Being a small business in the United States is hard work. No matter what gets in your way, you and your employees are everything you have.Some factors are beyond your control and may make the brass ring harder to grasp. The Allstate / USA TODAY Small Business Barometer 2017, a study that combines federal data with a national survey of nearly 2,800 small business owners, notes that the ease with which small businesses receive the raw materials they need has declined significantly since 2016. Barometer release. At the same time, unemployment is continuing to decline, which means more people find a job – a good thing for the economy, but also a reason why hiring good people is a challenge at the moment.
Despite this headwind, the country's small business owners are incredibly optimistic about the future, with 92 out of 100 nationwide optimism in the Allstate / USA TODAY Barometer. Seattle is not far behind with 88.
So what is the secret for the success of small businesses? 48-year-old Seattle entrepreneur Paul Vogel, owner of an Allstate Insurance Agency with offices in the University District, says small businesses are improving their chances by combining these five things:
- Adapt to changing environments and demographics. Technology, neighborhoods and the tastes and needs of people are changing. Your business should roll over time, Vogel said.
- With more skyscrapers and condominiums in the areas served by it, ie with fewer cars, Vogel has adapted to the entire state by marketing the car insurance. He also changed his product for residents who have cars, and provides protection against incidents in parking garages and parking lots and not at driveways.
- Participate in the community. Among the best things you can do to gain the trust of your neighbors and visibility to your business are volunteering for local charities and contributing to local causes. Vogel trains little league baseball, football and basketball, and volunteers for Scouts and local Rotary clubs. "When we're in the community, we can really connect with people who could use our services," he said.
- Hire the right people. Whether it's friends, colleagues in your industry, or even the competition, you're trying to get referrals for new people from people you know and trust, said Vogel. Submit the job description and tell the person you are looking for. Since these contacts know your business well and have probably checked who you contacted, a referral is more likely to be a person who performs well and is connected with you, your employees and your customers.
- Build relationships with customers. You build loyalty and trust in your products or services. Vogel and his colleagues talk on the phone to meet their customers, while other small businesses he knows host customer appreciation events such as barbeques and picnics, or mingle with their clients at community events.
- Know the location of the country. Keep abreast of city administration programs and policies that impact your industry to ensure your business has everything it needs to succeed. Many communities have email alerts that you can sign up for. When Vogel submits his tax returns each year, he makes a habit of checking with the city council to see if the insurance commission's laws have changed. Vogel emphasizes that a successful small business is not only measured by company profits, the number of loyal customers and the reputation of names. It is also measured by the quality of life that you and your employees enjoy.
"When I started my career, I never thought I'd employ half a dozen people, as I do now," Vogel said. "I want my business to be successful so that I can give the people who work for me the opportunity to buy homes and have families and also have the opportunity to spend time with their families – as if they were people who work with me, even self-employed. "
Thunderbird School of Global Management Alumna Dana Manciagli & # 39; 84 is the author of "Cut the Crap, Get a job". With her "Career Mojo" column, Dana is the only syndicated business journal columnist across the country. Her remarkable profile includes a career in worldwide sales and marketing for Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft, IBM and Kodak. She has coached, interviewed and hired thousands of jobseekers. This article was originally published on their website.
(This article is an excerpt from the latest issue of ForbesLife India, July-August 2016, which is now available at newsstands and bookstores.) You can buy our tablet version at Magzter.com)