Small Business Services Matter

Find and develop the right team of service providers

Finding Providers That Fit the Bill – Building Your Team of Small Business Services

If you are a small or medium sized business you will have certain pressure points somewhere in your business.  What does it mean to have a pressure point?  It looks like this: one or more areas of your business that is just not working as well as the rest of your business.  Sound familiar?  Can you name your pressure points?  It happens even to the best of businesses.

If you were able to name your pressure points then you are halfway there to getting them resolved.  For many businesses, just identifying these pressure points is the hard part.  Weaknesses in your business may hold it back, and sometimes just getting a weaker area stronger can accelerate growth beyond your imagination!

It all begins by thinking about what you don’t know.  

Often we don’t know what we don’t know, so start to think about the things you haven’t thought about yet.  Perhaps it is a problem that keeps reoccurring, a lack of new business growth, inventory issues that result in lost sales, and so on.  It is these areas that you may need help from small business services in order to fill the gap.

Here are the most common areas of businesses that often become weaker than the rest of the business.  Each of these can be resolved by working with a specialist who is experienced in providing small business services.

  • Buying the right products
    Do you have the right vendors for your product inventory?  Sometimes you can choose the wrong vendor for your products resulting in poorer sales.  Poor quality products, or overpriced priced products are the most common signs that you may need to switch vendors.
  • Distributing your products in the broadest way
    How do you sell your products?  Are you getting the greatest reach for your business?  Even if you are a small business you can expand your reach in a variety of ways, including via an eCommerce website, or by adding a distribution of resellers.
  • Selecting and installing new technology
    You may be using outdated technology.  Improvement to technology is happening quickly, and after even a few years you may have some technology already out-of-date.  Keeping your systems updated to support the new ways your customers find you is another way to grow faster, such as with small business marketing tools.
  • Ensuring that your processes are running optimally
    Slow processes can hurt or at least hinder a business.  On the other hand, computer systems often take unnecessary manual labor out of your processes to ensure much greater efficiencies so that you can do more business with the same number of staff.  An example is payment service providers; that is, can they provide you with a lower cost payment processing solution.
  • Making sure that your computer systems are well maintained
    Today small and medium businesses are using more technology than in the past.  Keeping these systems updated and your data backed up is important just in case something goes wrong; and eventually it just might!
  • Having ready a temp agency to get temporary people fast
    There is nothing worse than finding that you are short staff.  Regular employees have lives and sometimes it gets in the way of time commitments at work.  Having a way to fill roles quickly when you need temporary staff is critical to sustainment of your business.
  • Building relationships with key consultants
    Are you ready to cut a big deal?  Do you need to get more customers?  Do you have enough leads?  When you are not meeting your growth expectations, you may need outside help to get fresh ideas and services to get what you need.  Having marketing, legal, and even sales expertise ready when you need it is a great way to fill these need quickly.
  • Knowing where to get data when you need answers fast
    There are many times in the course of running a business where you need data to make a decision.  It might be a decision about your customer’s interest, or buying patterns.  Or perhaps you need legal or market information to make a business decision.  Where do you get this data when you need it?

These are common gaps in small and medium businesses that occur regularly.  They may be similar to the issues you are currently having, or perhaps you don’t have any gaps now, but you are smart enough to know that you will at some point down the road.

Do you know a specialist or firm to contact when you have a weakness?

If you don’t, then it is time to build relationships with the people and companies you may need to call upon. There are “people” service providers, temp agencies, or crowdsourcing firms like Upwork to get specific work done can help the bottomline.  You can also pre-arrange agreements with information service provider for decision-making, compliance and other similar data information needs.  Perhaps you need marketing services for campaign design, or marketing consultants to decide which campaigns to run.  Having these firms ready and knowledgeable about your business will save you time and money when you actually need them.

Here are some tips for selecting the right mix of small business services:

  • Talk to 2 or 3 providers at least before you establish an agreement.
  • Get references, and also try to get a blind reference if you can find another customer of theirs.
  • Once you’ve decided on a provider, make sure they’re knowledgeable about your business and your business plans so that when you need them they are already up-and-running.
  • Ask the provider for advice on what they could do for you before they are needed on a real project.
  • Have the provider review of your current processes so that they can make recommendations for your consideration.
  • Set goals (numbers) of what kind of results you can expect from their services; in other words, what does success look like if they performed the services.
  • And above all, avoid finding a provider in an emergency!

Lastly, you need value from your small business services.  Make sure you measure the return on investment against the cost of the service to make sure that they are truly helping you grow your business.  You should get at least a 2 to 1 return on investment (hint… the goal should be a 10 to 1 return!)

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