Many people dream of starting their own business, but only a few manage to follow through on that dream and turn it into a success. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of new businesses fail within their first two years.
In order to make sure your business is one that succeeds, check out these tips for starting a small business.
1. Get Organized
You can’t run a successful business if you are disorganized. When you are starting out, you will have to take on a lot of the work yourself, including staying on top of financial records, keeping track of legal paperwork, and managing employees.
Get in the habit of keeping detailed records of your business, including everything from registering your name and copyright, to the deed for your office or brick and mortar location, if you have one. You can use technology to help keep you organized by backing up your files on the cloud or Google drive, and by using online faxing services to stay on top of your legal paperwork. And don’t forget to also keep hard copies of everything important, stored somewhere safe.
2. Keep an Eye on Your Competition
In today’s crowded markets, chances are there is already a business out there doing something similar, if not the same as the company you are starting. Study and learn from your competitors to see what they are doing that works and what doesn’t. For example, a local restaurant could use a food delivery service or even a supplier that could be beneficial to your establishment as well. On the flip side, you might find customers are unhappy with that delivery service, so you then know to look for an alternative with lower fees and more reliable staff.
You can monitor your competition through social media, word of mouth, or even by surveying your customers to see what other businesses they frequent and their experiences there.
3. Make Specific Goals for Yourself
You may have a long-term goal for your business, and that’s great! But you also need to focus on the here and now, and how you will achieve your current goals. Break down tasks into easier steps: goals for each quarter of your business, for the overall year, for the next five years, and for the next ten. Ideally, your smaller goals will help you make your way to the big ones.
For example, if you have launched an online store and want to eventually move to a brick and mortar location, you should calculate how much money you need to make to be able to sustain that and then set sales goals for yourself. Those annual sales goals may also break down into how many new customers you need to acquire, which will give you a target to work towards each quarter. Each step will bring you closer to your overall goal but in much more manageable steps.
4. Stay Flexible
Small business owners need to constantly be on the lookout for new solutions to your business challenges. As an owner, you will need to think on your toes and solve problems for yourself, but also for your employees and our customers. No matter how much you’ve planned your strategy, challenges will inevitably come along, such as a supplier going out of business, an increase in shipping costs, or a flood in your store.
You will need to find creative solutions to your problems and adapt to the new norm, whatever it may be. For example, if you’re paying a lot of overhead costs on an office, you might want to make a virtual workplace and transfer the thousands you’re paying in rent back into your company while supporting your staff remotely.
5. Build the Right Team
Entrepreneurs can’t go it alone forever. No matter what your business is, whether it’s a store, app, or service, you will need to build a solid team to get your company to where it needs to be. Invest in getting the right people in the roles and carefully vet potential employees and contractors so that you know you are relying on people you can trust. Once you have the right team in place, you can lighten your workload and delegate tasks and responsibilities.
It’s important to make sure your employees feel valued. Work with them to grow their career along with your business, and help them reach their personal goals as well. Many employees at start-ups will feel a passion and connection to the business, and their roles will adapt and grow as the company does too. As the boss, it’s your duty to make sure the team gets everything they need to do the best job possible.