clientele through great advertising.
4. Maintain a Clean Shop
Spending money to keep your business clean is incredibly important, not just for the functionality of the business, but also to not stir away customers. Hiring the best help from cleaning crews, maintenance contractors, or simply spending a little extra on the best cleaning supplies all make a difference. This is especially important if you own a salon, tattoo shop, and even a restaurant. In any case, make the proper investments to keep your business spic and span.
5. Spend on Customer Service
It’s been said that good help is hard to find nowadays, and this might be even more true if you’re a customer. No customer wants to have a hard time returning an item, not getting help finding a product, or even have difficulty using a business’ website. Spend time and money to improve your business by having an updated website, a dedicated customer service team, or even spending to teach your employees on the best customer service etiquette and practices.
6. Offer Deals
Offering deals and coupons might seem like you’re wasting money, but on the contrary, offering deals that don’t affect your profit margin too heavily can be a great way to attract many more customers. In fact, your cheap deals could be the staple of your business, and the money you would “lose” on the profit you gain in extra customers. An example like this is Subway, whose 5-dollar footlong deal on a sandwich is now a hallmark of their brand and the reason many customers eat there! Utilizing apps such as Groupon, Yelp, and putting coupons in your local newspaper are all great ways to get your business out there, and improve your foot traffic.
7. Use a Social Media Consultant
Keeping up to date on social media and managing an account is a great way to improve your business by staying trendy. Social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, even have built-in business page features that can do anything from advertising to linking to your website. If you’re older, not too tech-savvy, or simply don’t have enough time to manage a social media account, investing in a social media consultant that knows how to get people talking about your business can prove to be life-changing.
8. Keep Up with Your Brand
Like social media, it’s important to have your brand stay trendy and move with the times. Spending time and money to conduct market research can not only help you shape your product but also your brand over time. For instance, if you run a green-juice shop, or sell recycled materials, keeping up to date with the latest in eco-friendly news can be a great way to make your brand known in that community, as well as gain a loyal following. A great example of this is TOMS shoes, who have kept their brand consistent, and spend money on making sure their buy one pair donate another pair brand stays on top and continues to sell in shoe-stores worldwide.
9. Spend on Community Outreach
It’s important to spend time in your community not only to give back, but also to know what it is your community wants out of your business, a product, or services. Donating to charities and community outreach programs can help improve your business by helping you gain a loyal following in your community. In addition, attending community outreach events can help you understand your audience and customer base better. For instance, if you run a local food-store, what do those in your community wish you had that other store don’t? What can you improve on? Spending on donations and community outreach might seem daunting at first, but it proves beneficial in the long run.
10. Consider Renovations
Like all buildings, businesses are subject to wear and tear over time, and everything from your windows to your doors to the lighting and color scheme, and even fire alarm and lack of proper safety can all cause customers to turn away from your business. Consider renovations to modernize your business, including minimalist shelving, smart product placement, minimalist and soft lighting, and beautiful modern color schemes such as black and white. In addition, make sure you’re protecting your business and customers by renovating all fire alarm systems, and emergency exits including commercial metal doors. The safer your customers feel, the better!
11. Use the Latest in POS technology
With the advent of contactless payments, smartphones and smartwatches, comes changes you must invest in to keep up with the ever-advancing customer base. This includes having the best pos systems that can accept all forms of payment, make it easy for customers to have their receipt e-mailed, and also make it easier for cashiers to process orders and not form long lines. The better up-to-date your pos systems are, the better your company will run, and you can be sure to see a dramatic change. On top of allowing transactions to run smoother, advanced pos systems can improve your business by making it easier for customers to also return items, gain points on purchases, and feel more comfortable while making a purchase.
12. Install Entertainment
Whether your business has a waiting area, you own a bar or restaurant, or even a simple little boutique, customers want to have a great atmosphere while waiting or shopping around. Investing in entertainment technology such as your local digital signage solution services, updated screens and large TV’s, and even playing trendy music while customers shop can all help to make your clients feel well-entertained. You can even use this entertainment to strengthen your business brand, such as playing only sports at a sports bar, showing independent movies at a local cafe, and playing hip music at your very own clothing store. The choices are virtually endless!
13. Update to Save on Energy Costs
Saving on energy costs can be simpler than you think, and not require too heavy of an investment. Fixing your doors and windows to ensure they have a proper seal and aren’t letting air out, for instance, can save you on energy costs and improve your business profits. However, sometimes it’s best to update and spend extra money to save in the long run. For example, using solar energy panels to run your business can be pricey at first, but in the long run, save your business thousands of dollars in energy costs.
14. Invest in Your Employees
We’ve talked a lot about employees, including customer service specialists, cashiers, and even social media editors. It’s important to invest in your employees to keep them happy and keep your business running, both on a day-to-day basis and in terms of qualifying for benefits. Without great employees who are willing to go the extra mile for you and the customer, your business can go bust very quickly.
Spending money to offer benefits is incredibly important to prevent your employees from leaving, and having to constantly hire new ones. Vacation, sick time and insurance are all important. The last thing your employees want to worry about is time off when they have a sore irritated throat.
Even if you can’t afford benefits for your employees such as medical insurance right away, pointing employees to the right resources, such as medicaid benefits, can be a great option as well.
15. Host Events
Hosting an event is hard work, but spending a little extra money on one can draw a huge crowd. Your business can become the talk of the town, and if you plan your event right, can even gain the attention of the media. For instance, if you own a nightclub, offering half off on admission on a weekend is sure to catch some attention! Hosting an event might cost some money upfront. From having long haul trucking services ship you extra supplies early, to advertising your event, and the clean-up afterward, hosting an event might prove challenging. Nevertheless, it can help to improve your business if you use the publicity of the event to your advantage.
No good thing in life comes easy, and owning a business is another example. But, with the right amount of research, creativity, and determination, you can be sure that your efforts to continuously satisfy your customers can not only improve your business but also make it last for years ahead.