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7 Success Hacks for Budding Entrepreneurs

7 Success Hacks for Budding Entrepreneurs

Being your own boss can be both fun and rewarding but don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t hard work. Several years back I started my very first business, and the memories are still as vivid today as when it happened.

Indeed, I can recall the feeling that I had after filing my articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. It was like, ‘So now that it’s official, what do I do now?’ Fortunately, I was very lucky to have made mistakes early enough to catch them and make my corrections. But it wasn’t easy. However, the good news is that today I’m going to let you know everything I wish I’d known then about what to do after starting a business. Let’s get started!

After you officially launch your business, it won’t be long before you find yourself wondering what to do next. If your launch is anything like mine, the weird thing about trying to map out a game plan isn’t necessarily that you don’t have anything to do. You might even find that there’s so much that just trying to decide what to do first triggers analysis paralysis.

If I could do it all over again here’s how I’d tackle my new business checklist.

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1. Ready Yourself for Growth and Success

While on the face of it managing growth might either

a) seem like a great problem to have or

b) like the type of problem that you only worry about when you’re actually facing it.

Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, the irony of it is that quick, unexpected sales growth could be just as detrimental to your business as no revenues at all! If it all sounds a bit far-fetched, consider this news from one of the most widely recognized business publications in the world – the Harvard Business Review – which cited the inability to handle growth as one of the biggest problems faced by new businesses. To support this observation, they referenced several examples of startups who hurt themselves by not responding adequately to the unexpected growth.

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Here’s what you need to know about growth hacking for the unexpected.

If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to be 100% certain that your method of production can be scaled; this applies both to companies who supply products or services. One way you can tell if you’re sufficiently capable of handling rapid growth is to ask yourself if your current production process could withstand 100 more orders – should they come in right now. If the answer is no, then you know that you need to scale your production procedure.

2. Have a Sales Team in Place

If you run a sales driven company, it’s critical that you find ways to generate sales – day in and day out. Without a doubt having a knowledgeable sales force in place to close deals is one of the best ways to achieve regular sales.

3. Become an Expert in Your Market

If you have a sound understanding of the fundamentals that drive sales for your industry, you’ll be in a position to stay a step ahead of the competition. One way to do this is to stay plugged into what’s going on in the industry. Of course, if you have an internet connection, it is remarkably easy to follow the trends that matter.

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While not everyone wants to prepare themselves to be ready for the worst, so many new companies go out of business because they weren’t ready to experience success.

4. Don’t Over-Rely on Your Company Launch for Sales

It’s so easy to adopt the mindset that your launch buzz will follow you into the post-launch phase. However, remember that this does not have to be the case and it usually isn’t. In fact, after that first round of PR wears off, you should prepare yourself to fight for every second or word of publicity that you receive.

Sadly, that initial buzz will wear off quicker than you think, so be ready. Another thing is that the sooner you internalize your new business’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP), the faster you can position yourself for long-term growth. Here are some things you can do to keep the sales rolling in longer after your initial launch.

Hire a professional sales person. Thanks to sites like Upwork and Freelancer, finding top sales talent is closer within reach than you probably thought. Nonetheless, it’s critical that you remember ever to be on the lookout for good talent in this area, as you never know when you may need to hire another sales person. Upon finding your sales pro, be prepared to train and equip them with a realistic quota.

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5. Maintain a Positive Outlook

Once you fully transition from being a startup to being a full-fledged business with a track record under your belt, it’s important that you maintain your enthusiasm. Why? There will be days where things simply don’t go your way and when they come it’s essential that you meet them head on.

6. Consistently Seek New Networking Opportunities

While you may have a core of customers that keeps the gears churning for your business, you never want to rely on them as you never know when they might disappear. The key to not being too dependent on long-standing customers is to acquire new customers on a regular basis.

So let this be a reminder always to be selling. But it won’t happen unless you make sales the focus of your business. And remember, it doesn’t matter how much success you’ve already achieved, so long as you intend to stay in business, you should always be bringing new customers onboard.

7. Additional Considerations for Your Startup

  • Connect with Like-minded People Online: Building a business can get lonely sometimes. Things can get so quiet that if you’re not careful, you could find yourself drifting into depression. One way to offset this is to find a community of others in your field that you can reach out to when you want to talk. An added benefit of employing this strategy is that it can sometimes help you find new customers as every now and then you may stumble across someone who refers you business because they’re too busy to take on new work.
  • Banking: Banking is something that you want to establish even before you start your business. If you haven’t already had an opportunity to build a banking relationship, now is the time to do so.
  • Decide Whether an Office is Necessary: Unlike years past where not having an office meant that you might not be taken seriously, in the present day and age, many businesses opt for a virtual presence. So depending on your market, a physical presence may not be necessary. However, if you work in an industry where your audience expects you to have a storefront or physical location, just know that there are options. For example, if you’re on a shoe-string budget, you can rent a shared space or something similar.
  • Establish a Web Presence. If you’re still using a free email provider for your email address, please stop as this is one of the best ways to brand yourself as a newcomer. Instead, get a branded email. They are now easier than ever to get and are often very affordable. The same can be said of your website. If you don’t already have a site, go ahead and build or order one now. In fact, even if you’re low on funds and don’t possess web design experience, starting a website has never been easier as most website builder platforms allow you to drag and drop.

There you have it. While this list certainly wasn’t meant to be comprehensive, it at least covers the key areas. Armed with this list of ‘to dos’ you should now have a clear idea of what to do next.

Featured photo credit: readbrightly.com via readbrightly.com

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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