Build a strong team of people who are capable and committed. Avoid hiring on the cheap. Pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys. Take your time hiring and CV’s carefully remembering to follow up references and ask penetrating questions.
Inefficiency strangles a business. It’s worth investing in the right software and equipment to avoid unnecessary human intervention. Always ask if there’s a more efficient or cheaper way of doing something without compromising quality. Business is about constant change.
Ensure your products are competitive both on price and quality. Get your stock wrong and it could hold you back for years. If you’ve made a mistake get rid of your stock , learn the lessons and reinvest the money in the right lines. Don’t sit on bad stock – it won’t go away and it ties up capital.
Know your place in the market and focus on being the best. Don’t try to be all things to all men as you’ll end as a mediocre company across the board and your firm will fail to reach its potential. Be known as the best in class and the rest will follow. Keep an eye on the competition and where your market is heading.
Profitability Understand your costs and your margins. Never forget that it is profit that counts and not turnover. This is especially important with online marketplaces where sales taxes, commissions and distribution fees can easily gobble up your profit. Always ask yourself where money can be saved on unnecessary expenses and wastage. See '10 Ways to Maximise the Value of Your Business'.
Make sure you are visible within your market. Advertising works but it takes time to learn which placements achieve the best results. Social media needs to be understood and mastered. Find out what works and stick to it. Build up a presence and a loyal following, where appropriate taking advice from experts, but make sure they understand your target audience.
What your customers think of your products and service levels is crucial. These days service that is less than perfect or goods that are poor quality means you will struggle to maintain customers, who have more power than ever in their wallets. Surveys and ratings tell you a lot so make sure you keep an eye on the feedback to deal with problems before they escalate and cause you reputational damage and lost sales.