For small business owners, there are two different categories of time – clock time and real time. Sometimes it feels like there is not enough real time to get things done and effectively manage a business. The truth is for small business owners, time is irrelevant. It’s all about doing what you need to and when you need to in order to meet the needs of the current project, product or customer.
Assess your own capacity for financial risk. There aren’t any right or wrong answers as to the right amount of capital to put up, but you’ll be well-positioned if you have a clear sense of how much you’re willing to invest, and of how you’ll regroup financially if things don’t go as planned.
Meet with your local Small Business Development Center. SBDC’s provide help during all stages of the business life cycle. They can help you create a stellar business plan to approach a lender with and their counseling is always free.
From managing to marketing and everything in between, the world of small business can be both exciting and overwhelming. It’s a place where no two workdays are exactly the same and where unpredictable things happen. If you’re thinking about starting (or you already run and manage) your own business, check out the following list of tips to improve your chances of success.
If you ask people about an idea they will all say “YEAH! THAT SOUNDS GREAT!” And then they don’t buy. Get past this base level of feedback. To figure out if your idea has legs it helps to plot it on a demand matrix like the one below:
There are many successful businesses that forget that providing great customer service is important. If you provide better service for your customers, they’ll be more inclined to come to you the next time they need something instead of going to your competition.
Italiano: Aprire un’Attività, Español: abrir un negocio, Português: Começar seu Próprio Negócio, Deutsch: Ein eigenes Unternehmen starten, Русский: открыть свое дело, 中文: 创业, Français: créer votre propre entreprise, Čeština: Jak založit svoji vlastní společnost, Bahasa Indonesia: Memulai Usaha Sendiri, 한국어: 자기 사업 시작하는 방법, العربية: البدء في عملك الخاص, ไทย: เริ่มธุรกิจของตัวเอง, Tiếng Việt: Bắt đầu công việc kinh doanh riêng, Nederlands: Je eigen bedrijf beginnen
The key to being successful is taking calculated risks to help your business grow. A good question to ask is “What’s the downside?” If you can answer this question, then you know what the worst-case scenario is. This knowledge will allow you to take the kinds of calculated risks that can generate tremendous rewards.
CIT and Operation HOPE Join Forces to Help Small Businesses Launch + Grow To celebrate Financial Literacy Month, CIT and Operation HOPE are partnering to educate and empower small businesses with tools and tips for success. Hear inspiring stories from a diverse group of small business owners at
Consistency is a key component to making money in business. You have to consistently keep doing what is necessary to be successful day in and day out. This will create long-term positive habits that will help you make money in the long run.
Use crowd-funding. If you still can’t drum up enough funding, use websites to raise the money you need to start. These funding sources have several benefits: you will not have to pay interest on the money you get (since it is money which is used to provide actual product or services) and it will help you not only gauge interest in what you have to offer but also help you build a customer base. You’ll start business with hundreds or thousands of customers already lined up and ready to tell other people about what you have to offer.
Communicate clearly with your loved ones about how your business will affect your home life. Understand their level of tolerance and understanding, and enlist extra help, if necessary, such as child care for your family, or additional employees for your business.
Another best friend as you’re running your business? Data. Being intimately familiar with how your business is going on a day-to-day basis is crucial to making informed decisions about how to run things. In your Square Dashboard, you can check all your sales data (across all your locations) and see which items are selling the best, which can help you plan your inventory. You can also see how many customers were new versus returning that day. This is all information you can access on the go, which means you can keep track of your business from anywhere.
Running your own business is a stressful but good career and life choice. It demands your time and focus. Start by expecting to live your work until it is established, so it can get off the ground. There are many different opinions about how to start a business. Below are some basic ideas and guidelines to get you started.
It is easy to come up with an idea to start a business, but not so easy to actually launch and build a profitable business. Eighty per cent of businesses fail in the first five years. Before you take the risk of starting a business, make sure:
Pick your niche. Take stock of your skills, interests, and employment history to select the business best suited to you. Choosing a niche that you can be passionate about will help improve your chances of succeeding. Remember: Many small-business owners succeed in businesses that are hardly unique or innovative.
The best place to begin is with the stuff that’s low cost. Start with the community—oftentimes, organic, word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective. Make an effort to be visible in your neighborhood. That includes things like introducing yourself to fellow business owners, participating in any local events, and asking to put up flyers at places where potential customers might be hanging out. If you have positive relationships with the people in your neighborhood, they’re more likely to recommend your business to others.
Think about why other businesses have failed. Oftentimes, it’s the wrong product, the wrong pricepoint, the wrong market, the wrong team, the wrong marketing, or the wrong entrepreneur, whose skills weren’t up to speed. Now is also the time to take a critical look at your finances. There might not be much money coming in to start. Can you sustain that?
And lastly, you should keep a cash flow statement, which highlights how much money has moved in and out of your business in a given period of time. It, too, is made up of three sections: cash flow from operations, investing, and financing.
Also, when delegating responsibilities, make sure you are assigning oversight of a specific function to a qualified individual. For example, you would not want an accountant representing you in a legal matter or a lawyer balancing your financial books. Thinking of your business functions in this way should also help you identify your needs when you are in the process of hiring employees.
To avoid any derailing issues, you should also take some time to make sure you’re good to go with all your legal and tax obligations as a small business. It’s a good idea to consult with a reputable lawyer and accountant to ensure you’re not missing anything and are filing everything on time. You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve taken care of all the permits or fees that are required to do business in your province. You don’t want any future surprises that could eat up your budget. Ensuring you have all these things set will save you both minor and major headaches that take you away from running your business.
Come up with an idea. You will need an idea for a business before you do anything else. You can conduct a market research to have a clear image. This should be something you are passionate about, since your new business will consume a great deal of your time and money.
It is helpful to think of promotions and marketing relative to the capacity of your business. Paying to run a commercial on a national network does you little good if your business is only designed to operate at the local level.
Use free resources. Your local library contains numerous useful references regarding incorporation, writing business plans, marketing, as well as information specific to your industry. The Small Business Association, Chambers of Commerce, AMEX Small Business website, associations for your industry, associations by ethnicity…all of these offer training, materials, networking and sometimes financing. Another good option is SCORE, a group of retired executives who provide business start-up advice.
Have a website. The world has moved online. Any business that wants to survive the next ten years is going to have a website. People will use it to contact you, find your location, learn your operating hours, ask you questions, make suggestions, and maybe even buy your products or services. In having a website and services which are available over the internet, you will be able to expand your service area out across your region or even the world.
It can also be useful to include questions in drafts of your business plan. Identifying what you don’t know is as helpful as listing things you are sure about. You do not want to present a business plan with unanswered questions to potential investors, but laying out relevant questions in your initial drafts will help you identify questions that require answering in your final business plan.
Remember that nothing happens until a sale is made. How many good products go nowhere because they don’t reach the shelves? Sales are what drive your business. You need a crackerjack marketing plan that details how you intend to package, promote, distribute, price, and sell your product or service.
Hire superstars. If you intend to create a growing business, your number one duty is to assemble a team of superstar employees in your game-breaker positions. Game-breaker positions are key positions, such as the president/CEO (that’s you), the financial person, the sales manager, the marketing manager, the production manager, the office manager, the purchasing agent, the art director, and so on, that will make or break your company.
To help you stay on top of your bookkeeping, you can integrate your Square account to a number of tools in our Square App Marketplace (QuickBooks Online and Xero, for example). If you’re shooting in the dark on these things (or tackling finances for the first time), it may be a good idea to take a course on the basics of small business accounting and bookkeeping at a local university or online. If you have the budget, working with a reputable accountant is a great option.
Get local investors. If the bank loans will not be enough, look into local investors. There may be a local business tycoon or other similarly wealthy person who would have a vested interest in seeing you succeed. Research people in your area who may have the funds and motivation to help you.
Use technology to your advantage Successful big businesses know how to use available technology to increase their productivity and streamline their operations. Doing the same for your small business does not mean you have to spend thousands of dollars on the most high-end equipment available. But you do need to be smart about the technology you choose to implement in your business.
To figure out which area to prioritize first, think about the day-to-day tasks that eat up the most time. Is it ordering inventory? Managing your employees’ schedules? Setting appointments? Running payroll? If you find yourself spending more time than you’d like on any of these things, it’s time to search for some technology to help.
Require payment. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Require payment within a specific window of time (whatever is appropriate for what you do). Invoice people as soon as you possibly can. If someone is late in a payment, talk to them. If you ignore these problems hoping that they go away, you will find yourself working for free and your business in the tank.
Large businesses can afford to be unresponsive and lose a handful of customers from time to time. Small businesses cannot. As a small business owner, it is up to you to make yourself and your company accessible to potential clients and your customer base. This may require you to make your personal cell phone number or email address accessible to clients as you attempt to grow your business.