Running a business is hard.  Everywhere you look you will find articles, blogs and podcasts on what you should and should not do to be successful.  Below are some of the best business tips to know and business trips to avoid that I have found.

Tip-Stay up to date with your industry.  You cannot do this alone.  There are a multitude of resources to keep you informed about legal changes, product advancements, etc.  Sign up for newsletters that give you an at-a-glance briefing of what is going on.  Network with other contractors to find out what is happening in their area.

Trip-Trying to do everything.   Take a good look at what you are spending your time on.  Factor in the value of your time and lost opportunities.  Don’t waste your time on tasks that you can easily outsource or hire a person to perform.  Save your time and energy on growing your customer base, training your employees and overseeing your business.  Chances are, you are doing tasks at a pay rate that is much higher than the going rate.  Hire well, and they will be better at the task than you were.

Tip-Save for a rainy day.  Put a plan in place to save consistently.  Be careful to not take on too much debt.   Profit by Design is our Contractor program to help you start setting aside your profits, while keeping money reserved for the vital needs of your business; payroll, taxes, and saving for the long term.

Trip-Not knowing your numbers.  What is your profit margin, how much are your monthly expenses?  Compare your numbers to your KPI’s and be prepared to make changes quickly when needed.

Tip-Document your Processes.  Review them and keep them updated.  This does take time, but you will more than recoup your efforts when onboarding new employees, promoting existing employees and providing structure and career path for your employees.

Trip-Not Implementing what you learn.  After training, be sure to focus on 1 or 2 ideas to implement.  It is easy to get overwhelmed when attending seminars, training sessions etc.  Go into the event with the idea of only acting on a few nuggets.  This will keep you focused on gleaning the best ideas, instead of writing pages and pages of notes that get set aside when you get back to the office.  Find someone who can hold you accountable, and you do the same for them.

Tip-Keep your overhead low.  Do you really need an office?  Can you downsize or change locations? Many distributors and supply houses have showrooms for contractors to utilize.  One day shipping is minimizing the need for large inventory.   Your techs are out with customers, and with VOiP, your CSR’s can answer the phone from any location.  While you are at it, take a good look at your expenses.  Are you utilizing what you are paying for?  If you are paying membership dues or fees, make sure you are taking advantage of all the benefits those organizations offer.

Trip-Trying to reinvent the wheel.  Yes, your business needs to stand out from your competitors.  But that doesn’t mean you have to create everything from scratch.  Yes, you grow and learn from failures, but they don’t have to be your missteps.

Tip-Set SMART goals.  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Sensitive.