How to run a successful small business

Jürg Widmer Probst

How to run a successful small business

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Wouldn’t it be great if there were a few simple things you could do today that would directly influence how to run a successful small business?

Well, it turns out that there are…

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How to run a successful small business – listening is key

Listening is the single most important skill that any business owner can develop. It helps in every area of your business.

When we listen to our customers, we learn more about their pain points. It helps us to tailor our offer to their needs. Their thoughts, opinions, insights and wants and needs can help you to improve every aspect of your business.

When we listen to our employees, we understand how we can help them to feel more engaged and motivated. And when we ask them for their ideas – and then act on them and bring them to life – we help our people to feel they’re a genuine part of the company.

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Do things for free (sometimes)

So much of what we do in business is, logically enough, transactional. People pay for our products and services, and we provide them. We pay to go to a networking event, and we expect to make contacts.

But one of the most important things we can learn as business owners is that it also pays to give things of value away sometimes. It might be of financial value, but it doesn’t have to be. It might be your own time, or your expertise on a particular matter. The point is that being generous in this way makes a hugely positive impact on your brand image.

We transform our relationships into ones where we’re not just getting in touch with people when we want something from them. And when we do that, we show that our interest in them is based more on a desire to help them solve their problems, rather than just taking their money.

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Reward and recognise your best people

Recruiting people is hard work. According to the experts at the Manpower Group, almost three quarters of the employers they surveyed find it difficult to get hold of candidates who are right for the job.

The lesson here? That if you want to make your small business more successful, focus on keeping your best people. If you’ve got talented people on board already, keep them.

Train them, develop them and keep them focused with a clear strategy. Encourage them to buy into the future of your business by asking them to contribute whenever you can.

And when you see them excelling in their roles, celebrate it and reward them for it. Make sure that they become role models for your other employees, and they will lift your entire business to another level.

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Work your word-of-mouth reputation

It is one of the most fundamental truths in business: people buy things from people they trust. And equally, when they are not sure where to go for something, they listen to people that they know and trust in order to find it.

Word-of-mouth promotion is the most powerful driver for growth you have for your small business.

So, if you want to grow, focus on building your rates of word-of-mouth recommendations, both on and offline. Recent research suggests that 88 per cent of consumers trust online reviews just as a recommendation from a friend.

The starting point for this is, of course, to give a great service in the first place. When people have a positive experience with you, the more likely they are to recommend you.

But there is also an opportunity there when things don’t go so well – the way that you and your team responds to a crisis can actually help you to stand out from the competition.

So, encourage feedback and ask for ratings and reviews wherever you can in order to build your word-of-mouth reputation.


Ultimately, the bottom line is this.


Knowing how to run a successful small business comes down to listening more, recognising and rewarding your people and building your word-of-mouth recommendations. Get these things right and your business won’t be small for long. Good luck!



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