Top-Shelf Tip No. 162:

"The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same."

Colin R. Davis

Four Ways To Keep Your Business Alive, Part 2

Starting a business is tough enough, but keeping it going is even tougher. The first few years after launch are typically years of investment and growth, with little to no profit. The key is to have a strong plan, streamline resources and get beyond the tough times to a point where you can build momentum and scale your ability to deliver to your customers.

In yesterday's issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we shared two critical success factors for a new business, as identified by Janice Janssen, a business consultant and co-founder of Global Team Solutions. These factors included a) having processes in place and b) knowing your numbers. Today, we're passing along two more key success factors to ensure your business survives beyond the first five years.

1. The Art of Marketing. The purpose of marketing is to let people know the value of your product or service. You have something that they need, that could make life easier, faster, better. It's not enough to just open your doors and expect the masses to come flooding inside. You must create and communicate the need. Business that fail do not understand the role of marketing—both internal and external—in supporting the growth and success of the business.

Internal Marketing. It is often said that a client or customer loves the storeowner but can't stand dealing with staff, or vice versa. The look of the office from the moment a customer gets out of their car, is marketing. Perception is everything. Take time to look through the eyes of the customer and what they experience when they first walk into your facility. How are they greeted? What do they see? What first impression are you making? Do you need to make adjustments here?

External Marketing. Next, take time to understand how you project your business through external, market-facing channels. Advertising, websites, billboards, Facebook and other social media channels and even community events are all forms of external marketing. Customer attraction and retention must be a constant focus for the health of a business. You need to be aware of how you are getting your new customers based upon what you are doing and determine the return on investment for everything you do. At the same time, have a method for customers to let you know if their experience in your office did not meet their expectations. A feedback loop is important for longevity.

2. Communication. We all know how to talk, but do we all know how to communicate? Effective communication is much more than merely transferring information, and whether in written, verbal or visual form, it's critical to the success of your business.

Written communication includes not only formal contracts or return policies, but also, offer letters for hiring, performance reviews and counseling memos. Additionally, the written processes mentioned above have a strong value in their ability to thwart any barriers from providing excellent customer service. Anything that is discussed outside of the normal business processes should be documented to protect the business owner and the employee or customer.

Verbal communication helps the team understand the vision of the business and what the owner expects of their participation as an employee. Team meetings are the time to review processes to ensure that everyone is completing tasks the same way. This keeps everyone on the same page.

Communications with customers are just as important to document to avoid a "he said/ she said" type of situation. If a promise is made, it should be written down. The No. 1 one frustration in most businesses is the lack of communication. This frustration can lead to good employees leaving or poor performance due to not understanding the role.

PCT returns on Monday with more ways to make your business a success.

Source: Janice Janssen, RDH, CFE, is the co-founder of Global Team Solutions (GTS), business consultant and a highly-regarded professional speaker. Her expertise in office management solutions makes her an asset to her clients across the country. Janssen is the current treasurer of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants (ADMC), and is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson