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6 Biggest Reasons Why Your Small Business is Stagnating

6 Biggest Reasons Why Your Small Business is Stagnating

These days everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, so way too many people rush into the world of small business headfirst, without taking into consideration the many variables that can make you or break you. Some even luck out and are able to quickly learn from their mistakes on the fly, but most fail within the first year. This is why you see a few people at the other end of the spectrum – fairly ambitious, yet careful and calculated.

The careful approach can be a good one, but it is easy to get bogged down in various technicalities and have your business stagnate. If you are interested in promoting growth and expanding your business, then you should try to address the common issues small business face, which are discussed in more detail bellow.

1. You don’t engage your customers

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Reaching out to customers

    “Engaging the customers” is kind of a broad term, so let’s look at some of the different aspects it covers:

    • Good customer service
    • Rewarding loyalty
    • Inspiring trust
    • Social media interaction
    • Asking for feedback

    If you want to learn more about what the customers want, then go and ask them. Granted it takes a bit of work, but developing a great relationship with the customers and building a loyal following has many benefits. This extends to online shopping as well. Whether you are opening online shop or want to start selling your goods on Amazon, there is a right way to do things. It involves creating a great shopping experience for the customers. This means that they can find what they are looking for effectively, have access to interesting offers if they buy multiple products, can get in contact with you and sort out any problems, and they need to be able to finish the whole process quickly.

    2. You try to do to everything yourself

    It’s one thing to be very hands on and not want to delegate simple tasks, but once you start doing 4-6 different things it keeps you away from the really important stuff. Let’s say you are a great cook and have opened your own restaurant. You need to be focused on keeping the quality of the food and the service up to standard, and on making the right adjustments.

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    If you suddenly start mopping the floors, acting as head chef, doing your own accounting, promoting the restaurant on social media and posting two articles a day on your website’s blog, chances are you are going to burn out, and the restaurant will be in a poor state. You don’t have to hire an army of people, but be sure to delegate the heavy grunt work and focus on making business decisions and managing your employees.

    3. You don’t utilize modern technology to its full potential

    We’ve already touched on the importance of social media interactions, but small business can be greatly improved through the liberal use of online technologies. With fast and adaptable approaches to software development, i.e. focusing on agile methodology, it is possible get exactly what you need in a relatively short time, through effective communication with the developers and on-the-fly tweaks.

    A good website allows companies to reach out and market themselves to an international audience, while the right custom software helps them significantly improve their efficiency, cut down on costs, and. For retailers and restaurants, switching to a more modern POS system can make a huge difference, while many different small business can save time and money in the long run using applications specifically tailored to their needs.

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    4. You don’t set yourself apart from everyone else

    Standing out

      A business can do quite well, and stay afloat for years making a modest profit even if it doesn’t have any special features that make them particularly unique or appealing. However, you never want to get into the “let’s just get by” mindset, as it will all but ensure that your business never grows past those initial stages. Unless you are dealing with a very limited niche market, you will have to deal with a relatively saturated market, so any defining feature that helps you stand out and makes people remember you is going to be a key component in sparking growth.

      5. You focus on growth at the expense of everything else

      There will come a time where you have enough of a demand for your products and to warrant expansion, and an efficiency that allows for this expansion to happen. However, it needs to be done strategically. A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of jumping at the opportunity to expand their business at the first chance they get, and focusing all their energy on that goal. This can lead to a drop in quality of service as you start spreading your resources thin. It is important to scale your growth based on what you can realistically handle without sacrificing productivity or quality.

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      6. You can’t handle the extra workload effectively

      This is a direct extension of the last point. A lot of people believe that once their business starts growing things will magically fall into place and that they will be able to sit back and let this well-oiled money-making machine of theirs keep growing exponentially. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As your business grows so do your obligations and complications. It’s easy to underestimate the level of work that goes into it, and face the sobering truth – you are not prepared to take on the extra workload. This is where things can really fall apart, forcing businesses to work hard just to stay afloat, let alone turn a profit.

      Even if you make the first big steps and start growing your business, you can still hit a wall if you haven’t planed things out right. It’s similar to how Hollywood movies often go well over the initial budget as the production drags on, and many of them end up as scrapped projects as a result. Be realistic about how much a project will cost and how much time and effort it will take to see it through. If you are overconfident and don’t anticipate little setbacks and hidden costs, you may very well cut yourself short and keep stagnating.

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      Ivan Dimitrijevic

      Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

      How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

      We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

      So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

      While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

      Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

      What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

      How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

      But what does being productive actually entail?

      Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

      Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

      It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

      Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

      9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

      1. Avoid Multitasking

      Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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      Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

      If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

      2. Turn off Notifications

      According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

      Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

      The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

      Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

      3. Manage Interruptions

      There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

      Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

      If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

      By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

      4. Eat the Frog

      Mark Twain once famously said that:

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      “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

      What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

      We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

      Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

      5. Cut Down on Meetings

      Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

      You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

      The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

      But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

      If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

      6. Utilize Tools

      Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

      If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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      And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

      Some examples of tools that could be used:

      Communication
      • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
      • Samepage for video conference software.
      • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
      Task Management
      • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
      • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
      • Wekan for an open source option.
      Database Management
      Time Tracking
      • Clockify for a free tracker.
      • TMetric for workspace integrations.
      • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

      You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

      7. Declutter and Organize

      Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

      Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

      Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

      Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

      8. Take Breaks

      Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

      As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

      Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

      Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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      9. Drink Water

      Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

      Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

      Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

      A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

      If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

      You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

      The Bottom Line

      The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

      After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

      In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

      A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

      Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

      More About Boosting Productivity

      Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

      Reference

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