There are a number of things that small business owners have to be concerned about these days; cybersecurity, social media marketing, finding employees, competing with the big box stores and the list goes on. It can seem a bit overwhelming for sure. While these things are all important, I believe there are a couple of fundamental issues that if we don’t get them right, the rest of these concerns ultimately won’t matter. I’m referring to every business owner’s top two priorities: taking care of customers and paying attention to the financial aspects of the business.

Customer Service

It seems that customer service is something we can all do better, but in this era of so many choices — both brick-and-mortar and online — we need to stand out in some way and outstanding customer service by our staff is one way to do that. Most of the business owners I talk to believe that their folks provide outstanding service, or at least they say that in their marketing materials. The reality is that some do, but most do not. With social media and online review sites like Google, Yelp and Trip Advisor, it is very easy for someone that doesn’t have a good experience to post about it in a way that has a negative impact on your business. Changing this starts with you, the owner. Set expectations and an example by providing good service yourself!

Financial Aspects

The second item, not paying attention to the financial aspects of the business, is the biggest reason for business struggles or failures. I get it that you likely didn’t go into business to be a bookkeeper, but as an owner you never get to take off the financial hat. Even though you may delegate the record keeping duties, you still need to obtain accurate and timely financial information and use it to make sound business decisions. By financial information, I mean both a Profit & Loss Statement and a Balance Sheet. If you don’t know what either of these are, we need to talk!

Help is Available

Training yourself and your staff on these two topics will be well worth the time and any monetary investment. For many Wyoming businesses, now is a great time to do that before the summer tourism season hits. The Wyoming SBDC Network provides no-cost, confidential services such as one-on-one guidance, online or face-to-face classes and access to other training possibilities. Contact your local advisor today.

About the author: Bruce Morse is the Northwest Regional Director for the Wyoming SBDC Network.  He has a bachelor’s degree in Business Finance with a minor in Marketing from Montana State University-Bozeman.  A former banker and Economic Development Finance Professional, Bruce specializes in assisting clients with all things numbers: loan applications, financial analysis, business planning and projections, and crowdfunding ideas. When he’s not in the office, Bruce loves travel, good food, and an occasional round of golf!

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