Building a Successful Small Business
Have an entrepreneurial drive? Cooked up a great idea for a small business? Tired of the 9 to 5? Owning a small business can be one of the most rewarding things you decide to do in your professional life, but can also become a huge headache. Having a successful business in this day and age is quite a feat. The SBA reports that “seven out of 10 new employer firms survive at least 2 years, half at least 5 years, and a third at least 10 years”.
What can you do to ensure you’re part of the 1/3 group? You start off strong by building a successful small business with these tips.
Create a Business Plan & Conduct Market Research
If this is your first go round with owning a business, stop and consider making a formal plan as well as doing a bit of research. If you don’t have the slightest clue where to start, take a class. Many community colleges and even some non-profit groups have free or low cost seminars for those interested in starting a business. Don’t just ‘wing it’.
Understand how to create a solid business plan that outlines your executive summary, company description, organization & management (even if you’re the only employee think about the future!), service and product lines, marketing & sales, funding plans, and financial projects. Online resources such as the SBA.gov offer additional resources that may be of benefit to you as well. One of the best lessons to learn as a small business owner is to look for help in all the areas you can, and don’t be too proud to do so!
Get Your Financial Ducks in a Row
A business plan will help with the financial part of things, or at least get you thinking about this component. But additionally, look to really get a feel for where your cash reserves, credit limits, and investments stand. Look to take on investors if you need a better safety net, or apply for financial help from a financial institution that offer small business loans. Grants and financial assistance may be available to you in your city or state, so conduct a bit of research online.
Find Ways to Keep Costs Low
Overhead costs can literally shut down a business if you’re not prepared. Purchase office products that you know are low cost and low maintenance. Brands such as Lexmark, Brother, and HP are good for all-in-one printers. Renting is also an option you can look at for your office needs. Don’t forget about cost of brand specific ink such as Lexmark ink cartridges, toner for larger machines, and the maintenance that a machine will need as well. These should be taken into consideration before you rent or purchase a machine to understand the true costs.
Above and beyond the office supplies, you’ll need to consider additional overhead costs such as: insurance for employees & your business, software for: accounting, project management, etc…; electricity and rent costs of course, vendor costs, and much more. Do a full cost-benefit analysis to find the best for each of your needs. Again, don’t just ‘wing it’ here. There are many areas where you can chisel down your costs.
Become a Marketing Machine
As the prospective business owner, you are the one with the most to gain – and the most to lose. Become a marketing machine for your business. Evangelize your company to friends, family, and anyone else you come into contact with. Become an expert in your industry and tout your company’s awesome-ness to anyone who will hear you. Use social media, content marketing and traditional marketing to guide you through the step of not only becoming a great business owner but also a great marketer. Sites like HubSpot.com offer great inbound marketing advice and blogs like this one do as well.
Know the Pulse of Your Business
Understanding where your finances are on a daily or weekly basis, the state of your industry, and keeping up on business trends isn’t enough. You want to know the pulse of your business, those quick steady beats and the irregular ones too. Test and measure everything, compare to previous data, and set goals. Take a baseline measurement and compare back to it constantly just as a doctor would when measuring and tracking your vitals.
Sure, these are just a few of the basic tips to a successful business, but start here and work your way up. Make the best out of your new business venture, and good luck in 2013!
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