How to succeed in running absentee business


Small business owners run their business absentee for variety of reasons. Some owners are still holding full-time job while starting a business. Others have more locations than they can handle themselves. While still others just don’t want to spend their entire time on the business. Our estimate is that while majority of small businesses are owner operated, there are number of businesses that are run absentee for the reasons mentioned above.
While it is possible to run and succeed in absentee owner business you need to be aware of the problems that arise when you are doing so. Ignoring these problems can lead to deterioration and even disaster for your business. The most common issue in running the business absentee is that you may not be aware of what’s going on with your business or at least not to the same degree as when you are present 24×7. Even if you come to know about the issues it may be too late to act on. The issues can surface in all areas of the business ranging from operations, quality, purchasing and customer service.
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How to Succeed in Starting a Business while Holding Full-time Job


Contrary to beliefs held by some people it is possible to start a business while still working on your job. Many people want to hold onto their current job for as long as possible for reasons cited in this post ; while they are starting business.
While it is not easy to start a business while still working on full-time job; there are ways by which you can succeed as long as you know what you are getting into and take care of important issues that will inevitably surface. In our view, the key to success is making sure you have laid proper groundwork to operate the business in your absence; while still keep a watchful eye on it.
Below we have highlighted several suggestions you can follow to be successful.
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Use S.M.A.R.T. Technique to Achieve your Small Business Goals


The majority of goals set by people are never fulfilled or at least fall short. If you want the proof; go and check out health clubs in the first 2-3 weeks after New Year. They are so crowded by the people who have made resolution to lose weight, that it is difficult to find free exercise equipment. And then the crowd fizzles out after 3 weeks and only the regulars keep coming.
The reasons majority of goals go unfulfilled are multiple – they are too vague or too difficult or they don’t have any time limit. Because of this, people setting the goals either don’t know how to achieve them or they give up thinking they can never fulfill them.
We came across the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting technique a while ago that can help anyone achieve what they want in a reasonable time period. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Essentially S.M.A.R.T. goal setting ensures that you know what you want to achieve, how to achieve it and when to take actions. Below are the details on how to go about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.
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10 Questions to Ask Customers to Get Them Talking


In the previous post we mentioned that you need to hear customer and employee stories in addition to looking at formal reports and metrics.
One of the ways you can do this is by asking open ended questions to your customers, employees and other business owners to understand the reasons behind numbers. Below we have identified 10 questions that will get them talking.
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Improve Your Business by Listening to Customer Stories


In the previous several posts here , here and here we have discussed how looking at performance metrics helps understand how your business is performing. We also mentioned that you should be looking at the reports on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to stay on top of your business.
The reason you want to look at the metrics is simple – numbers don’t lie; people do. However, from our experience as past business owners we have noticed that numbers tell only part of the story when trying to assess business performance. The metrics tell you what is happening to the business. They don’t tell you why. You have to dig deeper to understand why the numbers are what they are. For example, let’s say you are looking at sales going down for the last several weeks. You want know why this is happening. Further investigation shows that the customer count has been declining in that same period. But this still doesn’t tell you why customers are not coming to your business leading to declining sales. It may be because they are not being served well; maybe there is another competitor in town and so on.
So how do you go about collecting the anecdotal stories to understand the reasons behind the numbers? There are several ways you can do this.
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Key Performance Metrics for Hotels and Services Business


In the previous blog post we indicated that many types of small businesses have “standard” set of metrics that you can use as a starting point to determine the key metrics you should track for your small business. We discussed key metrics in the retail and restaurant business in the previous post. In this post we have shown the metrics for additional businesses – hotels / motels and service businesses.
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Key Performance Metrics for Retail and Restaurants


Every small business owner needs to look at the business reports daily, weekly and monthly on a regular basis to stay up-to-date with how their business is performing. You need to understand what key performance metrics to look at in those reports. We showed how to identify and track key performance indicators in this post.
You don’t have to start from zero when looking for key performance metrics for your business. Many types of small businesses have “standard” set of metrics. As a small business and franchise owner you should be aware of these metrics. In this post we will summarize the key metrics for retail businesses and fast food / restaurants.
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How to identify and track key performance indicators?


In the previous post we mentioned that many small business owners find it difficult to explain how their business is doing with the numbers backing up their words. It is even more difficult to predict how the business is going to perform few months down the road. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
By identifying and tracking few key performance indicators (KPIs) any small business owner can not only figure out how the business is performing; but also forecast where it is headed. This is no different from when the doctor checks vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, weight, etc. of the patient to find out what is wrong or could go wrong. You only need 5 or so KPIs to get a feel of the business performance.
Typically, these KPIs will be different for different industries. For example, the retail store should look at comparable sales and inventory turnover; while exercise facility would track customer turnover and average sales per customer. Most large publicly traded companies include these KPIs in their annual reports or in the financial analyst reports.
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Reports you should use to assess business performance


In the previous post we mentioned that as a small business owner you should know the key numbers of your business by heart. These key numbers provide valuable insight in your business and act as early warning indicators. Without them you may not realize if the business is heading for trouble and by the time you do it may be too late.
We also advise you to spare some time from daily operations and spend 15 minutes daily and several hours weekly and monthly to go over the reports that show how your business is performing. In this post we will provide more details about these reports and what you should look for in them.
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Do you know Why your Customers are Dumping you?


If history is any guide; you will lose about 20% of your current customers by the end of the month and 40% by the end of the year. I know it sounds terrible; but that’s fact of life. While 30-40% of sales for any business come from existing customers; the rest comes from customers using revolving door. They will come and go for a variety of reasons.
This customer churn can be costly for your business. You need to constantly recruit new customers to fill the gap left by those customers who have dumped you. This costs money reducing your profit. It is said that it is 4 times more expensive to get new customer compared to retaining the existing one. We will look at the ways to stop customers from dumping you in a later post; but let’s understand why they leave you in the first place. The reasons are quite varied and some are easier to correct than others.
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