If you are thinking of starting a new business, you’ve probably heard plenty of gloomy statistics about small business failure rates. Often, this can lead people to give up before they even begin. You may worry that the odds of success with a new startup are low.
You should not give up on your dream. Steps you take right from the start can help you become a successful small business owner, running a thriving, profitable company which serves both you and your customers. Discover practical strategies to start and run a successful business. Move forward successfully by following the steps listed below.
- Reflect on these Simple Questions
When you’re starting a business, it’s natural to be excited about what you’re doing. You will want to jump right into creating your first job right away. However, it pays to take the time to ask yourself some questions first so that you have clarity.
It is important to strategize what services and goods you are offering, what talents and skills you possess, and who your audience is. To gain the clarity you need, it’s best if you write the questions and answers down and save them to refer to later.
A. Why Are You Starting the Business?
It may seem obvious or unimportant, but this is a crucial question. If you answer something like “Because I hate my job and want to be my own boss” or “To make money”, that’s a good start, but push yourself further. Why this business? What attracted you to the idea? What will it look like at the end of its first year?
The idea here is to get clear picture about what’s important to you, where exactly your passion lies, and what the point of the whole venture is. As a small business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of paying bills, writing blogs and website copy, filling out tax forms, and so on. Don’t lose sight of the big picture.
B. What’s Your Service Offering?
Can you concisely describe what exactly do you do in 30 seconds? What is different from what other companies already do, and why will people love it? What sets your company apart? Answer these questions in clear and understandable verbiage. Imagine a scenario where you are talking to your neighbors at a barbecue and they asked you what you do, would they be able to easily understand your answer?
C. Who Will Buy Your Service?
Once you’re clear on what you’re offering, ask yourself who will buy it. Get as specific as possible here, creating detail. Describe a profile of your ideal customer, including their name, age, gender, personality, likes, dislikes, hobbies, dreams, and more.
D. What Are You Good At?
It helps if you’re good at what you want to do in your business. For example, if you’re setting up a web design studio, it would help if the answer to this question includes the phrase “designing websites”.
But to be successful in business, you’ll need other skills too. You’ll need to communicate, negotiate, promote your business, sell yourself and your products, keep the customers happy, stay organized, and much more.
Be painfully honest with yourself. What are you good at, and what are you not good at doing? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
If you identify areas of weakness, you’ll need to make a realistic plan for dealing with them. If you don’t have a head for math, perhaps you could partner with someone who does. Or you could hire an accountant, or improve your own skills by checking out some super-simple accounting tutorials or other training. If you’re not skilled at designing websites, hire someone to do it for you.
The key here is to make the most of your own strengths, and to make sure you get the necessary support to compensate for your weaknesses.
- Get Help in the Initial Start Up Phase
Speaking of getting support, you’ll need plenty of it if you’re starting a business. Other people have been there before and made many of the mistakes that are common among new business owners, and they can help you avoid them. They can also provide inspiration, help you develop strategy, and even introduce you to new opportunities.
A great way to do this is to find a mentor. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs have relied heavily on mentors and other successful business owners.
You could even appoint a “personal advisory board” of several trusted advisors. The support doesn’t end there. Join local business associations and networking groups and then reach out to them, and also to people on relevant social media or other websites. Don’t forget self-help either. Look for business proven and respected tutorials.
- Fund Your Dream Business
One of the main reasons for not starting a business is lack of startup funds and loans.
Lack of funding does not need to be a barrier. There are plenty of sources of business funding you could explore. You could also apply the bootstrapping approach “keeping expenses tight and developing your business with limited investment”. Starting small has many advantages, such as, to improve your learning through the experimental stage of your business. You can fine-tune your service without spending a lot of money.
Keep in mind that it can take some time for a business to become profitable. You can analyze how long it will take for you to break even in your business.
Even if you’ve created a model and think you’ve got enough cash reserves saved, it is worth exploring a loan source for unexpected expenses or growth that will require cash.
A comfortable cushion would be helpful in case things don’t pan out as expected. It’s much easier and less expensive to arrange funding when times are good than it is when you’re desperate. Of course, you don’t want to be paying interest on unnecessary debt either, but there are funding options, for example, lines of credit that you pay only if you activate them. It is worth researching your loan options early on.
- Jump-Start Cash Flow
When people are just starting, they often focus on keeping expenses tight because they don’t want to burn through their initial funds too quickly.
That’s a valid strategy, but another way to free up more money for the business, of course, is to get revenue coming in quickly.
In a service-based business, you can structure service agreements so that customers agree to pay negotiated amounts on specific milestones or dates, instead of the total amount at the end of the service. You can offer special discounts and/or limited time offers to obtain access to payments made early and on time.
The more money you can get coming through the door in the early days, the quicker you can break even on your original investment, and the more funds you’ll have available to invest in future growth.
- Get the Word Out
For a small new business, there’s an obvious problem: nobody knows your business exists.
Overcoming this problem is easier than it used to be thanks to marketing opportunities on the internet. Many of these opportunities, of course, are free or low cost, but don’t forget that your time is also an investment. Don’t make the mistake of signing up for every website service out there and letting your valuable time dribble away in the world of social media. Instead, get strategic. Develop a marketing plan that identifies what you want to achieve and sets out new customer goals.
- Hold Yourself Accountable
Maintain detailed financial records, customer records, social media engagements, and most importantly…a working calendar of commitments and deadlines.
Choose some key business metrics that are closely aligned to your overall business goals then track them on a regular basis. Examples to track: customer prospect leads, number of customers, and quality of service provided. Step by step, you will be able to build upon these key numbers.
Maintain a simple monthly checklist of the most important items and hold yourself accountable to meeting that criteria. You should use the data from your checklists to keep your business plan constantly updated.
- Grow and Diversify
Often, a business starts out with one service. Maybe you do janitorial work, it can be tempting to stick to doing what you do well, but that can also be dangerous, particularly in a world of fast-moving competitors. Multiple income streams in other areas such as carpet cleaning or window cleaning can provide a more stable source of income should one service drop off. The second service offering can make up the difference in revenue. Do not put all your eggs in one basket. It is important to reduce your risk with any business, including Executive Image Building Services.
Key to Small Business Success
All businesses need satisfied customers who use more and more of your services. A willingness to learn from others is a key factor. Smart business owners are open to new approaches to improve services or reduce costs.