As small business accounting specialists, we have noticed that successful small businesses have certain things in common.  So if you want to ensure your business is a success, here are eight characteristics that can assist you.

1.    Owners leading by example

The owner or manager leads by example.  He or she is usually the first to arrive and the last to leave.  They know everyone by name and their presence is obvious.  They show a strong commitment, setting the standard in their work.  This commitment should be easy to understand; after all, if they don’t work hard in their own company, how can they expect any one else to take their business seriously?

2.   Simple business structure

They operate a simple and open business structure, facilitating easy communication between them and their employees.  They value the contribution of each employee, many of whom are given the opportunity to influence aspects of the business that would ordinarily be denied them in a large hierarchical company.

3.   Information sharing with employees

Information sharing, common goals, problems and concerns are discussed openly with staff.  Feedback is encouraged and staff are asked to contribute their own ideas for making improvements and overcoming difficulties.  It is often this aspect of open communication that staff appreciate the most; after all, they have a vested interest in the business.

4.   Staff are carefully chosen

Staff are recruited very carefully, because the owner(s) recognise they are the lifeblood of any small business. Staff are hired on the basis that their knowledge, skills and abilities will be beneficial to the business rather than because of friendships or family relationships.  Staff are not only carefully chosen but are nurtured and trained so that both they and the business get the maximum benefit possible from the relationship.

5.   Staff commitment and loyalty

When staff commitment and loyalty shows in their performance, they should be rewarded with praise, extra responsibility and money — poor performance is not.  Consistently poor workers should be removed as they upset the balance of things.  Businesses whose staff show optimum commitment and loyalty have a source of competitive advantage that is hard to copy or to beat.

6.   Unique products or services

Most successful businesses have unique products or services, such as their own designs, products, systems or some other aspect which sets them apart. This uniqueness is an important source of competitive advantage and one which many companies work hard to sustain, adapting and innovating their products or services as their competition catches up with them.

7.   Specific customer focus

Successful small businesses have a specific focus on supplying their customers with exactly what they want. This focus means adopting a market led approach, with the owners and their managers consistently looking for ways to solve their customers’ problems and improve their products to match requirements.

8.   Prompt follow up

On occasions when an enquiry or complaint is received, successful small businesses actively follow up and solve them as quickly as possible. The results are promptly reported back to the customer and, in the case of complaints, measures put in place to reduce the likelihood of similar issues reoccurring. Successful small businesses view complaints and problems as opportunities for growth and improvement.

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