For nearly a decade and a half, Victor Holman has been consulting large businesses and government agencies on performance management. But somewhere in the course of advising them, he realized small businesses could benefit from the best practices and strategies he collected in his work with the big guys.
Especially because they often lack the over-abundance of resources that big corporations and government agencies enjoy, Holman says, small businesses need to make sure they’re spending their time, energy and resources the right way to ensure success. That’s where his work as CEO of Lifecycle Performance Professionals comes in.
Holman has found 12 specific guiding principles, he says, and if a small business owner can refine his or her approach in each of those areas, his or her company is virtually guaranteed to thrive. Some of them are straightforward, some a bit more daunting–but what they all have in common, Holman says, is that they’re entirely learnable. But it all starts with taking an honest look at your operation.
“A lot of times, we avoid the areas that we're not comfortable in, that we're not good at,” he says. “If we just focus on trying to improve, small improvements in multiple areas will lead to huge gains and huge yields.”
Have a plan and know it intimately. Simply drafting one and filing it away isn’t going to cut it.
"Many businesses, they have the strategy, but it's always good to continue to come back to your strategy, to update it and see what opportunities you can take."
Invest in getting to know who your existing and ideal customers are. More than ever before, you have the cater to them if you want to keep them loyal to your brand.
"We have a new type of customer today," he says. "You have customers that are very informed. They do their research, so if you don't have a plan to actively retain your customers, they're going to go elsewhere."
One of the most daunting parts of a company for a leader without accounting or finance expertise, it’s also one of the most important. If you aren’t confident in your skills, find a way to boost your savvy – take a course, find an experienced adviser or hire someone highly qualified.
"You've got to understand they key financial ratios within [your business] and what your ratios mean within your business. You have to understand the components that go into your income statement, your balance sheet, your cash flow systems," he says. "You can make a major difference in your business very quickly just by applying a couple of strategies."
"You have to have a plan for getting your product to your customer with the least amount of effort for them and the quickest amount of time," he says. "You've got to constantly understand, what are [the] better ways that you can get to your customer."
Gone are the days when basic marketing strategies were all small business owners needed.
"You've got to be able to know the exact customer that you have," he says. "A lot of successful businesses will take advantage of a niche or very targeted marketing–that way, you can compete with the bigger companies because you're focusing your dollars on a very targeted customer that brings in the biggest return."
Products and services
"Unless you're able to analyze the products and services well–[that is,] you have a system for doing it–you may not quite realize that the actual products and services, what types you can make that can [have an] impact on your sales," he says.
Know your products and understand their worth to consumers. That means objectively evaluation their quality so you can come up with the best price and selling strategy.
"A lot of business owners don't take pricing strategies into consideration as well as they can,” he says. “Just a simple change in your pricing can make a major impact on your sales and your revenue."
Human resources are among your most valuable. Know your people, and make sure your staffers resonate with your organization’s values, and vice versa.
"It's very important that you have your people that are on the same page, that they understand what they're doing impacts the overall mission of your business," he says. "As a business owner, you [must] understand the drivers of good and poor performance, because if you identify employee performance problems early so that you can correct them, it doesn't affect your business as much."
"[Business owners need] to be able to measure their people, they've got to be able to measure their processes and they've got to be able to measure their system performance,” he says.
That means having consistent metrics across all divisions of your company.
"You've got to make sure that your sales people are equipped with the right tools to be the best sales people they can be," he says. "You've got to develop a solid system for getting appointments, you've got to teach your sales staff how to overcome resistance, that means you've got to really understand what are all the possible [forms of] resistance you'll probably get with each of your products."
Among the most important aspects are cloud technology, a solid email program and security protection for your IT content.
"These are all things that the savvy business owner is looking for," he says. "They're look at tools that can help automate, they're looking for tools that can help speed up and simply processes. They're looking for tools that can drive their business success, so that's important."
"Just like you set goals for your business, you've got to set goals for yourself. You've got to have a personal method. You've got to have your values, what you're going to put first in your life," he says. "Ultimately, your business relies on how much knowledge and how much growth you can sustain personally."