By Rieva Lesonsky
Are you doing what it takes to make your small business a “high achieving” success? The latest American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, which regularly polls the opinions of small business owners, has identified a group of “high achieving” small business owners and studied what they do to identify the strategies and tactics that help drive business growth.
High achievers represent just 6 percent of the Monitor’s respondents. On average, these companies had been in business 26 years, employ 18 people, and have achieved business growth of 34 percent over the last three years (compared to an average of 10 percent growth for all survey respondents). Yes, that’s the last three years—in other words, the depths of the recession.
What do high achievers do differently from the rest?
They ask for advice: Nearly six in 10 have a business mentor (59 percent, compared to 33 percent of all respondents).
They leverage social media: 70 percent use social media, compared to 49 percent overall. Almost 80 percent use it to attract new customers, compared to 57 percent overall.
They invest in their business. More than three-quarters (78 percent) are planning to make capital investments in the next 6 months (compared to 49 percent overall).
They ask for feedback: Ninety-two percent agree it would be foolish not to ask their customers for feedback and incorporate it into their business model going forward (compared to 75 percent overall).
- More than three-quarters (78 percent) ask their customers for advice on how to better serve them (compared to 52 percent overall).
- Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) ask for new client referrals (compared to 53 percent overall).
- More than half (51 percent) ask for positive reviews on ratings and review sites and social media (compared to 34 percent overall).
It’s not all about what you do—it’s also about your outlook. More than three-quarters of high achievers describe themselves as having a positive outlook and business prospects (77 percent compared to 49 percent overall). And a whopping 99 percent say they see the glass as half-full.
Their outlook and actions are paying off. High achievers paid themselves more than average business owners ($85,000, compared to $72,000) and were also creating more jobs. While the majority of small businesses in the survey indicated they were taking “wait and see” approach until after the presidential election, with just 29 percent planning to hire new employees over the next six months, two-thirds of high achieving small business owners reported plans to hire in that time frame.
Image by Flickr user Shorts and Longs / The Both And (Creative Commons)