More and more people are launching their own business, and discovering the freedom and sense of fulfillment that it brings. Whether you’re a startup entrepreneur, a consultant or sole trader, or somebody with a wealth of experience and a large business of your own, there are some things that apply across the board. You’re sure to have noticed that the business world is incredibly competitive at the moment, and smart business owners are well aware of the need to keep their business lean. It’s important to keep overheads down without harming performance, but here are three vital areas of business expenditure that you should never cut.

Consumer Research

The key to business success, whatever sector you operate in, and whether you sell to the public or other businesses, is to have a great product or service. On its own, however, that’s not enough. To boost your chances of sustainable success, your great product or service has to be unique, and it has to solve a real consumer problem. The only way to understand what consumers need and what they think of potential solutions is to ask them, which is why consumer research is one of the most important expenditures that any business will accrue. The data captured in this way is business gold, so analyze it carefully and look for the trends and messages contained within it.

Customer Service

Customers are the most vital asset that you have, so you should do all you can to communicate with them and keep them happy. Consumer research can be a first step along that path, but customer service is just as important as it can help you discover problems that customers may be having with your product or service, which in turn allows you to improve it. Never ignore customer complaints, suggestions or praise, and always respond in a timely and positive manner. This is even more important in today’s social media age when comments by an unhappy customer can be seen and shared by their followers. Conversely, providing a good customer service experience will help you get noticed for all the right reasons, bringing with it the all-important brand awareness.

Health and Safety

Whatever your business specializes in, the safety of your workers and customers has to be your number one priority, which is why you should never cut out health and safety training or personal safety equipment. Having said that, you can still save money by purchasing directly from experts in the field, like Harness Land who are specialists in fall protection equipment of all kinds. Harness Land safety devices are not only great value for money, they’re also easy to use and innovative. By showing how important health and safety is to you and your business, you can reassure potential customers and boost your corporate reputation.With the correct health and safety equipment and routines, excellent consumer research and analysis, and a commitment to providing the very best customer experience, you can gain a competitive edge over your business rivals. All businesses have to keep a close eye on their budgets and overheads, but these three areas are the keys to growth year upon year, so never cut them too far.

For David Rowland, Head of Marketing at Engage EHS, any business person worth their salt will have an in-depth knowledge of health and safety policy and practice. This is because health and safety is not only an end in itself, it is a means to an end towards a more efficient business that has an improved bottom line and greater brand loyalty amongst consumers.