A new year is the perfect time to take stock of where your business is and where you'd like it to go.
If you want to transform your brand image, your processes, or even just grow your business in 2020, you can achieve great things. As a business moves through different seasons of its existence, it often morphs into something far greater than the founders ever imagined.
There are an estimated 30.7 million small businesses in the United States that make up 47.3 percent of the workforce in the country. Technical services made up about 802,476 of those businesses.
Unfortunately, many of those businesses are just getting by and are average, to say the least.
10 Steps to Transform Your Business
If you want to make some radical changes to your own brand and rise above mediocrity, you must be willing to make both big and small changes.
Here are 10 steps to transforming your blah areas into wows.
1. Survey Your Strengths and Weaknesses.
Before you can make big changes, you have to know what you should focus on. Spend some time polling your employees and customers and figuring out what your strengths and weaknesses are as a business.
For example, you might have focused so much on building new technology that you neglected the personal side of your business and haven't formed close bonds with your clients. This could lead to them being stolen easily by a competitor and is a weakness you should add to your list of changes for the coming year.
2. Gain New Customers.
It costs more to attract a new customer than keep one you already have, so start by making sure you have measures in place to keep your current buyers. Once you feel secure in retention, move into seeking out new customers.
There are a number of ways you can reach people, no matter what type of business you run. Your first measure as a tech firm should be asking current customers to tell others about you. However, you can also use methods such as adding testimonials, sponsoring a local youth league or charity, and starting a referral program to drive new business your way.
3. Transform DevOps.
DevOps is your particular way of combining software development and IT to try to speed up delivery to the customer while maintaining quality. However, the majority of companies fail to meet customer expectations.
You can get ahead of your competitors by improving DevOps. Set some achievable goals first. What is your objective? Do you want to lower the overall costs, get software out quicker or solve additional problems for your customers?
Figure out what you can implement this year and focus on things you can achieve rather than pipe dreams.
4. Upgrade Your Own Software.
Tech companies can get so caught up in putting out the next great update or new software for clients that they forget to upgrade their own software. Look at the systems you use for customer management and data storage. Is anything out of date?
Leaving things outdated can also put your company at risk of a data breach, which costs you time and aggravation — not to mention revenue.
5. Improve Your UX.
Look at the interactions your customer has with your company. Is your website easy to use, and does it check off all the reasons someone might visit your site? When a customer calls in, how easy is the process of getting an answer or placing an order?
Look at each point of contact with your users and figure out how to improve things and make them more usable for your client base.
6. Engage Your Employees.
If you really want radical change to happen within your company, you must start from the inside out. Get your employees on board with any changes by explaining why you feel they are necessary and what you hope to achieve.
Your employees should feel comfortable enough to present any concerns or ideas they have as you move forward. Remember that your workers are in the trenches every day dealing with complaints, issues, design, and customers. They can add a lot of value and input to the transformation process.
7. Improve Communication.
Whether talking to a customer or to staff, better communication skills go a long way toward resolving any issues and coming up with creative solutions.
Send your leaders to courses to help them communicate better. Teach your workers how to have a productive dialogue with customers and coworkers. Utilize in-house training as well as programs such as Dale Carnegie.
As your company learns how to speak in a way that drives change, expect to see big shifts in what gets accomplished and how well people work together as a team.
8. Analyze Past Data.
Moving forward means not repeating the mistakes of the past and learning from both success and failure. Spend time or hire someone great with data to analyze past sales cycles.
Are there periods where there is a slump? How can you get past that hurdle for stronger growth this year? Do you have a history of keeping a new client for three months and then losing them? What is the point at which they bounce away?
Reach out personally to old clients and ask for feedback. You can learn a lot about how to improve moving forward, and they may just decide to give you a second chance in the future.
9. Shift to a Revenue Model.
Many small businesses experience cash flow issues at some point in their lifespan. If you need to get cash moving again, look at what brings in the most revenue and shift your focus to those areas for a bit.
If you see a surge in profit when you release a new software or product, then spend more time on development than upgrades, for example.
10. Fire Customers.
You might have taken a double-look at that subheading — fire customers? Isn't that counterintuitive to keeping the clients you have?
Most of the time you do want to keep your current buyers. They are your bread and butter. However, there are some people who eat up so much of your time and energy that they leave you little room to grow.
If a name or two popped into your mind, then those are clients you need to take a close look at. It might be that they need their hand held because they are very indecisive, or it could be that they call customer support constantly with complaints.
Tech service industry businesses, in particular, need to carefully weigh the cost of doing business with difficult clients. Letting someone who is time consuming go frees up space for other clients. You may be able to serve three new customers for the time it took to help the one and, thus, grow your revenue.
Adopt an Attitude of Change
One of the most powerful things you can do to move toward a business transformation is to adopt an attitude of change.
Look for opportunities to initiate a shift in the way you do business. With input from your customers and employees, you'll find that your business that was once floundering transforms into a beautiful thing with wings.