While the Colorado Springs economy is looking to be on the rise, it’s still crucial fort small businesses to be hyper-vigilant about their customer service, marketing mixes and efficiencies in order to establish a strong foundation for future success.
Taking a page from successful small businesses — and there are many in Colorado Springs, making it no surprise that last year, the city was named the third-best place to start a small company — several steps are critical that you can take to improve operations and build the bottom line.
• Provide exceptional service. It’s a basic rule of business, but making customer service a living and breathing part of your business and going out of your way to treat people exceptionally brings great rewards. If you provide a special personal touch, move swiftly to address changing market demands and respond quickly to your customers’ needs, your business will stand out from the competition.
• Build an online presence. Three-quarters of the U.S. population uses the Internet, many of whom rely on it for researching information. Equally compelling, seven out of 10 Internet users shop online. Not having a website or email address can be a liability. Knowing this, the question is: How can you afford not to have a website?
• Take advantage of resources. There are numerous resources available in the Colorado Springs area to help you maximize your start-up or small business. The Small Business Development Center of Colorado Springs, the Colorado Springs Chamber and Support Small Business Colorado, to name a few, are all here to help you succeed.
• Be prepared for growth. You might be small now, but it’s wise to prepare for success by choosing office spaces and other services that are scalable. We see quick growth often in our Colorado customers, for example, which is why Comcast offers Metro Ethernet. Metro Ethernet allows companies to quickly and easily double their bandwidth without doubling their costs, which in turn helps our small business customers’ budgets go further and helps them stay connected to their customers, suppliers, and remote sites as they grow. Look for other companies that offer similar solutions that accommodate growth.
• Recognize your strengths, weaknesses and build a network to compensate. As a small business person, you’re a rainmaker, idea generator and decision maker. To bring new ideas to the table, consider an advisory board who can counsel you on critical issues. Your informal board of directors can help you navigate difficult circumstances, be an honest voice, support you as you take a leap to the next level or just be a sounding board. The most effective advisory board will be a group of professionals who bring a wide range of skills, experience and diversity to your company. Don’t forget to reciprocate and offer your time and expertise to others.
• Establish strategic alliances. One of the fastest-growing trends today is the increasing number of strategic alliances that are being forged. Strategic alliances are a way to work with others toward a common goal while not losing individuality. Strategic alliances increase market penetration, enhance competitiveness, boost marketability and reduce costs. Many companies participating in alliances report that has much as 18 percent of their revenues come from alliances.
• Work smarter, not harder. Finally, as a small or mid-sized business owner, your business card title might as well read president and CEO, chief financial officer, CMO, CTO and executive assistant. From top to bottom, you have your eye on all facets of the business. As your business grows, you’ll need to look hard at where you spend your time. Increasing trust in those you hire and learning when to outsource can have a powerful impact on your bottom line.
Growing your business to its full potential is a process that takes time and dedication. But it’s well worth it. By having a laser-like focus on these few key areas, you can drive profitable growth and achieve big success in the years ahead.
Shawn Adamson is vice president of business services for Comcast Colorado.