In listening to him, I was reminded that no matter how much technology you purchase and how well you implement it in your business, you need the basics of business properly implemented first. Cash flow. Sales. Marketing. Employees. Location. Business Processes.
In fact you can use technology to do these things better, faster and smarter. But the fundamentals of each of these things is not anchored in technology, they should be anchored in core business fundamentals.
Inc Magazine columnist and serial entrepreneur Norm Brodsky, has a new book The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up and it is filled with insight on the real life fundamental's of business growth. The book is co-authored by Bo Burlingham, editor-at-large of Inc Magazine and author of another great book, Small Giants.
While you are on the road to growing your business, keep in mind that your expertise, which your business is based on, is important. Maybe you are a florist and sell flowers, or a dentist and have a dental practice or are a graphic designer or design book covers. However, whatever your expertise is, surrounding yourself with and seeking the advice of others who can guide you into how to hire better, sell better, manage your cash flow or retain great employees is the only way your business will really grow. Norm and Bo dispense years of advice in The Knack.
Norm will be the first one to tell you that he's not a techie. However, he'll also be one of the first to tell you that that he definitely appreciates technology and knows that it's important to the growth of his company.
So what kind of advice will you pick up from the book?
- Control the sales mentality and balance it with a business mentality before it's too late.
- Learn to anticipate and recognize the changes in your business by developing a good feel for the numbers.
- It's good to have a lot of competitors because educating a market is a very expensive proposition.
- The first business plan should be simple, and you should write it for yourself, not for potential investors.
- Before you ask people for money, make sure you know how much they like to invest and what they're looking for.
- Start early to build a relationship with a commercial banker and use an asset-based lender only if you can't get the money you need from a commercial bank.
- Whenever you launch a new business, keep track of your monthly sales and gross margins by hand until you have a good feel for them.
- More sales usually mean less cash flow. Figure out your future cash needs while you still have time to address them.
- You probably won't discover your company's niche until after you've launched the business.
- You're better off with a base of many small customers than with a few large ones.
- Beware of the rules you make. They may inadvertently force your employees to provide poor service to customers.
- Growing a business is a matter of choice. Before deciding to grow, make sure you know why you're doing it.
- Your company's culture can be your most powerful tool for finding and keeping great employees. Don't miss the opportunities to shape it that arise everyday.
- The one thing you can't delegate is the responsibility for making sure the company has a single culture, not several competing ones.
- Expenses have a natural tendency to creep up over time. If you want to control them, you need to get everyone involved in the effort.
- Look for opportunities to send the message to employees that you really care about them, and that you want them to care about keeping costs down.
- Sales commissions cause divisions in a company and get in the way of building a team. Don't pay on commission unless you have to, and switch to salary plus bonus as soon as you can.
- Accountants are good for explaining what has happened in the past, but don't go to them for business advice. Talk to an experienced business owner instead.
- If you want salespeople to make good sales, teach them how your business makes money.
About the Author: Ramon Ray, Technology Evangelist, is the editor of Smallbiztechnology.com and author of Technology Solutions for Growing Businesses (Amacom). He is co-producer of the Small Business Summit events.
Ramon is a member of the Small Business Trends Expert Network.