A Guide For Small Business Owners
Entrepreneurs have great ideas for products and services, but it can be intimidating to start a new venture. Once that small business launches, that entrepreneur hopes that it will be successful. Though there isn’t a defined road map for running a successful business, there are some factors that should be considered while trying to get off the ground. When the small business proves to be successful, most business owners may not be prepared for how quickly his or her small business will grow. The best ways to enhance your business growth depends on the type of business you own, your available resources, and how much you are willing to invest. For example, choosing the best business growth strategy largely depends on what stage of growth your business is currently in. Additionally, the way you interact with your customers in positive and negative situations directly reflects your company and how the public views you.
The following are tips, tricks, and secrets to help you start your business, grow your business, and maintain your success.
Starting A Small Business
- Ask questions and do research.
Consider asking yourself some questions before starting a small business. What problem are you solving? Will you need a loan? Who are your customers? Your answers may prompt you to do further research on what more you can do prior to starting your business. Think critically about your funding, marketing, and potential customers amongst other things.
- Write a business plan.
A business plan is a document that will help keep you, the business owner, as well as investors and executive employees, on track for the first three to five years. It will provide an in-depth outline to help you set concrete goals, such as setting a time frame for when you will (or should) open a second location. There are many reasons to have a solid business plan; some of these reasons include prioritization, control, and funding.
- Take care of the details.
One of the first things that needs to be taken care of before your business is up and running is determining your legal structure. There are a variety of ways to structure a business, including LLC, corporation, and non-profit. From there, you’ll have to register for state and federal taxes, obtain a tax ID number, and any state or federal licenses/permits. You’ll need to set up a merchant account with your local bank to handle your finances. If you plan to accept payments online, you’ll want to partner with a PCI-compliant vendor who can securely process transactions.
- Decide what position needs to be filled, and fill it.
One of the most important factors to consider before hiring anyone is the position you need to fill. Once that’s determined, take some time to decide what kind of employee you need so you can be sure to find the best candidate. One way to do this is by writing down the characteristics your dream candidate will have. Then, take these steps before moving forward with making job posts.
- Consider outsourcing the position.
A possible solution to filling a position is outsourcing. There are companies that can handle customer service, reservation setting, and even e-commerce services for you. This article from PCG-Services covers the who, what, and hows about outsourcing.
Growing A Small Business
- Make yourself available.
To build up your small business, you should understand your target audience and what they’re looking for. To do this, make yourself available to your customers. Listen to their needs and offer your support. This will help build relationships, which will ultimately turn into a growing following. If you’re already having trouble making yourself available, consider a call center that can handle customer service. Business growth is great, but may not be so great if you can’t keep up with the volume.
- Engage with your customers.
Thanks to social media, it’s easy to reach out to and engage with potential clients and customers. Think about what kind of business you have, and make accounts on the social media channels that make the most sense. Facebook is logical for most businesses. Putting out content on a consistent basis will help you show your customers that you and your business are continuing to stay relevant and that you want to continue engaging with them. Should a customer or client come to you with a complaint, be sure to follow up with them. This shows that you care about how they feel about the situation.
- Build your brand.
Consumers place a high importance on brands. Is it trustworthy? Reliable? Take some time to really think about what your business does, what your business values, how you do it, and the way that you want to interact with your customers. Once you have a firm grasp on what you plan to do, you can start to figure out the best way to brand it. This includes developing a logo and color scheme. Brand building and brand maintenance can be as simple as maintaining social media. Brand-building can also include the other content you give or receive on the web: blogs, posts, reviews and/or testimonials. Increasing your web presence by working on your brand helps people see why they should be part of your company in some way.
- Budget carefully.
Since it might take some time for your business to take off, you should be as careful as possible with your budget. If you don’t think you’re quite ready for a receptionist in the office, a call center could be the right choice. This is an affordable alternative to an in-house employee, which means your finances won’t be so tight.
- License your product.
Licensing is an effective, minimum cost growth option, especially if your product or service is branded. Compared to starting your own company or business, licensing allows you to minimize your risks while still profiting from your brand or product. If you are interested in licensing, you should first find a licensing partner by researching types of companies that provide services similar to yours.
Diversifying allows you to acquire multiple income streams which can lead to increased sales and profit margins. Common ways to diversify include selling other products that complement your core product or service, and importing/exporting your products. If you found success in your current market, you can also begin looking toward other markets that might use your product.
- Retain an excellent team.
It’s much easier to expand your business if you have a qualified, efficient team. But don’t hire based on resumes alone—make sure that you evaluate a potential employee’s personality and attitude in interviews. (Remember what we said about making a list of characteristics?) Having an excellent team will also reflect the kind of customer service you’re providing. If you want to continue to offer your customers the best services, it is very important to make sure you are up to new customer service challenges. Hire more customer service representatives and get them properly trained so they can continue to keep your customers happy.
- Open another location.
Like many business owners, opening a new location can be a great option if you are confident in the level of control in your current location. However, it is crucial that your current location is running smoothly financially and with the right staff. If you don’t want to personally manage the new location, you may want to consider franchising. This allows you to grow your core business while maximizing your time spent improving your business in other ways.
- Moving forward…
As your business grows, you should develop a plan that helps you manage this growth without major issues. Create a new business model to include any new services you plan to offer to compensate for the growth. Hire more employees if you need extra manpower. You might even want to outsource some areas of your business to ensure that your company can handle the demands that come with the growth. Be careful that you don’t spread you or your business too thin.
- Always consider your brand.
You started your business for a reason. Your clients and customers remain loyal to you for a reason. Part, or all, of that reason is because of your brand. You are putting something out into the world that people believe in. By remaining focused on that, you can and will maintain your business’ success.
- Make yourself different.
If a customer sees six companies that offer the same service(s), it will be difficult to entice them to come to your business. The key to success in the small business world is to make yourself different from your competition. You should constantly research your industry to stay on top of trends that helps you stand out.
- Focus on your products and services.
Enticing customers to use your products and services will only get you so far. If you want to enjoy the benefits of repeat customers, you have to offer quality products and services. Make an effort to give your customers quality products and services that will keep them coming back and inspire them to tell their friends and family about your business.
- Utilize available technologies.
Implement new technologies and services, like secure messaging and live chat, to enhance your level of customer service. Taking advantage of these technologies will give you a better relationship with your client base. Promoting customer loyalty can help you to increase the lifetime value of each customer.
- Continue to make room for growth!
Implement strategies that allow you to scale. Partnering with a call center is a great way to prepare for rapid growth and transition in your company size, and can help your business handle an influx of phone calls and orders when you don’t yet have the manpower to support the additional volume.
As a small business owner, you should always be on the hunt for new ways to succeed in business. This list of newsletters is a great way to stay up-to-date and ahead of the curve. With convenient and easy-to-read articles, you get the information you need about money, marketing, and even how to manage your employees.