By Ron Feher

Used with permission from Whiterock Business Solution’s blog.

“The only thing that stands in the way of improvement is the lack of will to do so.” – Ron Feher

Last week I offered 10 ways to improve your business. I hope that you found them both interesting and useful. Here are 10 more practical suggestions for continuing to improve your business:

1. Promote your business through networking – There are a variety of ways to promote your business outside of the standard advertising and marketing methods currently being used. By joining industry or local networking groups, the business can be promoted in a more personal manner. Additionally, participating in such groups not only promotes your business, but also promotes your expertise and willingness to share which sheds a positive light on your business.

2. Think of new ways to market your products/services – Think outside the box to help market your products and services. Add to the standard push method of direct and e-mail marketing with some pull methods like the sharing of your expertise through blogging, or offering useful “giveaways” on your website. It is important to offer things that are useful to your customers or potential customers. Giving away a pen is not the same as giving away something that could save your customers money.

3. Implement a customer follow-up program – Every company wants repeat customers, but very few make a concerted effort toward retaining them. Many companies only reach out to existing customers when they are trying to sell them something else. Why not think about establishing a follow-up program to engage your customers in ongoing conversation. Ask their opinion of your products and services. Ask about their wants and needs. Ask for testimonials. Utilize your social media presence and treat your customers like more than just customers.

4. Sell relationships, not just products and services – Every company wants referrals. The more referrals, the more business. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t take the time to nurture the relationships necessary to encourage referrals. Referrals come from not only offering good products and services, but also by engaging in more referral type marketing. Customer engagement, promotion through networking, and customer follow-up programs all help in establishing and retaining customer relationships resulting in more referrals.

5. Give back – Promotional items only go so far in a company’s marketing efforts. Showing that a company cares about their customers and the community in general goes a step further. Performing pro bono work for useful causes or organizations and actively participating with non-profits and charities shows that a company cares about more than just profits. Giving will result in getting much more than you give.

6. After you hire the right people, let them do their jobs – Last week I talked about putting the right people in the right roles. Of course after a person is put in the job, they must be allowed to do the job. Many business owners hire the right people, but then micro manage to the point where the person can’t perform the duties they were hired to do. The hardest thing for a business owner to do is to let go. It is also a very necessary thing to do. Smart owners surround themselves with smart people and then let them do their jobs. This will result in less stress for the owner and a much better business.

7. Empower your employees – There are many ways in which a company can motivate their employees. Money is not the only way. Many employees want the opportunity to do something different. Allowing and encouraging employees to be part of different aspects of the company makes them feel like more than just employees. Get them involved with corporate projects. Get them involved in the decisions that affect them. The benefits far outweigh the detriments.

8. Educate your employees – Just about every employee wants to learn – whether it is learning more about their current job or improving themselves by learning other functions within the company. Offering employees the ability to improve via seminars, technical classes, college classes, conferences, etc. shows an employee that they are not just a commodity, but that they are part of the culture of the business. Additionally, offering training to sharpen both technical and soft skills pays dividends to the company by having a more professional and proficient workforce.

9. Constantly look for ways to improve – There are a myriad of ways companies can improve and looking for them enables the company to deal with an issue before it becomes a problem. It’s not just the executive team that should be looking for improvement efforts from the top down. By getting your entire workforce involved in looking for ways to improve, you will cover all aspects of your business from the top to the bottom. The best way to find out what’s going on in the trenches is to ask those that are in the trenches.

10. Grow the whole business, not just parts – Many businesses grow only certain parts of their business. For instance, companies want more revenue so they will add to the sales force. More sales people, more sales. More sales, more revenue. But what happens to that part of the organization that is fed by the sales process? Sure, more sales, but can fulfillment handle the additional sales? Growing the business doesn’t mean just adding headcount or adding to the product line, it means seriously looking at those functions, processes, and systems that support the growth.

So there you go. Ten more ways to save you money, increase your productivity and efficiency, and/or increase revenue. Go forth and improve.

Ron Feher is a C12 Chair in Orange County, CA where he helps business owners build great businesses for a greater purpose. Ron is a certified professional analyst with TTI Success Insights®. He utilizes their assessments to help companies hire and retain top talent and improve team effectiveness and efficiency. He also does Career Coaching as an outreach (#givingback) and is a certified consultant through Career Direct as well You can contact Ron directly at ron.feher@c12group.com or (949-466-0943).