All too often small business owners start off strong only to taper off or stagnate in the second year. When you consider that almost half of new businesses fail within the first five years, an entrepreneur must be committed to making improvements over and over again. If small business owners want to avoid lulls of no growth, they need to think a few steps ahead. Any entrepreneur can improve their business and deal with periods of slower growth if they use the right strategies. Here are six ways to jump-start this process.

Take a good hard look at your finances 

Know your financial numbers inside out if you want to improve your business. This includes everything from how much money your business makes to how good its credit is. Cash flow is a key indicator of whether a business will grow or fail quickly. In fact, 46% of small businesses that fail do so because of irregular cash flows. When you go over your finances again, make sure the numbers are correct and look for places where you may be spending too much. Where are you spending money when you should be putting it away? You can only find ways to improve your finances if you really know your numbers. 

Get to know your neighbourhood 

Do you remember how hard you worked to find customers in the beginning? It's possible that over time you have lost touch with customers because you were too busy with other parts of the business. Considering getting back in touch with your customer community is an important and promising way to improve your business. In fact, most loyal customers will tell their friends about a brand, which is always good for business. Some great ways to reach out to customers are: Meet-ups with loyal customers online, creating a pop-up shop, going live on social media, sharing tips or entertaining content and sending ongoing updates on emails. To build a community around your brand, you need to get to know your customers. Get personal with them by finding authentic ways to connect with them.

Get your processes and work area in order 

The more you work on your business, the messier it can literally get. Your office may need sorting, your drives may be disorganised, or subscription services may be populated with old payment information. When you use more organisation and efficiency, it's easier to reach your goal of making your business better. Reviewing your tech and making it easier to use by adding simple digital services is a great place to start. Get rid of apps you don't use, go digital where possible, and add team members who need to be there. 

Stay in touch with your staff 

Your employees also have a say in how you can improve your business. Creating a good work environment for your team will help them be more productive and come up with new ideas. Employees want to work in places where they feel valued and respected, and you can create spaces for intentional conversation by putting in place certain strategies. This could be anything from having an open-door policy with your employees to holding team feedback meetings every three months and sending birthday or holiday greetings. 

Think about purchases and new projects 

Taking a look around is a great way to keep your mind on business development. Your market is a great place to find ideas and useful information, like a new niche, a trend, or a competitor. Look out for struggling businesses that might be willing to sell, giving you a chance to reach a new client base. Based on what you learn from your research, you should also try to add new products to your line. With social media, it's easy to know what's popular, especially on TikTok, which has one billion users. This is a great way to keep your business up-to-date and in people's minds. Keep in mind that staying on trend might just mean marketing or branding a classic product in a different way. 

Be aware of when you need help 

Another way to improve business may be hard for some business owners who are set in their ways. But you need to be able to tell when you're in over your head and need to ask for help. As you grow your business, try to put together a formal or informal advisory board. Find people who make you feel good and who know the business and industry. Having a group of people you can trust to get advice from makes a difference. 

The bottom line

Every business owner wants their business to grow in a way that will last. Also, you have to be committed to doing research and making improvements all the time. That means you need to know where you are right now so you can figure out where you need to go. For growth to be sustainable, business owners must always work to improve and be willing to try new things. If you're not used to thinking like a startup, thorough reviews every three months are a good place to start.  These six tips offer important ways to take a step back and figure out how to take your business from where it is to where you need it to be. Take control of your future, access your Free Strategy Planning Tool or SWOT analysis.

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