5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Let Go and Empower Employees

Small business owners are often reluctant to let go of the reigns of their company and delegate tasks to employees. Many have built the business from the ground-up and still hold close to the idea that “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” This aphorism isn’t always true, especially when it comes to running a successful business. When small business owners empower their employees to tackle the tasks they no longer need to do themselves, they find that they are more productive, make more money, and have less stress.

Why? Because the weight of the business is no longer on their shoulders alone. Of course, there’s more to it than simply giving employees control over certain areas of the company. Small business owners must have strategies in place to ensure that all of their hard work continues to be performed with the same degree of skill by their employees.

“Letting go” can be a scary proposition, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding how empowering employees can take many tasks off their desks while also helping them grow their businesses makes embracing the idea of delegation much easier.

But before small business owners can be comfortable with letting go of some control, they need to know what it takes to truly empower employees. They must:
• Know their employees: Know the strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, and limitations of each employee so tasks are delegated to employees with the right skill sets.
• Teach them what to do and how to do it: Employees probably aren’t going to do the job in the exact same way the owner is used to doing it. That’s fine. It just needs to be done well. Owners need to explicitly tell employees how they can do the job most effectively.
• Define expectations: They must know how the business owner defines success. Business owners are setting themselves up for failure if they don’t set a clear direction and define goals that are connected to their performance.
• Give them authority: Letting go of the reigns means empowering employees to make their own decisions based on the job entrusted to them and giving them the resources they need to get the job done.
• Be available: Advice and assistance will inevitably be needed along the way, but small business owners should let employees come to them. Keep an open door policy and don’t smother them with ideas.

Small business owners typically have nothing but smiles on their faces after implementing these strategies for empowering their employees. They find that all of a sudden they can focus on their core business to sell more and, in so doing, have a happier and more empowered employees.

The idea of “letting go” is really the key. It’s a scary proposition for many small business owners, but once they empower employees they always see better financial success, not to mention less stress.

Learn more about empowering employees at http://www.ThinkBlueThinking.com or calling 619.550.8052.

Best Internet Business Ideas – Small Business Writing

I know a lot of people who are looking for the best internet business ideas. A lot of those same people are creative folks who’d love nothing more than a career in the writing field. Luckily, there is a way to combine these two needs.

There are many small businesses out there who need things occasionally written. As a writer, you might not appreciate how difficult it can be for someone who is not creatively minded to come up with an interesting newsletter or write the company mission statement in a way that is powerful and effective. These companies are typically happy to pay a professional to spin their information in a way that makes it compelling to the average person.

If you choose to start this type of business, the first thing you’ll want to do is write several examples of the type of work you’re capable of. You should write examples of each of the services you offer. Some of the types of writing you might offer would be things like press releases, company and employee biographies, mission statements and web content. You can use a fictional company for your examples, or focus on a large company that everyone would recognize.

Once you have these examples in your online portfolio, it’s time to move on to advertising your services. There are many ways to do this from print to internet media. One of the best options when you are getting started out is to take advantage of personal relationships you have. Surely you know business owners – make sure they’re aware of the services you offer.

This is one of the best internet business ideas because it will allow you to be creative and make a ton of money at the same time – the best of both worlds!

5 Marketing Ideas Small Businesses Can Implement Now!

Small businesses often complain that a lack of budget restricts the opportunities to successfully market their businesses. Too often they confuse advertising with marketing and believe that placing an ad in the local newspaper will keep the customers coming in.

Below are five simple strategies that small businesses can implement TODAY. The cost to implement them is minimal if not free and they will do more to drive customers to your business than the majority of your current marketing activities. The list is by no means exhaustive, there are thousands of ideas out there but here are five to get you on your way.

1. Offer a guarantee

Guarantees often come in the form of money back guarantee. But by thinking laterally small businesses can provide guarantees that communicate their brand promise clearly and effectively. Guarantees also help to build trust, differentiate you from competitors and create a perception of a reduction in financial risk from the customer. Some examples include:

– Guarantee of product quality. “If your not completely satisfied with your haircut we will give you a full refund”
– Guarantee of service. “We will deliver your new bed tomorrow, guaranteed!”
– Guarantee of price. “We will beat any competitors advertised price by 10%”
– Guarantee of product range. “The largest range of lawnmowers in Sydney, guaranteed”
These are just some examples, the sky is really the limit but make sure your guarantee is strong and is consistent with your brand promise.

2. Create a simple special offer.

The best special offers are often the simplest. They can be as simple a offering a free item with every purchase or even a small gift for entering a store during a specific time. You can also cross promote with other retailers to drive customer traffic. Some ideas are:

If your targeting mothers aged 25-40 with your clothing store you could offer a free balloon (with your logo on it) to every child that comes into your store. It provides a positive experience for the mother and a useful point of distraction for the children so the mother can spend more time looking at (and buying) clothes. Offer a free coffee at a nearby coffee shop for every purchase over a certain value and provide products to the coffee shop for a reciprocal offer. Special offers don’t have to be expensive to, just try to make them valuable to your target audience and time sensitive to try and create a sense of urgency.

3. Start a loyalty program

When we think of loyalty programs we think of the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program or Woolworths Everyday Rewards amongst many others. The concept is the same in terms of generating customer loyalty but for small business they can be really simple. As an example, any coffee shop that does not have a “Buy 10 coffee’s and get one free” loyalty card available are losing revenue as we speak.

I’ve seen a coffee shop take this one step further and have a card file on the front counter where frequent coffee drinkers can leave their card. What a great idea! The card file ensures that their customers don’t forget to bring the card and that the card owner always returns to purchase the coffees. This idea can be applied across most small businesses including hairdressers, corner stores amongst many others. The key is to give your customers a reason to keep coming back to you and not your competitor.

4. Capture an email list of your best customers

Many local small businesses such as clothing stores, restaurants and hairdressers have a list of loyal customers that keep coming back time and time again. In many cases, the only contact small businesses have with these customers is when they return to the shop or salon. All small businesses should aim to capture a list of their best customers on the basis that they will be offered exclusive discounts and offers as part of being on the list. Wineries are particularly good at this where they offer exclusive vintages to their best customers. The winery is often able to sell through the vintage directly to the mailing list and the customer gets an exclusive wine that isn’t available at the local bottle shop. A win-win for both.

5. Host an exclusive event for loyal customers & friends

Loyal customers like your business already and by being loyal they are often the customers that generate positive conversations about your business. You need to make them feel special and give them an opportunity to introduce their friends to your business. Now that you’ve captured their email address, you can invite them and a friend to an exclusive event. Some thoughts are:

– An exclusive preview after trading hours of your stores new summer range of clothing with champagne, hors d’oeuvres and a 20% discount on all clothing. Exclusive only to those on your email list.
– You’ve just introduced a new type of manicure to the services you offer at your beauty salon. Invite your customers to an evening of free manicures and champagne to showcase the new service and say thanks for their continued loyalty.

Exclusive events are a great way to show your customers how much you value them and provide a great way to promote new offers within your business.

6. Under promise and over deliver

Yes it’s an oldy but still a goody. And to illustrate my point I only offered you five marketing ideas in the beginning but given you six. Over delivering does not have to cost you anything. It can really be anything that exceeds the expectations of your customers and creates a positive impression about your business. Some examples are:

– Tradesman that provide additional service over and above what was quoted.
– A discount given to loyal customers outside of sale periods.

The opportunities are endless. The benefits of over delivering are that it gives your loyal customers a reason to talk about your business. It also gives them a reason to recommend you to others and can stimulate referrals that lead to new customer relationships.

These six simple strategies are easy to implement and hopefully they have stimulated your creative juices to come up with ideas for your business. Let me know what you’ve come up with by leaving a comment.

Good luck!