Every day, thousands of start-up companies are born. The majority of them will fail, but a few will succeed and it's all because they followed a few simple strategies that are followed by large, successful corporations. If you're thinking of opening your own small business, or already own one, try these tips to help you grow your business in the right direction.
Whether you're a one-man operation or a small group, effective management is essential for success. For the single-person operation, make sure you manage your time, efforts, resources and relationships with clients well. If you have a few employees, be certain that you are managing them to the best of their ability – ensuring you have people with the right skills for the job, making certain their talents are being used to your best benefit, and keeping an eye on how their time is being used. If you aren't maximising the time they spend at your offices, you need to reconsider how they work.
No matter how big or small, delivering the best possible customer service is absolutely vital. For a large company, one or two disgruntled customers can be managed, placated, or even written off if there's no pleasing the customer. For a small business, the loss of one or two repeat customers can be disastrous. Define your customer service strategy, make sure you and your client understand what will be delivered, how it will be delivered, and when it will be delivered – then stick to that!
Especially if you're quite busy, it's easy to let the finances slide. Sure, you may be sending out invoices and getting money in, but is that money being properly managed? Are your bills, taxes and salaries being paid on time and accurately? Is there any way you could be investing some of that money to help it grow? If you have plans to expand and need a business loan from your bank, do you have clear cash-flow projections, income and expenditure analysis? Unless you are a financial whizz-kid and are able to not only do your work, manage your company and keep all the finances perfectly in order, you may need an accountant – even a part-time or freelance one.
One of the greatest risks with a small company is specialisation. The more niche your product or service, the more difficult it is to find the right people to do the work. And even if you find those people, there's no guarantee they will be around forever and if they leave, they take not only their skills, but everything they've learned with them. This can cause a massive skills shortage for your company. Make sure that all knowledge gained within your company is shared, written down, kept alive, so that it can be passed on and not lost along with a prized employee.
Effective marketing is absolutely critical for any small business. If nobody knows you exist, they won't be able to use you – it's really that simple. You don't need to spend millions on that marketing, though. Look at current marketing that works – use social media to its best advantage, be present in your marketplace, keep your brand story alive and active. If you find something that works, use it – just don't use it to death, and don't use just that idea.
Keeping a small business running takes plenty of effort, but it can be done. Use these techniques to help make sure your business works, and you could see your company grow beyond your dreams.