It’s a tricky business this owning a company lark.
Keeping up with your competitors and struggling to find and retain staff, all the while striving to make ample profit to cover ever increasing costs, is enough to turn even a no-nonsense business owner into a quivering wreck as their firm gradually falls to pieces.
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone, buddy.
Take start-ups, for example – they’re the lifeblood of every modern economy, but as many as one in three will fail within the first three years, crashing and burning faster than a paper aeroplane soaked in kerosene.
Of course, the reasons for this startling failure rate are manifold – but for every fledgling business that implodes, two will make it past the first 36 months, eventually turning a profit and even expanding to open up new premises
But what are the secrets behind their success? Has their malevolence swelled in line with their companies’ accomplishments? Are they sleeping well at night? What rudimental features have they employed that your business hasn’t?
Well, they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so read on to find out …
Slashing Energy Bills Is a Priority
According to the Carbon Trust, electricity costs have doubled for businesses in the last 10 years, which has pushed sustainability issues, “going green”, and the need to cut energy bills to the top of the agenda for many firms.
To do this, businesses are increasingly reliant on smart metering to keep track of their energy usage, allowing them to identify areas of the building where energy is being wasted, leading to potentially huge savings.
With that in mind, there’s been a paradigm shift towards LED lighting, as it’s one of the quickest ways any company can reduce energy usage, with these thermally efficient diodes offering payback on investment within one to three years.
Tighten Security Shortcomings
Every business – whether they sell latex in Land’s End or jackets in John o’ Groats – is a potential victim of crime. Indeed, retail is particularly vulnerable, with organised criminals absolutely hammering this sector, leading to costs of £1.6bn last year.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium show that burglaries in particular increased, with a 90 per cent rise in the number of incidents, costing businesses an average of £1,730. While this is far from an exorbitant figure, it’s clearly an expense your business can do without.
For those less affected, the implementation of a security fence as a physical and visual deterrent, CCTV to capture an interloper’s ugly mug on film, alarm systems to alert the authorities, and security guards to beat up the burglar (just joking) are all vital components in the endless fight against crime.
Eradicate External Eyesores
We’ve all rolled our eyes as a bothersome television home makeover show host rabbits on about the “kerb appeal” of our homes, typically leading us to chuck the remote control at the telly before firing off a volley of abuse and heading to bed in a strop.
However, although they say you should never judge a book by its cover, these smiling sycophants are actually on to something, as the outside of your business’s premises will often shape a customer’s first impression of your company AND your ability to give them what they want.
With this in mind, it’s important to remove unsightly graffiti and other acts of vandalism, with many businesses using specialist firms to help make sure the walkway to their entrance is spotless, lest it becomes akin to a dingy subway covered in discarded chewing gum and cigarette butts.
Play the Marketing Game Properly
Booming businesses get marketing – which means if your firm is to flourish, you need to get it, too. Although search engine optimisation has the potential to flummox ham-fisted technophobes, scratching around the web will yield a smorgasbord of simple, actionable tips to get you started.
Ultimately, as a business owner, marketing is a skill you simply have to get spot on, with the continued success of your firm dependent on your ability to get in front of the right people, at the right time and with the right message.
For example, your company may offer the best underpants elastic the universe is ever likely to come across – but without marketing it properly, it won’t make a blind bit of difference to your firm’s bottom line (no pun intended).
So what’s the moral of this story?
Well, dig deep enough and there may be a moral, but by following the tips above initially, you and your business won’t be caught with your trousers around your ankles as you attempt to catch your competitors scuttling off into the distance clutching fistfuls of cash …