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Four simple development tips for small business owners

Many small business owners find the tasks associated with running the firm can eat up every minute of the working week, leaving very little time for their own professional development.

Encouraging new competences amongst employees might be part of the day job, but if business owners neglect their own skills and knowledge it can start to impact how their firm operates and its long-term prospects for success.

Often bosses blame a lack of time, but for the small business owner it’s important to make time for learning and development – after all, who else is going to push the business forward?

The knowledge needed to improve your business needn’t be difficult to gather nor time-consuming to put into action. Here are a few key areas where a little learning could help your business:

Knowledge is power

How much do you know about your customers? What are their buying habits? When do they buy? What do they buy? Do you know the reasons why they seek out your business over others?
Gathering even the simplest data on your customers can help you see your business differently. The reasons you think people buy from you might well be different from why they actually do, but until you ask, you’ll never know. Understanding how to gather simple data could shed a whole new light on how your business really operates.

Planning for growth

What do you want your business to look like in three years? Or five? Or ten? For many small businesses growth can be unexpected pleasure, but not all are equipped to make the most of the opportunity. It’s important, therefore, for you to think about the equipment, skills, and staff you could need if your business takes off. Leaning about how to make your firm scalable, the targets you need to set, and the financial implications can be vital for achieving sustained growth.

Simple marketing

 Many small firms rely on word of mouth or repeat custom for their business, but what about trying some simple marketing? It works, you know. Even basic measures can bring in new customers and encourage your regulars to use you more frequently. How about sending a weekly or fortnightly email to tell contacts what you’re up to? Or starting a blog or using social media to post updates?

Seeking out advice on the simple and cost-effective things you could do to tell more people about your business can be the first step to really embracing marketing as a vital part of your operation.

Cyber security

Cyberattacks might seem like an arbitrary and unrelated concern, but for many small businesses the threat is real. Just consider this for a second: what would happen if all of your computers were taken over and you lost control and access? What would happen if all your customer data, business information, and banking details were accessible?

Fortunately, most cyberattacks can be prevented by putting in place a few quick and simple safeguards. The trick is to first understand your vulnerability and then act on it.

Oliver Luft is a business journalist and content projects manager of FSB’s First Voice magazine.

Keep an eye on FSB’s First Voice for more valuable business advice.