As we turn the page on a new year, it’s time to assess what’s most important to your business success as a self-made entrepreneur in a highly competitive marketplace. What is top 5 business non-negotiables this year?
You can’t afford to be mushy or vague about identifying your must-haves and non-negotiables as a business owner. It has to be eminently practical, meaning both that it has a discernable positive impact and that it lies within your means to implement it.
With that in mind, here are our five top business non-negotiables for small business owners going into 2018:
1. Digital Security
It goes without saying that a lot of your valuable and sensitive business data will be stored on computers and likely in the Cloud. That means that cybersecurity is a huge risk factor for even small business owners and simply cannot be ignored. Digital security is a non-negotiable in a business that maintains a website, advertises online, stores information online, or has any kind of significant online presence (without which success is elusive); that is, to almost any business type you can think of.
2. Online Reputation Management
Like it or not, a lot of people will judge your business these days based on reviews and other information they find online. In fact, over half of the online vendors in a recent survey said they had lost business due to problems with (what amounts to) their online reputation. Taking efforts to encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, responding to negative ones where appropriate and practical, and investing in digital reputation management software can all be a part of the answer.
3. Second to None Customer Service
No matter what kind of business you run, sooner or later, you will be interacting with customers. Even if it’s via an automated checkout process, follow-up emails, or online chat sessions, you have to be the best when it comes to treating your customers right. The number one cause of customer loss (by far) is a poor customer service experience, which often has nothing to do with a poor product/service, but with a bad manner or inattentiveness to customer needs.
4. Fast and Low-cost Delivery
We live in an age of speed and those who can’t keep up are left in the digital dust. People are impatient and don’t like waiting any longer than they have to for anything. Make sure any products you deliver arrive fast and with free or low-cost shipping. And make sure downloads run quickly on any device with reasonable memory capacity. The speed of service/delivery will be remembered as much as the quality.
5. Winning the War for the Workers
Your vision and products and/or services may be the best, but that’s only winning half the battle. Being a good leader or manager is not going to change everything by itself. You need dedicated, talented, happy workers if you want them to be productive and you should entice them stay with you for years to come. You want top talent that will grow even more talented and efficient as your business is fueled by their expertise and effort. That means you have to offer competitive compensation and benefits packages and good working conditions; otherwise, you’ll hurt yourself by losing the war for the workers.