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5 Key Steps of Home-Based Business, Part 3: Keep on Tracking

Tracking Sales, Competition and Finances is Critical for Small Business Success

The third part in our five-step series on home-based businesses, Keep on Tracking, focuses on the importance of staying on top of competition, products, services, operations, and record keeping. This is where entrepreneurs really need to take a step back and view their business with an objective eye (from customers’, accountant’s, and business advisors’ points of view). In essence, this is an analysis step. So, as an entrepreneur, you need to:

  • Look at desired outcomes and see if your products/services are hitting the mark.
    – Are you achieving goals and getting the results desired? If not, why?
  • Analyze why your customers are buying your products/services (out of need or want).
    – What are the other factors as to why customers are shopping with you (location, price, quality, reputation)?
    – Why are those same customers buying your products/services instead of the competitor’s (what features set you apart)? Often we fool ourselves into thinking we’ve answered these questions during our research phase only to find out we were wrong.

Remember, competition is always present and losing a sale is costly. This analysis proves to be a valuable step in knowing products/services and competition/customers in a more personal way. If your business has been in operation for awhile, those factors may have changed, so, it’s always important to revisit your products and services periodically (branding, packaging, size, price, location, convenience, distribution, customer service, etc,).

Systems Help Keep Entrepreneurs on Track and Out of Trouble.

Depending on your business, internal systems can be anything from simple and direct to complex and multi-level. It’s important to review your internal systems to insure that your products and services are consistently being delivered on time, in a professional/quality manner. Systems include everything from:

  • Maintaining inventory control;
  • Tracking sales;
  • Following up with customers;
  • Evaluating operations (tracing successes and failures);
  • Tracking promotional gifting;
  • Keeping books (taxes, sales, expenses, etc.);
  • Maintaining customer records (data base and files – tracking sales, products used;
  • Keeping employee records (hiring, firing, promotions, transfers, job descriptions, applications,
    performance reviews);
  • Laying out marketing strategies (tracking what has worked – when, how, where, what didn’t work,
    costs of marketing and goals for upcoming marketing).

Most small businesses make huge tax mistakes or fail to track the important things. Somewhere down the line, they are failing or succeeding but have no way of knowing why. Staying on track better assures us that we can grow the business successfully and move into mainstream.

Update: Read Part 4 of this series now: “Growing with Magic Beans

Jennifer Craig

Jennifer Craig

Jennifer has over 30 years combined experience in business consulting, human resources, training, organizational development, and entertainment. In the past, she had worked for a variety of organizations including NMSU, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and Universal Studios before joining WESST in 1995. Her BA is in Journalism and Mass Communications, and her graduate work is in Training and Development. She was on the founding Board of the local ASPA (SHRM) group, was named SBA’s Small Business Advocate of the Year in 1997; and has illustrated two books. She enjoys writing and painting.