The statistics of small business survival remain abysmal with only one in three making it past a 10-year mark (Forbes). One of the most critical elements of success that will allow your company to be ‘the one’ is a constant improvement. Luckily, today you can use a few useful tools to understand which parts of your business need improvement first. These range from analytical tools, like 5 Whys to solutions that gather and process essential data, like customer surveys.

4 Tools to Help You with Business Improvements

1. 5 Whys

5 whys is an analytical tool used for problem-solving. This isn’t a solution but a method that enables you to find the root of the problem. Therefore, it helps you solve the issue on the deepest level thus preventing future losses.

This analytic technique doesn’t require any specialised software. All you need to do to use it is to develop a line of cause-and-effect questions where every next ‘why?’ is based on the previous one. For example, the first why can be ‘why did our sales drop last month?’, our shop had a drop in traffic so the second is ‘why did our shop had a drop in traffic?’ The point is to go deeper until you manage to get to the root of the problem through logical conclusions.

To use this analytic tool, you’ll need to have a good understanding of the business situation. However, you can also have several people working on the same problem using this method and get different perspectives and more insight.

2. Customer surveys

Surveys are a tool that will allow you to gather data, which will directly point to some areas where your business needs improvements. You’ll need to use specialised software to process this data and use it for developing and correcting your business’ strategy.

You should use different types of surveys to benefit your business more. Start with customer satisfaction surveys, which will allow you to find weaknesses in your customer service. Look at top brands like KFC for inspiration. This company is renowned for the quality of its service. Therefore, you can complete KFC survey to see what kind of data the company gathers and how it can be used. Your business doesn’t need to have a huge budget to run a satisfaction survey which will be as efficient as the one from a top brand. The key is choosing the right questions.

Other types of surveys you can use include asking customers for their wishes in regards to new products and services. You should also run studies that allow customers to offer their opinions on their purchases.

3. A/B testing

A/B testing is an analytic tool that allows you to compare the performance of two different variants of the same product/service/content/etc. Basically, it’s a tool that enables you to gather performance data and determine which option is the best. However, analysing the results further will also allow you to understand what the weaknesses are and develop improvements for the future.

There are dozens of A/B testing tools like A/B Tasty or Apptimize, which are incredibly versatile. Look for a solution that will fit your business’ needs perfectly or have one developed specifically for you.

4. SWOT analysis

Much like 5 whys, SWOT analysis is a method rather than a physical analytic tool. However, you can find a variety of templates (Smartsheet) or use a SWOT analysis generator (WikiWealth).

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. In essence, this analytic tool enables you to thoroughly examine external and internal factors that affect your business and identify areas that need improvements. It also helps you prioritise those improvements based on their relevance and expected a payoff. Every company can benefit from a thorough professional SWOT analysis.