Successfully running a business, no matter how small, is no mean task. It requires constant effort, resources, and adaptability to changing environments. Even if the business sees consistent growth, there’s no guarantee it will continue. It can feel like a constant challenge. But where there are challenges, there are solutions. And a small business is no different. Here are three tips for success for your business.
1. Plan well
From the time you think of a business idea, the planning process begins. A business plan is a fundamental cornerstone of driving forward. At the first step, it helps the entrepreneur understand if the plan is even viable or not.
A business plan involves researching into the market for the product or service under consideration. It sounds time consuming, but it can be well worth the effort if done right. For instance, it might involve the entrepreneur reaching out to potential customers to understand their pain points. Or talking to suppliers to understand delivery timelines.
In this process, the businessperson can understand how to run the business even before starting out. This feeds into the planning process when the business starts, increasing chances of success. It also sets up the business for consistent planning at every stage of growth.
2. Organization Matters
Good planning also makes a difference to organizing. Once the plan is in place, it is easier to see what the requirements are. Two of the key ones in any business are:
- Legal structure: Whether you want to go solo or be in a partnership or start a company needs to be decided at the outset. This can change over time, as the business evolves.
- Hire right: Having the right people in the right places is key. Finance, technology, market, and operations are some of the key divisions in all companies. For a small business it might not be viable to hire for every singly role, but the responsibilities should ideally be neatly divided. Consider giving candidates pre-employment assessments to get an idea of their skillset and what they can contribute to building a company.
- External associates: It is not just the people in the company that need to be hired right, but also external associates like suppliers and consultant. A good tax consultant can for example, help a company make the right expenses and investments that can lower the tax bill. And a good supplier can ensure that the raw materials are available in time. This can go a long way in ensuring that the final product reaches the customer in time.
3. Finance Right
Finance is the lifeblood of any business, without which it cannot survive. Therefore, managing your finances well is perhaps the most crucial part of owning a small business because it will enable you to maintain a consistent cash flow and handle any financial instability. There are two key facets to remember here.
- Keep proper books: This will help you understand where the business is at any point in time on a regular basis. This can be the difference between raising funding or cut back on expenses for a while as revenue in the pipeline comes in. It can also help you understand how much profits you make and plan for the future. Importantly, it can help you keep track of the debt on your books and how sustainable or not it is.
- Avail of financial tools: Keeping track of finances can seem daunting, but a wide variety of software and tools can make it a lot more manageable. Financial software can automate the record-keeping, while financial tools such as Intuit Markets booked manual deposit slips, can be a time saver too.
- Invest well: A non-trivial source of income can be that from financial investments, irrespective of what the actual business is. This can be overlooked easily, but a strong finance manager or consultant can help the business grow by just investing the profits wisely.
4. Marketing Strategies
For small businesses, an effective marketing strategy should target customers while minimizing costs. Below are some marketing tips to get started.
- Analyze the market: Before investing any money into marketing, it is important to do a thorough assessment of potential customers and the competition. Understand where potential opportunities exist and create a strategy that outpaces your competition.
- Choose the right channels: There is an array of outlets for your business, from traditional marketing methods such as automated direct mail and television ads to more modern digital techniques like search engine optimization (SEO) and social media management. Decide which strategies are most appropriate for your business and budget.
- Use effective content: Content creation is essential for successful marketing. Creating relevant content that your customer base will actually read, watch or interact with helps establish trust and authority in your industry, leading to an increase in brand awareness and loyalty over time.
- Stay organized: Any good marketer will tell you that organization is key! Keeping track of contacts, progress on projects, analytics data, customer feedback and other pieces can honestly be overwhelming; choose systems that work best for you to create a streamlined organizational structure.
- Leverage current customers: Your current customers can be a surprisingly powerful tool in gaining new ones! Word-of-mouth referrals have always been one of the best forms of advertising; now leverage those referrals through social media promo codes or other incentives to amplify reach even further!
5. Utilizing Technology
It is essential for small businesses to proactively seek out and navigate a range of new technologies to increase productivity and stay ahead of the competition. Technology doesn’t just refer to computers, but also encompasses internal and external communication, sharing of data with customers, suppliers, and employees, as well as software applications designed specifically for businesses. To ensure smooth operation, it is important to consider how technology can be used to enhance every aspect of business processes.
Some tips on how small businesses can use technology include:
- Utilizing email services like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail for communicating with customers.
- Using customer relationship management (CRM) systems such as Salesforce or SugarCRM to keep track of customer information and follow up with customers in a personalized way.
- Taking advantage of video conferencing solutions such as Skype or FaceTime for virtual meetings, interviews, and connecting with remote collaborators.
- Making use of cloud computing solutions like Box.com, Dropbox, or Greenfly’s digital media platform for storing important documents securely online so they can be accessed from anywhere at any time.
- Employing online payment processing solutions such as PayPal or Square for collecting payments quickly and securely from customers around the world.
- Exploring analytics tools such as Mixpanel or KISSMetrics to track web traffic patterns and user engagement metrics that will help identify areas needing improvement or highlight opportunities that were previously overlooked.
While there can still be all kinds of unexpected challenges to deal with, the key takeaway here is that some steps can still be taken to ensure success. Planning well, organizing, and importantly managing finances are some of the most significant steps to this end.