3 P's Drive Small Business Success in 2010What a year! For many, 2009 is a year they would like to forget. Between overleveraged mortgages, banks that failed or were too big to fail, and a restructuring of the auto industry, many individuals and businesses alike are ready to ring in 2010 with a more hopeful outlook.
In the coming months, the healthcare debate, business incentives and changes to the tax code will be at the forefront of local and national debates. Though important, these are issues in which the individual small business owner has minimal say. Instead of focusing on these larger issues, entrepreneurs should focus their efforts on enhancing small business productivity, prudence, and profit as we move into 2010.
In the last few years, many companies learned to do more with less as cuts in spending and employment left many small businesses demanding more out of their employees. In 2010, small business productivity will remain vital as employees continue to carry a heavy workload. For companies to succeed, they need to arm their employees with the right small business productivity tools.
By identifying and implementing the right small business solutions, entrepreneurs can get more out of their employees and save money. Increased productivity among full-time employees can result in more sales, the development of better products and services, faster completion of tasks, and improved customer service.
Regardless of the industry, many companies will turn to small business communication solutions that can improve productivity. For example, a doctor's office may select an Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) to more efficiently handle and direct calls during and after business hours. Companies with hourly employees, like field service repair companies, may use location-based services to track field technicians and redirect them based on cost drivers like fuel consumption. Or, many companies may look to deploy BlackBerrys to their staff to help them stay connected anytime, anywhere helping fuel better small business productivity. Finding small business solutions that improve productivity will greatly impact a bottom line.
While the economic freefall has halted and the economy even had some bright spots in 2009, most companies are not popping celebratory champagne. And as much as we'd all like to see 2010 herald a recovery of small business productivity, many economists and so-called "financial experts" are predicting only a slightly stronger economy in 2010. Next year, prudence will be the name of the game when it comes to small business solutions.
With a sharp eye on spending, small businesses will need to be prudent in their decision making and ensure they are making the right investments. Finding employees that have the right skill set, investing in developing or marketing your best product, and selecting small business solutions that will help your company grow will all demand prudence.
But this careful decision making will not only focus on spending, but on all aspects of small business productivity. Many companies may reexamine their niche market or how they "have always done things" to find new and better small business solutions. Just as Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "...a little rebellion now and then is a good thing," a shake-up of how your small business operates may be in order.
One consequence of the downturn is that many companies unfortunately closed their doors. As a result, those who survived the recession now have fewer competitors vying for customers. As the economy stabilizes, banks begin to loan more money and businesses are more comfortable with spending money, the small businesses that positioned themselves correctly will have a stronger opportunity for market penetration than they've likely seen in recent years. By making prudent decisions and focusing on driving small business productivity, companies will be well-positioned to profit in 2010 and beyond.
If the past 12 months have taught us anything, it's that no amount of economic forecasting is completely precise. But, let's all look forward to 2010 with a focus on small business productivity, prudence, and profit, as well as the promise of what a new year will bring to small businesses.
This story first appeared in Corp! magazine Dec. 3, 2009.
About the Author
Michael Perrone is vice president and general manager of Detroit operations for Cbeyond, a leading provider of voice and data packages to more than 48,000 small businesses throughout the United States. Recently named sixth on the Forbes Fast Tech list of the fastest-growing technology companies in America, Cbeyond offers more than 30 productivity-enhancing applications including local and long-distance voice, broadband Internet, mobile, BlackBerry(R), broadband laptop access, voicemail, email, web hosting, fax-to-email, data backup, file-sharing and virtual private networking. Cbeyond manages these services over a private, 100-percent Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) facilities-based network. To learn more about Cbeyond and its portfolio of small business communications and IT services, call 877-441-9783 or visit www.cbeyond.net/smb.