50 actionable business tips that successful business owners do

By Phil Ellerby

There’s no point giving out small business advice that’s great in theory but cannot be put into action.

Having worked in big businesses and for SMEs, we’re well placed to give practical help, business tips and advice based on years of experience.

We believe you deserve to be served by experts who can guide you painlessly through the maze of business opportunities and pitfalls.

We also don’t believe that you should have to pay for a service before you’ve had chance to ‘feel the quality’ and what it can offer.

That’s why we have produced this set of business tips… so you can get a first-hand look at the kind of thinking we provide.

15 business tips to help grow your business

Successful people…

Schedule their time off and their holidays: Unless it is in the diary, just like your work commitments are, it won’t happen. This is because, as an owner who desperately wants to grow your business, there always seems to be something else to do first. It shouldn’t be like that.

Don’t ignore personal health, fitness and well-being: This is because they know if they are too busy to take care of themselves, they are too busy.

Realise they are mortal: There are only so many hours and minutes in which to achieve your life’s ambitions.

Value time as their most precious resource: Each day, it is essential to list what’s most important (rather than just important) and make sure you do it. Bill Gates credits the fact he was always acutely aware of the value of his time as one of the most significant factors in his success.

Learn to say no: Saying no to commitments that aren’t important, such as meetings and events that don’t take you towards your goals, is a vital skill to learn. Remember, unimportant events won’t take you to closer to those customers who are worth having.

Don’t try to do everything: It’s easier to be really good at a few things, which is why successful business owners outsource, or refer customers on, for things which they can’t do superbly.

Know the difference between working for the business and having the business work for them: Don’t take people on to help you with the workload, they take them on to escape from doing the work yourself so you can focus on growing your business.

Structure their business properly: Setting out who is responsible for what and who is answerable to whom is an essential piece of small business advice to take on board, even if there are only 2 people in the business.

Delegate: First they set out exactly how they want it done, by writing detailed process documents, and then they outline what needs to be achieved. Following this, they train their staff how to do it. Finally, they pass over the responsibility for it and set reporting criteria.

Rely on systems, rather than just relying on people: If you grow a business but it is only great because it’s got some exceptional people, what happens when they leave, or when you need more of them? Process documents can help your business to run smoothly regardless of who it employs.

Ask their staff’s opinions: Never forget that the staff you employ often know how to do the job better. But no-one asks them.

Hire attitude and teach function: When you’re looking for a new team member, an enthusiastic, positive attitude is much more important than job experience. You can teach people how to do the work. You can’t teach attitude.

Motivate their staff: Share your vision of the business’ future and always show your appreciation for a job well done. This may just be a simple thank you. Rest assured, this will make the job more fun and rewarding to do.

Empower their staff: Nothing impresses a customer like a problem solved quickly, efficiently and politely. To achieve this, try to give your staff the authority to see to this themselves. And back them up on their decisions afterwards.

Don’t abdicate responsibility (like a lot of small business owners do): For example, don’t hire an experienced salesman and tell them to just get on with it. You need to always have targets and a performance measurement plan in place that you’re responsible for.

15 business tips for starting a business or getting yours on track

Successful people always try to…

Set goals in writing: They also remind themselves regularly what these goals are because research shows having a business development plan and goals which have a timeframe can make you over 30 times more likely to succeed.

Start with the end goal in mind: When thinking about how to start a small business, you need a clear vision of what it could be like when your plans come to fruition.

Map out and measure: Using tools such as Success Driver Mapping, you can tell how well every key system in your business is performing.

Report the numbers which matter most to their business every month on a simple One Page Plan: Starting where traditional accounts end, this single sheet of A4 paper compares the actual performance of your business to targets set in every key area.

Share the results of their performance with their team: Holding a monthly board meeting or team meeting is a good way to do this. You can then devise the actions necessary to improve performance further.

Analyse past financial performance to understand the trends and key changes in the business: Learning from the mistakes and successes of the past can allow you to enhance the performance of your business today and in the future.

Benchmark their performance to the rest of their industry: Doing this at least once a year will help to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Use the key learning points from the previous five business tips to produce a business action plan: This mapped out development pathway can help your business to improve results further.

Use their financial figures as an indicator of the business’ health and progress: Doing this acts as an early warning system. It’s important to do this regularly and not just as an afterthought to sort out your taxes.

Know that profit alone isn’t enough: If you run out of cash, you will go bust, even when you are making a good profit. Successful business people don’t assume the bank will keep meeting the ever increasing cash gap.

Think in terms of value, not price: Don’t use cheap equipment that will let you down or skimp on team training. Using home-made signs or poor stationery can give off the message “we’re second-rate, we’re amateurs”

Know that being the cheapest is usually a poor strategy: This is especially the case for a small business. If you gain customers by being the lowest priced, you’ll soon lose them when they find it even cheaper. And they always will.

Don’t get behind with paying their tax: They make sure they know how much they owe in payroll deductions, VAT and on their own taxes. And they set money aside to pay these when required.

Take a firm stance on customer credit from day one: A customer who doesn’t pay is worse than no customer. And once you let them get away with late payment, they’ll always do it. Nip it in the bud from day one.

Don’t change banks just to save a bit on their charges: When you find a good bank manager, you should build a relationship, and stay with it. Try to be open and honest with them, and work as a team.

10 financial business tips to help you attract and retain customers

Create an ideal profile of the customers you want to work with: And don’t be scared to say no to people who do not fit that profile.

Do things dramatically different: Be compellingly attractive to the kind of customers you really want to work with. If you are no different to the competition then why would your ideal clients switch to you?

Find out what customers actually want and give it to them: Never assume they like what they’re getting and don’t offer what everyone else does.

Find out what customers hate: And they make sure it never happens (ever!).

Don’t be scared to ask your customers what they think of you: Honest feedback is the best way you can improve and develop your business.

Know the value of a first impression: You only get one chance to do this right. When a new customer phones or calls in, they form a lasting opinion of you in less than 20 seconds. Make sure it’s a professional one.

Always remember it’s the little things that matter: And they remain obsessive about them.

Know where your customers are coming from: By asking, recording and analysing every enquiry you will quickly get to know the lifetime value of your customers.

Always see each customer as a potential lifetime purchaser: They don’t just go for today’s transaction.

Keep a record of your customers: Find out what they buy and what they like – as that’s when the next sales opportunity might be.

10 business tips to help make being a business owner rewarding

Successful people…

Believe in themselves and are passionate about what they do: This attitude will rub off on everyone around you, including colleagues, suppliers and customers.

Have a way of doing things that differentiates them from the others: Michael Gerber’s excellent book ‘The E-Myth Revisited’ is the definitive work on this.

Question everything: Always try to look for a better way to do things and never automatically do things the way everyone else does them.

Plan before they act: Don’t get carried away with your own enthusiasm. Make sure it makes sense.

Are prepared to take a new direction: And do it when a new opportunity arises.

Take advice: They use experts to help them find the best solution to a problem, and to plan the best strategy to get to where they want to be. They don’t believe they have to do this themselves.

Never solve the current problem and nothing more: They also make sure it does not happen again, or they devise a system to handle it in the future, so they don’t have to.

View problems as opportunities: Use a customer complaint as a chance to turn them into a raving fan of your business.

Plan their escape or exit strategy: They know that if the business depends on them being there and working in it, they’re holding back its growth potential. And no one will want to buy it when it’s time to sell or retire.

Don’t burn bridges: When parting company with the boss, staff, customers, suppliers, banks and even tax collectors, they leave the door open to do business again in the future.

Learn how to make more money – the next steps…

Have you been inspired by these business tips? Would you like to get more out of your business?

If you would, please get in touch or call 01132 2189552 to arrange an informal meeting – we’re confident it will change the way you do business and think about making money.