Small business owners, take note. On Oct. 8, more than 2,000 of the world’s best athletes will head to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii to compete in the 2016 Ironman World Championship.
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the Ironman is a spectacularly grueling race. Athletes start off the competition by swimming 2.4 miles. Next, they bike 112 miles around the Big Island of Hawaii, tackling more than a mile of elevation gains during the process. Finally, they wash that all down by running a 26.2-mile marathon.
Altogether, finishing the race—which is an amazing accomplishment in its own right—requires conquering 140.6 miles of land and sea. But winning the Ironman? That requires mastery of swimming, biking, running, and endurance—to the point you’re able to beat a large pool of the world’s greatest athletes. To win the Ironman, athletes must possess an insanely diverse and versatile skill set.
The same idea holds true in the world of small business. If you want your business to beat your competitors and come in first place in a challenging contest, your operations need to be in great shape and ready for the long haul. Like the Ironman athletes who must excel at swimming, biking, and running in order to have any chance of winning (or even completing) the race, your small business needs to be skilled in products, service, and cash flow if you want to become a dominant force.
3 Way to Beat the Small Business Ironman
- Great products
No matter your industry, you can’t expect to keep the doors of your small business open if you produce run-of-the-mill products. Instead, you need to build high-quality products that are in-demand. A recent study revealed that 42% of startups fail because they go into business to tackle problems they find interesting despite there not being a market need for what they’re building. Instead of taking that route, do your due diligence to make sure you’re building products that solve problems your customers face every day. To pull away from your competitors, don’t compromise on the integrity of your products by using subpar materials, supplies, or ingredients to build them.
- Great customer service
Even if you have some of the best products in the world, your customers won’t be too keen on continuing to support your business following a terrible experience. Complement your great portfolio of products with superior customer service. Believe it or not, researchers expect customer experience to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020. Get ahead of the pack by making customer service a top priority at your organization—which can help you start cultivating strong customer experiences today.
- Great cash flow
Being able to develop new products and invest in new customer service and customer experience initiatives requires having access to cash. When the cash river runs dry, it’s impossible for your small business to take advantage of new opportunities in as timely a manner as you’d like. In other instances, it can become difficult to figure out how to pay your bills and make payroll each month.
Cash flow problems can materialize for a number of reasons, and late payments are a primary cause. According to our research, 64% of small businesses deal with delayed payments. The good news is that if you find yourself in that category, you can use an invoice financing service like Fundbox to advance payments on your unpaid invoices—thereby reclaiming control of your cash flow and making it easier to grow your business.
It remains to be seen which athletes will post the best times at the Ironman, but we can bet whoever wins will be prepared and able to excel at multiple sports. Prepare your business similarly by building great products, offering great service, and taking control of your cash flow. You’ll emerge a winner too!
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