The life of an entrepreneur isn’t always easy. You have to juggle multiple hats, figure out if your decisions were the right ones and make adjustments on the fly. You’ll face many challenges on your way to success.
The pandemic economy created many new entrepreneurs. People were either inspired or forced to begin their own companies and adjust to a changing world.
The United States Census Bureau reported an increase of 51% of new business ventures in 2020 and 2021, with 4.4 million new ones started in 2020 alone. Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or you’ve been in the industry for decades, there are six essential questions you should ask every year.
Every year, you should take the time to reflect on what’s working to help grow your business, keep your customers happy and retain the best employees. What are the programs and actions helping grow your brand?
Dig into marketing statistics and figure out which advertising strategies had the best return on investment (ROI). Did you implement any new programs that were highly successful? Repeat the things working well for your business.
On the flip side, you must also ask what didn’t work and remove the failures. If you instituted a new employee policy and lost three of your top performers, nix the program. If you spent a ton on digital ads without a significant ROI, move those funds elsewhere.
Knowing your industry inside and out is a vital part of staying competitive. What type of education you need depends on your business niche.
For example, getting a masters in business administration can take your career to the next level and result in higher pay and more opportunities. But, do you really need an MBA to run a successful business?
Your time might be better spent learning how to operate a new technology, honing in on a special skill such as marketing or even just getting a business mentor. Know what would take your brand to the next level and go after the expertise needed to get there.
Realistically, you can only be good at a handful of things. If you try to stretch your company too thin, you risk not being excellent at anything. Harvard Business Review, estimates the average entrepreneur can handle two tasks at a time or solve two problems at once. If you’re taking on more than that, you either must delegate or cut out some of your services.
Think about your unique value proposition (UVP) for your brand. What do you excel at that your competitors don’t? Hone in on being the absolute best you can be in your UVP and let some other things go. You might not have the cheapest prices, but you have the fastest and friendliest service.
In any organization, there are always troublemakers. Do you have an employee in constant conflict with other workers? Do they intentionally sabotage projects to get back at someone? Although it’s hard to let someone go when you’ve invested in their training, it might be time to cut troublemakers loose for the sake of keeping your excellent staff members.
Ideally, you could work with anyone not quite fitting in and help them find their groove. Unfortunately, all your efforts may not work if the person is resistant to change.
You can only effectively serve so many clients and if some are taking up the majority of your time, not paying their invoices, or abusing your employees, it may be time to sever the relationship.
Ending a business contract is never fun, but you may have to lose a few people to grow to the next level. If you’re spending all your time holding the hand of one particular person, even if they are as nice as Grandma’s apple pie, then you may need to release them to make room for new clients.
Take a look at your client list each year and assess who is using most of your resources. Is the income they generate equal to the time spent coddling them or would you be able to serve three easy clients in the same time and increase revenue?
Insurance costs vary based on your particular business assets, how many employees you have and the risk involved in what you do. For example, a construction company may pay out more than someone with an e-commerce store and one employee. On average general liability insurance runs about $53 per month, commercial auto insurance $187 per month and business owners policy $84 per month.
Review your policy at least annually to ensure you have enough to cover any catastrophic losses. You may find you no longer need some things, while you should add others. Don’t forget natural disaster coverage for tornadoes, floods, fire, or other losses.
You may also want to gather quotes from various providers if your policy costs more than you think it should. If your payment doesn’t align with national standards, shop around. Just make sure you compare coverage to ensure you have enough with a new policy.
Although it’s a good idea to set a date and ask yourself some key questions annually, ideally you’ll ask questions throughout the year. However, all entrepreneurs should keep a finger on the pulse of their business. Try to correct mistakes before they become detrimental to your business.
Author Bio: Eleanor Hecks is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She’s also a freelance web designer with a focus on user experience and lives in Philly with her husband and dog, Bear