You have a lot to think about when you’re starting up a business, so you could be forgiven for forgetting a few important elements. But there are certainly some business elements out there that most business owners don’t seem to pay any attention to at all. This may be because their significance is wildly underrated. We’re going to take a quick at some important business areas that you may be ignoring. Ignore this advice at your own peril!
You might be thinking to yourself that there’s no way social media can be considered an underrated aspect of business. After all, you may have seen countless articles on the Internet about the importance of social media as a marketing tool. The key term here, though, is marketing tool.
More startups than ever are utilizing social media as a marketing tool in very effective ways. The problem isn’t so much with a lack of use of social media for business – but its potential is definitely underrated by many.
Social media shouldn’t just be used as a means to get people to hear about your business, or as a means of sharing the content from your website. You should be using social media as part of your customer service.
Many business owners may not like the sound of this idea at all. After all, shouldn’t customer service take place over a more private medium, such as email or phone, instead of social media, which is almost like encouraging users to air their grievances in public?
Here’s the problem with that sort of approach: people are going to call out your business over social media. You can’t avoid it. All it takes is the use of your Twitter handle, for example, and suddenly there’s a comment or question regarding a problem ready to be shared all over social media.
Perhaps a couple of years ago you could have gotten away with not responding. These days, people are expecting a response. Make sure you’re providing great customer service over social media as well as email and phone.
When most people think about companies, they tend to think about things that relate to that company’s branding. When people think about Coca-Cola, for instance, they don’t only think about the body-wrecking brown sugar-water the company sells; they think about the company’s logos, their adverts, the distinctive red-and-white color scheme that makes one think almost automatically of Coca-Cola even when you see the colors in other places.
A lot of startups forget about the importance of branding. It’s the development of visual cues that will make customers think immediately of your company. It’s the crafting of a particular image for your business that will determine how skilled, friendly, and modern people will assume your business is within the first few seconds of seeing your adverts, or your store, or your website. You may not think that customers make so many snap judgments so quickly, but they do.
Therefore, your branding should be an integral part of your business plan. Of course, the quality of your product or service should always come first. But if you don’t pay enough attention to the personality your company will develop, of the color scheme and logo you’ll use, then your company will simply look a lot more bland than you’ll want it to.
Many business owners shy away from this because branding elements are often so expensive, but there are always cheap and effective alternatives. You can design your own logo for free, if need be.
So many businesses these days are going without a human resources department. They assume that it’s something that doesn’t require a full-time employee. After all, how difficult can it be to deal with the sorts of problems that HR deal with? If there are payment disputes, the bookkeeper can deal with it. If there are any other problems, then employees should just be able to go straight to the boss. Right?
This may work for very small businesses, but you’ll be surprised how quickly the need for a full-time HR employee manifests. At the end of the day, bookkeepers and bosses end up getting overwhelmed with other work, and find it difficult to deal with everyone’s needs regarding payment, annual leave, sick leave, healthcare, and disputes.
Another thing you have to consider is the ever-rising levels of employment lawsuits. You may not like to think of your employees as potential plaintiffs against your company, but you never know what kind of employment laws may be broken or exploited if you don’t have a full-time employee on the case.
The average employment lawsuit is often estimated to cost about a quarter-million dollars, though many others would estimate something closer to half a million dollars. The most common claims are ones that are difficult to protect yourself against if you don’t have an HR employee.
A problem that plagues so many businesses is that business owners forget the vast majority of employees wouldn’t be working for them if they weren’t being paid to do so. You may be thinking: Well, duh. Of course I know that. Perhaps it’s not so much that business owners forget this fact as much as it is the brutal truth that lies behind that fact: employees, by and large, would much rather be doing something else with their time.
Why, exactly, is this important? “People would rather not be at work.” Not such a newsflash, right? The problem is that business owners tend not to see things from the employee’s point of view. They expect a great deal of dedication from employees based simply on the fact that those employees are being paid – but the truth is that you’re only going to get so much from them if they’re not that satisfied with their jobs. And most workers certainly aren’t very satisfied with their jobs.
Don’t forget to give deep thought to how you’ll help keep your employees happy at work. Deeply dissatisfied employees are nowhere near as productive as satisfied ones, so don’t neglect to make employee satisfaction a clear focus in your business.