Yesterday I started this series with a post talking about putting your business ‘ducks in line’ right when you start or even if you already own your business, regardless if you ever plan sell or not – it just makes good business sense. Having these little fellows toe-the-line just makes good business sense and if you ever do come to sell, it’ll help you support and secure the highest price for it!
Here’s a quick recap in case you’re just arriving – there are 17 factors on our list and I’ve divided them into three groups – the same number of posts in this series – I know amazing planning on my part, how cool is that?
- Profit factors – Net Profit | Vendors | Customer DB | Shipping | Hours to Run | Ease of Transfer | Training
- Presence factors – Domain | Website Design | Content Quality | SERP’s Rank | Traffic Sources | Key Words | Visitor Volume
- Persuasion factors – Marketing systems | Social Engagement | Growth Opportunities
These are the factors that define the how and where of revenue and expense within your business. They lead the pack because they are the foundation blocks on which all good businesses are built. If I were presenting a ‘balanced meal’ here these would be the meat and potatoes.
– this is pretty obvious the lower you can keep overheads the higher you profit. We all know there are many things that need to be done to make a business really rock, but be sure you are applying your time and skills in the most economical and effective way. Don’t spend your time doing $10 tasks that could be outsourced to someone else, put your time and focus into doing the things no-one else can do. Also keep good records keep good records and at an absolute minimum use a spread sheet to track income and expenses.
– the physical world is built on relationships, good or bad and like it or not as human’s we’re genetically conditioned to seek out and build on interactions with others. A business is no different, if you’re selling other people’s products or services then you need suppliers. You need reliable, dependable suppliers with a range of quality goods or services. Your goal should be to build relationships with suppliers (and if you’re selling information don’t think you don’t have suppliers or vendors – it’s just yours go by other names like Guest Bloggers or Interviewees) who will work with you to help you sell more and sell more often. These relationships are the lifeblood of your business, nurture them and they will become the best friends of your business – the ones who are always there even when things are not going so well, they’ll take you out for a night on the town (Tweet or post about your business or say how great your site is on Facebook) when you get dumped and help you get noticed by that cute guy or gal (site visitors & customers) you were so keen to make a good impression on. Treat your vendors like that fantastic new date that you still think may be ‘the one’. Be loyal too but don’t be a doormat – oops sorry got carried away there for a sec, that’s another post for another site.
– or as I like to refer to this one my Customer Date-A-Base. I LOVE my Date-A-Base (I can hear my daughter saying “Mom – you are such a dork” and I am…so what – I’ll hold dorky’s hand all the way to the bank any day of the week) and you should love yours too. This is the heart and soul of any business, to quote Tom Cruise’s character in Jerry Maguire these are the guys (and gals) who “complete you”, without them your business is nothing, so cherish them like you would a soul-mate. When you start approaching it as ‘dating or wooing’ your Date-A-Base, you’ll find yourself looking for new ways to be nice to them, send them little ‘love notes’ (email marketing campaigns) with coupons for special savings, show them they are valued by offering pre-launch exclusives and special offers etc. Be sure you pay enough attention to them, but don’t be the psycho girl/boyfriend who won’t leave them alone either, be polite, but be pleasantly persistent and you’ll see the love coming back to you – it’ll show up right there on that famous bottom line of your P&L!
Shipping & Delivery Methods
– there are so many ways to process and fulfill orders these days, you can pick-pack & ship yourself, have a fulfillment house do it for you or if your selling information or software maybe you can use digital download. Whichever delivery method your business uses, be sure it’s the most efficient and cost effective way to deliver whatever your customer orders, gets it to them when they expect to receive it and in the same condition it left your facility in – perfect. The shipping and delivery method you use can and does have a direct impact on the appeal it holds for any prospective new owner and of course it has a huge impact on your businesses bottom line – remember that Net Profit number always tells the truth about your business – the ‘delivery duck’ can have huge impact on that, so keep a real close eye on this one as it can easily get out of line.
Hours Required To Run
– now this is one unruly little duck, it’s one that can suck all the fun out of your business and your life if it’s allowed to get out of line. Likewise a buyer is going to be far more enthralled with a business that allows them to have a life too. This is another example though of how keeping each individual duck in line will help keep the others on the straight and narrow too. If your business is set up properly with the right processes being as automated (content publishing, vendors, order processing & delivery, marketing) as possible you’ll ensure this duck doesn’t run out into traffic and get the whole gang run over in the chaos that ensues!
Ease of Transfer
– at first glance this might seem like it would only affect you when you come to sell, but in fact it affects you when you come to grow too. There will come a time in all successful businesses when the owner can’t handle it all by themselves. If you’re able to effectively transfer certain tasks or elements of your business over to an outsource worker, contractor or employee, then you can also transfer to a new owner. Creating an operations manual outlining the tasks that need to be addressed to keep the business running smoothly, will not only help you remain focused as you inevitably get pulled in a multitude of directions but it’ll also help a new owner feel safe about taking the process on themselves – it’s a step by step guide to the daily/monthly/quarterly, processes that need to be attended to for smooth, efficient operations.
– my favorite way to train especially for the repetitive tasks is to create short videos or a series of them if needed. I use Screencast, it’s free and I can make video’s up to 5 minutes long to show someone how to process orders and upload them in a batch to a drop ship vendor etc. Every business should have a series of short training videos that cover any task you might ever need to ask someone to do for you (even if that’s just so you can get out to a doctor appointment or go watch your kids school play without delaying a vital business process being attended to). You can save the videos to your hard-drive or a cloud based storage system (recommended), you’ll always have them to hand and VA’s or employees can stop, start or pause as needed to help them learn how to get the process done right.
Wow – that’s already 1,300 plus words so I’m going to cut us all a break here and pick this up again with the rest of this duck talk tomorrow…as they say in the deep south Y’all come back now!