This interesting article from Inc.com analyses the results of a survey of small business owners.
Respondents reflect on the challenges of 2012 and define their resolutions for 2013.
When asked what their best ideas were in 2012, they said:
1. Deciding on the right focus. Identifying the best and most profitable customers, and learning to say no to the non-profitable ones.
2. Using new products, services, and technology to increase efficiency and productivity. Some mentioned online payroll; a dentist talked about using an iPad to show patients close-up pictures of their teeth.
3. Investing in current staff. A number of small business owners talked about training and educating their employees, as well as better communicating with them to make them feel more a part of the company.
When asked their 2013 resolutions for business, here’s what topped their lists:
1. Cutting costs to increase profits.
2. Growing the client base.
3. Finding a marketing strategy that works.
Increasing efficiency through technology and finding the most profitable customers are the ideas generated as a consequence of a tough year; as well as investing in existing staff.
Staff who feel connected, valued and invested in an organisation are less likely to resign and, consequently, cost a company thousands in recruitment and re-training costs.
I was speaking to a friend who had experience (as a consultant) with two different companies of the same size and in the same sector. To cut costs Company A took the approach of simply firing a percentage of staff; Company B, on the other hand, offered all current staff part-time work or the opportunity to job-share.
I’m no HR expert but the second approach just makes sense.
Not only are you retaining the investment you have made in these staff through recruitment and training but when the market picks up you won’t need to undergo the costly recruitment process.
The value of the knowledge staff hold cannot be underestimated. Collectively their days, months and years on the job have given them an intimate knowledge of procedures, processes and products, without which organisations collapse.
From a marketing perspective cutting staff can be a PR disaster. It generates negative sentiment in the marketplace and, if like me, you work in a small town, can lead to customer boycotts.
If you appear to be doing the best for your staff, you’re doing your best for the community.
What cost-cutting will you be undertaking in 2013? Me? Well, as a soloist, I certainly won’t be firing anyone but technological efficiency has my name on it!