Small business health check
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Make sure your business is healthy and can grow by running through a business health check.
Being a small business owner can mean wearing many hats. These days there are so many things to think about when it comes to setting yourself up properly, reaching out, and making sales.
Hopefully, your business is running well with customers lining up and products and services going out on a regular basis.
Or perhaps you find yourself in a bit of a lull, with things quieter than you like?
Either way, having a sweep across all areas of your business and taking stock of things occasionally is a good idea.
In this blog, I’ll run through which areas to think about to make sure you have all the key ingredients in place for a business banquet.
This blog is intended to be an overview, with lots of links to other resources and additional information. I hope you find it useful, and if you have any comments or suggestions feel free to pop them in the comments section below.
I’ll start here because, while it is a subject that doesn’t excite everyone, it is one that’s fundamentally important.
It may be your motivation for starting in business wasn’t a financial one. Perhaps you started out by wanting to help people or to get an idea out there, or just for the sheer love of what you found yourself doing a lot of anyway.
Whatever the initial push was, it goes without saying that if the business isn’t making money, then the business can’t exist.
Before I get started I’d like to link to the 7-deadly sins, an article that goes into a bit more depth about the fundamental mistakes to avoid when it comes to your business financials. You can find the article here…The Seven Deadly Sins of Small Business Bookkeeping
So what to consider? The main areas would be…
- Are you registered in the appropriate place?
- Do you know your accounting obligations?
- Are you wondering what system to use for your accounting?
- Do you have a system in place?
If you are just getting to the point of thinking about which accounting package to use check out our blog / video What accounting software is right for me?
If you already have an accounting package in place and would like to delve deeper into how to get the best performance from it, you may wish to consider one of our accounting webinars, which run every Thursday at 09.00 am AEST.
Or perhaps you’d like someone else to take on your bookkeeping for you?
We offer full bookkeeping services and would be more than happy to have a chat regarding your requirements and how we could possibly help.
Defining your customers
An essential step in a small business health check is checking who your potential customers are, and it’s worth having a review of what your target audience looks like. Sometimes we just think we know, sometimes it may be that the potential customers we have in mind are who WE want to sell to.
Doing a review and matching what we have to what people are looking for, and want, can often be a surprising and useful exercise.
Nailing down a receptive target audience, matching your product with fixing a problem someone may be having, or an opportunity they are looking for, is a great way of making sure that all your efforts are focused on the right people.
If your sales are low or could be higher, it could just be that you are reaching out to the wrong audience.
The Client avatar process
One great tool for reviewing your potential target audience is the client avatar process. If you’d like to know more about this and apply it yourself, you can have a look at our blog The client avatar exploration
What tools are you using to reach your audience?
The next thing to consider is the methods you are using to reach out to people.
Are you using the more ‘traditional’ non-digital tools available to you?
These could be…
- Attending / hosting talks
- Guest speaking at events
- Joining and contributing to business networking groups
- Writing print articles
All worth thinking about. Which groups would be best suited to the audience you have identified as being special?
These days so much regarding outreach is done digitally. I’ll have a quick run-through of the tools that I think are essential for any small business to be able to thrive and succeed.
Having a Website
No business health check would be complete without thinking about websites.
A website is your showcase, a place where you get the opportunity to really cover who you are, what you do, and the benefits your products / services offer to people.
Your website should be addressing the people you want to engage. It should inform people and have all the info they need to understand what you do and offer and the benefits of to them of your particular products and services.
Any site should give people plenty of opportunities to get in touch to speak to you directly or purchase there and then if they want to.
A well laid out website, that is engaging and informative and easy to navigate, is a must-have sales tool.
And of course, it goes without saying it needs to be a website that people are visiting.
Once you have a website you need to consider if it has all the elements on it that you need to succeed. Here are a few key points…
- Is it well laid out with easy to find information?
- Is it fast?
- Does it include easy to find contact information?
- Does it have prominent calls to action to spur people to interact?
- Are you efficiently selling products, for example do you have an up-sell strategy in place?
- Does it have a blog with even more info?
And then there’s the behind the scenes stuff like analytics for measuring visitor numbers and their behaviours and SEO for getting your ranking up in the search engines.
If you think your website could be doing better, and you’re interested in seeing how your website could be working harder for you, you may want to consider signing up for a FREE website health check. You can find out more here… Free website health check
If you are looking to create a new website, or update what you already have, we would love to help.
Social media is fantastic at reaching out and grabbing attention with single posts. Posts can be written to inform, but also to direct people back to your website to find out more. They can also be used as a direct sales tool too, allowing people to purchase with a single click or to see a product on your website with info that will convince them to purchase.
There’s obviously the 10-ton gorilla of Facebook, but other platforms are worth considering as well.
Other platforms have their own distinctive personalities. For example, LinkedIn has always been associated with a more professional approach.
No matter the platform, as a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to be posting at least 3 times a week. A good approach is to have 2 informative posts for every sales post you make.
Your business profile should be professional. That means quality images, a great brand presence, and accurate information.
Do you have a content calendar? A good approach is to have a social media calendar where you can create posts and images for the next two to four weeks. Once you have done this you can load up your social platform and leave the scheduling to do its job.
If you’d like to know more about social media and how we could possibly you can find out more info using the button below or get in touch directly for a chat about your requirements.
Do you have a Google my business listing?
Google is everywhere, being the predominant search engine, with roughly 90% of the search engine share.
But Google is not just search, it has many other services to offer including a listing service called Google my business.
Google My Business is a free tool that allows your business listing to show up alongside other related local businesses whenever someone looks up your business name or a related term. Your business information like your phone number, website, address, review ratings, hours, and more will all be available on one easy screen for potential customers.
With a Google My Business Account, you don’t just get a business listing. Your free Business Profile lets you easily reach customers on Google Search and Google Maps.– Google
That’s worth re-iterating, you get a listing on maps, which displays not just your location but also all of your business details. Maps is a search engine in its own right, and being listed is an opportunity not to be missed.
Here’s a search for ‘virtual assistant services Queensland’
As you can see, ProfitAbility Virtual Assistance is the first listed.
Clicking on our listing brings up even more details.
Having a listing helps across all Google services and gets you closer to your potential customers.
If you’d like to learn more about how we could assist you with a listing get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.
An often less thought about area of marketing is using email.
Email is a great way of being able to build lists of people who have expressed interest by signing up to receive emails once in a while. Reach out to your list periodically in the form of a newsletter, knowing that your marketing is going out to people who are receptive to your message.
The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70%
The probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5% to 20%.
Email is also a fantastic way of building funnels (more later) that can be used as ‘nurture sequences’ for potential customers.
There are various options out there for managing these sorts of email communications. Mailchimp is a popular choice due to the fact you can start a list for free, although features are limited in the free option, and as your list grows a subscription will be required.
Branding (setting the visual tone of your communication)
People recognise brands and will identify with them.
This is an area of your business that is well worth reviewing as a part of any business health check.
Having a great logo
First off, your logo. Is it clearly recognisable? Are you using it consistently? So, for example are you using the same logo across different social platforms, on your website, and on any printed material you may be using?
This feeds back into your logo but also covers all of your material. So, your website, your printed material, even the colours you use in the images on your social media posts.
Again, this reflects back and has relevance to the audience you are reaching out to. There has been a lot written about colour psychology in marketing, and this is 100% relevant to your branding.
As a brief overview.
|• Red – associated with excitement, passion, danger, energy, and action|
|• Orange – tends to be friendly and open. It represents creativity, adventure, enthusiasm, success, and balance|
|• Yellow - evokes feelings of happiness, positivity, optimism.|
|• Pink – a cliché but a truism, this is the colour identified with a female audience.|
|• Green- connected to nature and money. Growth, fertility, health, and generosity.|
|• Blue - Stability, harmony, peace, calm, professionalism, and trust|
|• Purple – A trusted colour denoting power, nobility, luxury, wisdom, and spirituality.|
|• White – interestingly location dependent, so be careful in regard to target market. White as a background is no problem, it lends legibility to overlaid text, but as a feature colour it needs to be researched.|
|• Black - mystery, power, elegance, and sophistication.|
Of course, these colours can be mixed and blended, but have a think about the primary colour association people have with your brand, and if it is appropriate to who you are and what you do.
A predominantly yellow scheme used, for example, as a law firm’s branding colour may not be the best approach to take. Perhaps blue would be a better choice?
A good approach is to think about the primary colour you want to represent your brand, and then the supporting colours that go with it. You can find more info about colour theory and a good colour pallet generator here
If you’re interested in updating your logo then take a look at our logo design page
Use the buttons below if you’d like to find out more about how we could help with your branding and design or if you’d like to get in touch for a chat about how we can help.
Using fonts in your branding
You have little control over the fonts being used in the text of social media, but you do have full control of text in any images, and the fonts you use elsewhere.
Keeping your font choice consistent looks professional and is recognisable.
This website for example uses century gothic.
Again, it’s about brand consistency, and this choice of font runs through all of ProfitAbility Virtual Assistance’s materials, digital and printed.
To bring all things branding together it is worth considering creating a branding template.
This serves as a reminder of your brand identity and can be referred to whenever creating new assets.
As you can see from the ProfitAbiity Virtual Assistance sheet it doesn’t need to be complicated, but it is extremely useful to have.
Another major consideration when conducting a business health check is advertising.
So far, the marketing efforts described above rely on people finding you and visiting. You can consider it fairly passive.
Advertising is of course more active; in that you are paying to broadcast your message out to people.
There are the traditional advertising routes, such as paying for space in magazines, newspapers, and journals. There’s also signage and billboard advertising, along with flyer distribution.
In the digital world, you can consider the following.
With roughly 2.85 billion monthly active users on Facebook as of the first quarter of 2021, there certainly are a lot of potential eyeballs out there.
The great thing about using Facebook as an advertising platform is the fact that there are so many people out there.
Too many perhaps, and that’s where targeting comes in.
Reach out to people who have particular interests, or live in certain places or a combination of both. If you just want to target men or women only, then no problem, this is possible too.
With a solid idea of who your potential customers are, and with the tools available to target your message, you can spend your ad money wisely knowing you are reaching the right groups of people.
As Instagram is owned by Facebook the same tools you would use for Facebook advertising are also there for Instagram as well.
Another way of getting noticed is to use Google’s services.
In broad terms…
- Adwords will allow you to spend money to be seen in search.
- Adsense will allow you to pay for your adverts to appear on other people’s websites.
While Facebook, Instagram and Google may be the biggest players out there, there are also many other options and platforms where your advertising spend could make you sales.
If you are considering advertising, do you have a budget and strategy outlined?
Find out more about our social media services, which include advertising, or get in touch using the buttons below.
Engaging your audience
I’ve run through all the major areas for consideration, and now it’s time for a short section addressing ideas surrounding how you can start to tie things together and think about how people are interacting with you.
“Marketing is like asking someone on a date. Branding is the reason they say “yes.” Customer experience is the reason they stay.”Olori Swank
You may have come across the term sales funnel before, and it’s one of those subjects that can quite often make people feel a little nervous.
Really what it is talking about is making sure that you are a guide through your information, that along the journey people get the information they need with encouragement to learn more, and that the destination is such that you maximise your chance of a meaningful engagement (such as them getting in contact or making a purchase).
A simple way of looking at things is let’s say you have a website. You’ve built it in such a way that people can hop about from place to place to follow their interest as they read and that’s great.
A funnel is the same idea of having people click, but they are clicking ‘through’ rather than ‘around’, being more directed by you.
Here’s a simple example of a funnel.
- A Facebook post with a link.
- This goes to a page on your website which offers something for free.
- They have to sign up to your mailing list to get the free item.
- Once signed up they receive an email with an attachment to the product.
- Over a sequence of mails, you get the chance to introduce yourself, talk about the benefits of an upgrade, supply an offer to something you want to sell.
You can see this is a guided approach to interacting with a potential customer, and there are lots of ways of thinking about sales funnels and putting them together.
The customer journey map
There is a process that can be used for thinking about these ideas surrounding funnels, and how people can be made to feel motivated and encouraged to progress through them.
This process is called the client journey or the customer journey map, and you can read more about it here…
Just a quick one to mention copywriting. The tone of the message you write is super important, along with the choice of words and phrasing you use.
Formal language with formal wording is appropriate when it comes to writing something for a lawyer or doctor for example.
Language that is funkier, fun and hip may be better received by younger audiences.
That said I’m not sure the word ‘hip’ is actually used by younger people (or funky?), so the words you choose need to be thought through when it comes to the audience you are targeting.
Communication and organisation
The point of all of this is to get people to engage and ultimately purchase. It may be that your products are purely digital, or that you are selling products online which means that communication with clients / customers is at a minimum.
It may be that you are selling your time, for example courses or sessions with people.
It may be that for people to be reassured that your product or service is the one they have been looking for, they want to have a chat with you first just to make sure their decision is the right one.
In each scenario, there is going to be a measure of interaction with your existing or potential customers, and the way you communicate, the message you impart, and the tone you use are all crucial to making sure that people get the information / reassurance they are looking for.
So, once in a while as a part of any business health check, it’s worth taking a step back and reviewing your communication.
Are you timely in responding?
We’ve all had the experience of sending a message to a company only for it to fall into the void and to either receive a response days later, or occasionally not at all. Supremely frustrating.
Slow responses can cost your business money, and eventually cost you customers.
Taking longer to respond runs the risk of alienating those customers and possibly prompting them to contact your company a second time, which increases contact volume. Or to put it another way if you’re slow in responding they may follow up, which increases the number of mails in your inbox that you need to deal with.
Do you have time set aside to cover the amount of emails and messages you need to be sending out and responding to?
Are you organised with your information?
It’s well worth spending time and making sure that you have the information you need to hand for whenever an enquiry comes in.
What do people frequently ask about for example? Having this information to hand makes responding quicker and easier. You may of course want to have these answers on your website in a Frequently Asked Questions section so you can direct people to the information they are looking for.
Are you answering the question?
Having a pre-prepared set of answers to questions is a great way of cutting down your response time. That said be careful with them. If someone has asked a specific question it’s really important you take the time to answer directly.
Email templates can take you part of the way but each and every enquiry is a potential sale so tailoring your answer to their specific question is important. They get the info they wanted and they get to see you were listening.
I mentioned website FAQs above. These are a great resource to direct people to but bear in mind the above. If the FAQ doesn’t precisely answer their question then tailor-make a response that does rather than relying on the FAQ page you have.
Also, be careful when directing people back to a website. They may well already have read the page and are in touch because they want to talk directly, being specific in your response will make people feel valued.
Also, don’t assume they have found the info previously. People skim browse and then get in contact for a number of reasons, because they are busy, because they are lazy, or as I mentioned just because they prefer to converse 1 on 1. It doesn’t matter really, you have them in a more personal communication and this is the time to engage. So be wary of just saying ‘read the website – the FAQs are there’ which can seem a little dismissive and potentially lead to a lost sale.
Is the tone of your communication right?
I touched on this before when I mentioned copywriting. It may be worth having a scan through any copy you have just to double-check the language and phrasing are appropriate to the audience you are reaching out to.
Do you have a system?
Once you have spoken to someone and they are happy to purchase / order / book etc, do you have an adequate system in place to make sure that things get done efficiently?
This can include a booking system, inventory system, a system for making sure you follow up with people if needed etc…
Are you following up?
I mentioned this above and I’ll elaborate a little more on the importance of this one. We saw above that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect drastically drops to only about 5% to 20%.
Following up with someone who has become a customer is super important. You can get in touch to make sure they were happy with their purchase, and it’s an opportunity to direct them to new offers they may be interested in.
You can also consider adding them to your mailing list so they receive monthly newsletters. (Be careful, they need to opt-in, you can’t just add them without permission)
These sorts of follow-ups can also be automated with a mail management system.
Do you have the time?
Quality responses and timely customer communication will close the deal. Depending on your business you may find that managing this becomes a real time overhead.
A virtual receptionist could be the answer, saving your business time and money by responding to all of your general client enquiries, booking in your enquiries and making certain that you get the quality time you need to work on the more profitable aspects of your business.
If you’d like to chat with us about how our virtual receptionist services could help then we’d love to hear from you.
If you’d like help with the organisational aspects of your business, putting processes in place or managing info through processes that already exist then taking on a Virtual assistant to help is a great solution.
All sorts of tasks can be outsourced in this way such as answering emails, database and CRM work, filing, data mining, report generation etc, saving you time whilst still getting the results you need.
If you’d like to chat with us about how our virtual assistant services could help, then we’d love to hear from you.
Summary – Small business Health Check
I hope this small business health check has been helpful, and that running through the various aspects of a business setup has been useful.
If anything resonates with you or if you have any questions or additions you’d like to see then feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.
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Scale, Survive & Thrive
ProfitAbility Virtual Assistance specialises in Small Business Support for Business Owners