You’re running a small business. You’ve hired your sales team, marketing team and have a dedicated group of executives ready to do what it takes to make this company successful. One problem – there is too much to do!
Your mountain of tasks has you asking yourself: What should I be focusing on? What are we spending? Do we have enough money? When do we need to pay our employees? Who is our primary audience? If this seems overwhelming, just know that there are plenty of others that can relate, especially someone like John Delbridge.
Delbridge is one of the founding members of Mimeo. After serving as a Chief Administrative Officer at Salomon Brothers for six years, he decided to take the CFO and President roles at Mimeo to help get the company off the ground.
In a recent interview, Delbridge (now CEO at Mimeo) provides advice from this time in his life. As a co-founder, he thinks back to the early days of Mimeo to reflect on his decisions and what he might have done differently. With over 20 years of experience, Delbridge remembers what it was like to run a small business and what must be done to help them grow. Here are his 5 biggest tips:
Find Value in the Right Areas
Success is accomplished by finding value in the right places. In our interview, Delbridge described a Mimeo salesman from years ago that was bringing in sales revenue, but would never leave his desk to go on visits.
As CFO at the time, Delbridge became interested in how this was possible. After asking the salesman how he was able to pull this off, he discovered that the salesman was simply calling customers instead of visiting them in order to reach more prospects and save time.
Delbridge found this to be a genius idea and restructured Mimeo’s sales department. The value that came from direct sales calls helped grow their business as a result. The lesson here is to find which processes are providing your business and use them to power your mission.
Focus Your Sales Team
Small businesses have a tendency to keep all doors open when it comes to sales. Limiting your business to one segment can seem like a bad idea, especially when there are potentially big opportunities you feel are being ignored.
After seeing what Mimeo went through in its early years, Delbridge believes focusing your sales team on one segment can be a good thing. Sure there is risk, but even the smallest areas can see large revenue.
“You feel like you’re eliminating 90% of the world, but in reality, 10% could still be a $300 million business,” said Delbridge. Take his advice and start zeroing in on your target audience. Gaining their business will help grow yours.
Be Smart with Your Marketing
A natural response to growing a business is to start marketing and create relationships with your target audience. As well-meaning as this is, Delbridge recommends that small businesses should pump the breaks on marketing, at least at the beginning.
Using Mimeo as an example, Delbridge realized early on that the company was spending hundreds of thousands a month on marketing agency tasks. For a small business, this amount of costs can spell disaster. Before getting carried away, try creating a budget for your marketing department and keep track of costs. This will help prevent any unnecessary spending.
Do One Thing Really Well
Instead of attempting to provide a variety of products or services, Delbridge says to try putting your resources into one excellent product or service that can help your customers. There are needs everywhere, but it’s up to you to determine which need your business intends to fill.
For small businesses, this should be determined immediately. The sooner you determine the product or service you will use to fill a need, the quicker you can reach new customers.
Create for the Short-Term
Focusing on long-term projects (ex: redesigning a website) can seem like a good idea for small businesses, but they actually prove to be less valuable from a customer standpoint.
Delbridge says focusing on the creation of features that provide value to your customers in the short-term is better than rebuilding something that already exists. The reasoning here is that the value of a rebuild could be several years away from the time you start.
On the other hand, short-term features created every few weeks or months can be made available quicker to customers and offer value in the immediate future. Putting new features in their hands can make your product or service easier to use and offer a better customer experience.
The challenges facing a small business can sometimes seem insurmountable, but following these tips can put you on the fast track to growth in the long-term. Using this advice, you can start trying new initiatives that provide value to your customers and keep your business operating efficiently.
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