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Published February 28, 2019
A weekly look at issues facing Wyoming business owners and entrepreneurs from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Bruce Morse, regional director, Wyoming SBDC Network
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 taking care of customers and paying attention to the financial aspects of the business.
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 TripAdvisor, it is very easy for someone who 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.
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 recordkeeping 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 and loss statement, and a balance sheet. If you don't know what either of these are, we need to talk.
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. To get in touch with your local adviser, visit www.wyomingsbdc.org.
The Wyoming SBDC Network offers business expertise to help Wyoming residents think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their business. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.