Q: My retail business has reached a plateau and I have run out of ideas how to take it to the next level. Any suggestions?
A: Just as the advent of a new year makes for an excuse to lose 10 pounds or put more money into savings, so too is it a good time for the small business owner or manager to take stock of where you are and where you want to be this time next year.
Begin by revisiting your written business plan. If you don't have one you can find a free outline by visiting the SCORE website http://tinyurl.com/3qjwhza. The business plan is your step-by-step guide to achieving your goals. Goals should meet three criteria:
Goals should be specific – It is not good enough to establish a goal of 10 percent increased sales unless there is a commensurate increase in net profits. Specific goals would include what you wish to accomplish, what and who will be involved in the process, and a time table for completion.
Goals should be measurable – Break down the process into specific tasks, determine who will carry out the assignments, and set a completion date for each task. Review progress on a regular basis to ensure good people stay focused.
Goals should be attainable – As an example, it would not be realistic to set as a goal a ten percent increase in sales if your current staff is already working to capacity. In this instance you would have to hire more people which would increase your overhead. A better strategy would be to assess your costs and methods of delivery to determine if there are savings to be had.
Take a hard look at where the majority of your profits come from. In a retail business there are some items that generate greater profit margins. While in a service business it is not uncommon to find that twenty percent of your customers account for seventy percent of your revenue. Eliminate the low margin items and strive to develop more high volume customers.
Writing down your goals and how you intend to accomplish them will create a roadmap to success. You may incur some bumps in the road, but view these as learning experiences for mistakes you will avoid in the future.
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Counselors assist and offer advice concerning management issues facing your small business. Counseling is free to all U.S. citizens and legal aliens. To register call 239-430-0081 or visit http://naples.score.org/mentors.
If you would like an answer to your question, fill out the form at http://naples.score.org/mentoring/request/0/8977. A counselor will contact you within 48 hours. Please include your name, email address and a contact phone number.