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.
There are many ways for a small business to be successful, from financial return, to work-life balance, to making the world a better place. To run a successful small business, first develop a clear idea of what success looks like to you. As you work out the mechanics of running your company, keep this vision in mind and make choices that will advance you along this path.
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:
Now that you have a plan, it’s time to put it through the ringer. Though the oft-cited statistic that 80 per cent of businesses fail in their first five years is false – the U.S. Bureau of Labor reports the five-year failure rate is actually around 50 per cent – it’s still a tricky feat to launch a new business.
Solve your customers’ problems. The best way to satisfy your customers is not by selling them products or services but by providing solutions to their problems. Understand the difference and market your products and services accordingly.
Manage your inventory efficiently. Inventory management can make or break a small retail business, so manage it carefully to ensure that you’re maximizing every dollar spent. Invest in small inventory quantities at first and continuously monitor inventory numbers so you know what’s selling and what isn’t. Rotate inventory frequently to remove slow sellers and replace them with new items.
Think strategically You started your business with a plan. You need to grow your business with a plan, too. The most effective leaders are those who analyze, plan and look ahead when solving problems and making decisions. Harvard Business Review said a strategic approach to leadership is 10 times more important to being an effective leader than other common traits like communication and skill level. Approaching your daily tasks and long-term goals with strategy and planning will increase your opportunities to achieve success.
Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you’ll need several of the following types of insurance: life, disability, partnership, critical illness, key person, property, contents, business interruption, general liability, product liability, or professional liability. If you’re unsure what you need, an insurance broker can help.
You will, of course, need to spend extra hours and work harder. But the transition from being an employee to a business owner will be far smoother as you won’t have additional expenses to worry about.
Get your license. Remember to register and acquire your small business license in the particular industry of your business. This step is important to ensuring that you’re running your business legally and according to industry regulations. Be sure to register for permits related to particular services you offer, like home repair or tax preparation, which could require registration and certification. You will not be able to hire effective employees if your business is not operating with the appropriate licenses and permits.
You should also be looking to the future here. Will your payments processing device grow with your business and keep you current with the latest in secure payments technologies? Toward that end, get a reader that can accept EMV chip cards.
How will your product or service generate money? How much money will it generate? How much does it cost to produce your product or service? How do you intend to pay operational costs and employees? These, and others, are critical question you need to answer in planning your small business’ financial future.
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.
Expenses. These are the costs for operations that occur during the start-up phase. They include tax-deductible costs such as travel, payroll, rent, office supplies, marketing materials, etc. They also include initial organizational costs like legal fees and state incorporation fees. Many (but not all) of these costs are tax deductible, up to $5,000 in the first year of doing business. You can deduct the remaining costs in equal instalments over a period of 180 months (starting with the month in which your business opens).
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.
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.
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Promote a positive work environment and communicate. Surround yourself with good people, and take the time to engage and build a rapport with your team. Have established standards and clearly communicate your company’s vision through goals and objectives that help empower your staff. A simple tip – set up a standing meeting for coffee or lunch with individual employees. It seems simple, however, it’s often times the simple things that presents opportunities to engage with your team –to find out where things are at, what’s on their mind and keep aware of any issues. This also provides an informal surrounding that makes it comfortable for them to open up and share. When you and your employees are all committed and focused on the target, you have a higher probability of achieving it.
From time to time you will need to hire or fire an employee. Make sure you are aware of all state and federal laws that deal with employment equality and anti-discrimination laws in your area as they pertain to the hiring, firing, disciplining and treatment of employees.
Use a little old fashioned networking. Go to conferences, charity galas, meetings with complementary businesses and anywhere where your customers are likely to be highly concentrated. In other words: get out in public and interact with people. Use your friends connections to meet people who may be able to help you. This kind of interaction is very important for starting a business. You can’t exist in a vacuum after all.
You’ll also want a payments device that can accept mobile payments like Apple Pay, which is ultimately where everything is headed. Contactless (NFC) payments like Apple Pay are by far the best customer experience. They’re convenient, secure, and fast, so you can check people out in seconds. Having the latest and greatest payments processing technology allows you to securely accept any form of payment that comes across your counter.
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.
Choose a business structure that makes sense for your ownership arrangement, such as a partnership, if you’re starting your business with one friend. Consult a lawyer about the best structure for your particular circumstances.
Get an office. You will need a space from which to run your business. This can be a home office if you require little space and will not have employees, or it can require an entire workshop or warehouse. Look at renting in a low cost neighborhood or business incubators instead of a fancy address. Some universities make space available at a low rent for new business ventures based on an innovative scientific idea. It depends on what you will be doing and how big you intend your business to be. Make sure the space is coded and legal for how you intend to use it and within your budget.
Don’t go it alone. Tap into resources, such as small-business peers, mentors, and trade associations, that can help take some of the energy-draining trial and error out of starting and running your business.
To be successful in business you need to be organized. Organization will help you complete tasks and stay on top of things to be done. A good way to do this is to create a to-do list each day. As you complete each item, check it off your list. This will ensure that you’re not forgetting anything and you’re completing all the tasks that are essential to the survival of your business.
You do not necessarily need a full-time employee to handle financial responsibilities. For example, if you have a solid grasp on your inventory flow and cash flow management, you may only need a CPA when tax time comes around.
Consider using a credit control app. These are apps that help small businesses improve their cash flow through better management of day-to-day cash collection and customer credit control tasks. This would allow you to take-on new customers or monitor existing ones, chasing invoice payment or running cash collection more safely. There are several software providers that can help you with this such as iKMC from where you can also get a free trial.
Try to find the reason that your income has slowed and act accordingly. Look at your audience and situations. For example, ice cream won’t sell as well in the winter as it will in the summer. To circumvent this, you could serve something else that would do better in the winter, such as hot chocolate.
Develop a passion for learning. As your business changes and grows, you need to change and grow along with it — particularly as you transition to manager. The one common denominator you find in all successful business owners is a passion for learning.
Lack of funds, however, should not deter you from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams. You just need to have confidence in your idea and a clear vision about how you are going to execute it. Once you have that covered, getting the funds to support your dream may not be as difficult as it seems.