The 3 Obvious – but often Overlooked – ways to Grow your Business Today

Success is the study of the obvious.

~ Jim Rohn

Those who are running Small or Medium Enterprises (SMEs) know that it is challenging to keep a business running well : there seems to be a thousand factors to consider, & a thousand emergencies to handle.

Yet, amidst all this ‘noise’, it is important for business owners to step back & simplify how they view their situation.

You can make significant progress in your business by always asking this Simple & Powerful question:

“How do I Increase my Sales & reduce my Costs?”

Regardless of the industry you are in or the growth stage of your business, you will find that asking the above question will help you focus your limited time & energy on the stuff that matters.

The beauty of asking this question is that it will allow you to find your own creative solutions to Increasing Sales & Reducing Costs. You need not necessarily ask someone else to give you the answers to this question – you can begin from right where you are. After all, as the owner of your business, you know best the details of your business operations.

When we were running Samar, the Arabian-themed F&B business I was running with my brother, we often asked ourselves this very question: “How do we Increase our Sales & reduce our Costs?”

The solutions we found were never-ending! Here are some examples to give you an idea:

  • Switching to a secure Point-of-Sales system virtually eliminated the possibility of staff theft – & ramped up our sales in the following month by a good 30%!

  • We began introducing live Arabic music on weekend nights – which made our place full-house, triggered much word-of-mouth buzz & attracted media attention, including TIME Magazine itself!

  • We began offering In-House Event Catering – which became such a welcome & significant source of monthly sales.

  • We also looked carefully at our Suppliers’ Prices & decided to buy directly from shops for our F&B supplies – which shaved off costs because of better prices & reduced wastage in spoiled produce.

  • We lived by our Operations Manuals – we made sure that we specified for our staff the exact portions when making a drink or serving a dish – wastage was reduced dramatically this way. In addition, it made us less vulnerable to lost knowledge when a staff leaves.

  • etc etc etc

You get the idea.

So why not ponder over this question all the time when analysing ways to improve your business:

“How do I Increase my Sales & reduce my Costs?”

You’ll begin seeing Obvious Solutions that you might not have noticed before, I am sure.

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I would like to specifically suggest here 3 Obvious – but often Overlooked – ways to grow your business right away. These are based on observations I made in our SME Centre’s many discussions with SME owners during our Business Advisories when I was its Centre Director.

The points below are also based on what I have personally experienced as a customer.

Here they are:

★ The 3 Obvious – but often Overlooked – ways to Grow your Business Today ★

1. Make It Easy for us to Find You Online

What do you do when you are looking for information on something you just heard or read about?

The answer is obvious: these days, the first thing you’ll probably do is to google it.

Your customers (or potential customers) are the same : they’ll google your business.

So have you checked if you are easily found on Google?

Do a quick check now & google your business brand. Are you easily found in the 1st page of the Google search? If yes, great. If no, then you have to get it fixed.

And is your contact number listed there? Or are you making us write you an (inconvenient) e-mail or send a PM (Private Message)? Be bold – put your contact number there. If you’re too shy to do so, you won’t get much!

Why not do a quick check to see if your business can be easily found & contacted? Make it easy for your customers to find you – & your sales will grow.

2. Make It Easy for us to Feel Welcome

Would you go back to a business if you have been made to feel somewhat unwelcome or treated badly? I don’t think so.

Would you go back to a business if you have been treated with Respect, Warmth & Professionalism? I believe you will.

And again, the same goes to your customers.

Once, my cousin & I were exploring the many interesting shops at Joo Chiat Complex in search for an outfit. We rarely shop there, so it’s a new experience for us – & a new opportunity for the retailers there to win new customers (& their customers’ friends).

We went into a shop & started looking through the clothes on its racks. Suddenly, a sales assistant from a nearby shop appeared & insisted that we step out of the shop! She explained that the shop’s sales assistant had gone to the loo – & that it was a “rule” for customers to stand outside the shop until she returns. I felt insulted, gave feedback to the lady, walked out – & will probably not return again.

In contrast, we were treated with much warmth at 1 Market, Chef Wan’s buffet restaurant. We were greeted – many times – by the staff when we arrived & when we were leaving. Throughout our leisurely lunch, the staff who attended to us were all pleasant. It was a place with great food, great ambience, great price – & great service.

If you are able to offer Sincere Service, your sales will grow – regardless of the economic situation, I dare say.

Take an honest look at your quality of service. What can you immediately do to improve it? It doesn’t have to be complicated – it could be as simple as writing a one-page manual telling your staff what they should do from the time a customer steps in to the time the customer leaves.

3. Make It Easy for us to Pay You

You close a sale when your customer likes what you are offering & is ready to buy and ready to pay. But many SMEs fail to appreciate the value of making it easy for their customers to pay.

I wanted to subscribe to a newly-launched magazine for Muslim women. Stumbled on it when I was reading someone’s post about it. I found it online, like what it stands for, found the price to be reasonable & I was ready to make my purchase. Big Problem: it only accepts cheque payments. No online payments were offered – no Paypal, no eNETS, not even bank transfers. I gave up.

Many SMEs fail to appreciate the value of making it easy for their customers to pay.

One of my clients actively sells her products through the Singapore Expo & Geylang Hari Raya Bazaar channels. Her business has been doing very well – monthly sales are an impressive 5-figures. However, all these years she has been running her business, she has only accepted cash payments. When she took up my suggestion to get her own NETS wireless machine, her sales shot up significantly. The logic is simple: buying is mostly an emotional decision. When you are not ready although your customer is ready to pay you, letting her go so that she can return with the cash often means that you’ll lose the sale.

So take a look at your business – are you making it easy for us to pay you?

If you’re running a shop, do you accept NETS payment? Or do you accept only cash? If you’re running an online store – & this includes those who depend heavily on their Facebook Pages for sales – do you offer Paypal payments, or at least bank transfers (although this is not very efficient)?

Can you fix it quickly?

Make it easy for us to pay you & you’ll see more sales, I promise you.

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Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day;

while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.

It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either Fortune or Failure.

~ Jim Rohn

I encourage you to look at your business regularly by asking the Simple & Powerful question:

“How do I Increase my Sales & reduce my Costs?”

Decide what you want to fix & take action on these until you succeed.

Thank you for reading this Note! I hope you got some value from it.


Harasha Bafana

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