Are you an apprehensive business owner?

Surf Google News for the key word “profits” and you’ll see there are many articles about companies making money.

You, too, can get a competitive edge and overcome economic uncertainty by increasing sales and improving efficiencies.

Here are seven quick tips to get a competitive edge:

Retain your best employees. Employees with the best potential quit when they don’t feel valued for several possible reasons: Lack of career opportunities, chilled relationships with their bosses unhappiness over wages, health care benefits, and flexibility in work schedules.

So, money is not always the main issue. Workers feel more appreciated when they are engaged with periodic positive communication.

This includes giving workers a sense of control over their careers and explaining possible options for professional growth.

You want employees who will push you up the ladder. Here’s more on how not to worry about keeping your top employees.

Planning. The biggest misstep for small business owners is failing to plan for the big picture. They’re so busy with daily emergencies that they don’t believe they have time for planning. They see such time as a luxury.

The solution is simply to budget the time in order to strategize specific actions and timelines. An old-fashioned SWOT analysis – evaluating your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – will help you create a strategic plan. Also consider 10 basic tips — leadership for business profit.

Entrepreneurs can’t afford not to take the time to plan. That includes determining your break-even point. And remember backup options and equipment are needed for contingencies.

Pricing. The tendency now is to slash prices. However, small business owners needn’t give away their power to the big chains by price-cutting. Here are the eight simple strategies to give you pricing power.

People appreciate outstanding customer service. For most products and services, price isn’t the most important concern for about 80 percent of all consumers.

Customers are like employees – they want to feel special.

Daily prospecting and marketing. Solicit “centers of influence” or strategic partners to attract customers. Look for opportunities to obtain publicity. Advertise to remain in contact with customers and prospects. Use the marketing plan essentials for best results.

Sales follow-up, with phone calls, personal visits and note cards will pay dividends. Don’t forget to ask for at least two referrals from each satisfied customer.

For most small businesses, job one for the boss is contacting customers and prospects. If you’re fortunate to have sales reps, each should contact 15 prospects per day— in-person, as much as possible.

Delegating. Most struggling entrepreneurs usually fail to delegate. You’ll grow by learning to delegate. Good employees appreciate opportunities for teamwork and to make contributions to the business.

A smart boss knows how expensive it is not to delegate. Here are the eight best practices in employee delegation.

Operations and procedures. Develop formal procedures along with checks and balances. To ensure standards of excellence, make certain that you and employees adhere to policies from bookkeeping to operations. Use the mannagement best-practices in solid operations checklists.

This way, there will be no glitches in your receivables. Like you, your customers don’t like surprises either.

Other professional relationships. When you’re able, get proper financing and make sure you have a plan to repay funds. Additionally, develop a rapport with a bank manager, good accountant, lawyer and insurance agent.

The secrets to getting a competitive edge in small business are planning and execution. As a result, a third dynamic, also known as luck, will mysteriously appear from seemingly nowhere to benefit your company.

I love this quote by chemist Louis Pasteur: “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

From the Coach’s Corner, if you’re really in trouble, see how to overcome obstacles for a business turnaround using 13 steps. Like great football teams at halftime, good entrepreneurs adjust quickly to fast-changing conditions.

At the end of every day, do a report card. Review the events affecting your business as well as your response to each situation. Evaluate how you performed and how to move your business forward. Then, take the night off, especially after your daily assessment on a bad-hair day.

And tomorrow – keep on trying. Don’t give up.

“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.” 

-Henry Ford 


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.