These tips for managing a small business are a useful reminder, whether you’ve just launched a startup or you’re already up and running.
The freedom that comes with owning a business is exciting and daunting at the same time. There are so many balls to juggle, pitfalls to avoid and opportunities to seize!
However, no matter where your expertise lies and no matter how long you have been in business for, there is always so much more to learn.
With this in mind, take a look at some tips to help you get your small business where you want it to be.
Small business tip #1: Have a plan
The single most important role of the CEO, Founder, Director, or whatever you decide to call yourself, is to set and drive the direction, goals and strategy of the company. Without a clear plan, it will be hard to allocate resources, stay focused and motivate employees.
You may enjoy getting into the details of the client work but is that always the best use of your time? Delegate what you can so you can concentrate on managing the big picture stuff such as:
- Analysing quarterly business results
- Setting quarterly, half-yearly and yearly goals
- Staying on top of the finances of your business
- Keeping employees engaged and empowered to achieve more
Consider using automated workflow tools such as Zapier or Hubspot to help streamline the more routine tasks of your business. This will free up your time so you can focus on strategic thinking. It will also give your employees more time to generate revenue for the business.
Small business tip #2: Focus on finances
Cash is oxygen for your business.
Rule number one as a business owner is to keep your personal and business finances separate. Blurring the lines will cause tax and audit headaches. Keeping everything in separate accounts will make it easier to keep proper track of your profits and expenses so you can stay in control.
While you need the help of an accountant and bookkeeper, it’s also important to monitor your financial progress yourself.
Invest in accounting software, delegate invoicing and accounts payable tasks to your bookkeeper and set monthly review meetings with your accountant. Be disciplined with your finances and always set money aside for tax bills and regular expenses like payroll.
Good financial management requires constant effort. Review your budget regularly. Are you getting the best ROI on your outgoings? Is your business suffering from ‘subscription creep’? How could a loan help to increase revenue and profits? Work with your team to identify ways to improve your business’s financial health.
Small business tip #3: Keep your staff motivated
Engaged employees are productive and loyal. Involve your team in decision-making and tell them how the company is doing. Wherever possible, give them the work/life flexibility that will get the best out of them.
Make a point of creating a positive work environment that recognises achievements and rewards success. Regular, personal one-on-one coffee check-ins with each employee are great for keeping the passion for the company alive.
A popular book for small business owners to read is Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead. It gives great insights based on extensive research into how you can become a leader people love to follow.
Another tip in this area is to have a ‘why’, beyond simply making money. For example, the mission statement of online eyewear brand Warby Parker is “to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses”. For this brand, it’s not just about profits. They have distributed millions of pairs of glasses through their ‘buy a pair, give a pair’ program.
Small business tip #4: Promote your business
Whether your business is service or product-based, you will need a solid marketing strategy and unique brand.
Marketing can take many forms and doesn’t need to cost the earth. Make your advertising and promotional budget work for you by using a combination of:
- Social media including your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
- Strategically targeted email and/or printed mailers to existing and potential customers
- Tactical special offers
- Networking events and industry forums/business fairs
- Testimonials and word of mouth—a happy client is a great reference
- Traditional advertising mediums like newspapers, radio or television
As a small-business owner, you’ll be pulled in many different directions. Consider engaging a marketing consultant if this is outside your area of expertise. It will save you time and money in the long run to work with someone who has clear ideas of the strategies that will work for you.
Marketing is never an exact science or a set and forget exercise. Try something, measure your results and if it doesn’t work, try something else.
Small business tip #5: Invest in the future
As chief planner and strategist of your company, where do you want to take your business in the future? What do you want it to look like in three months, one year, five years? Without those visionary goals, it will be harder to motivate employees and make sure your business innovates and thrives.
As part of your financial management, you should set aside cash for future growth opportunities and investments. However, there may come a point where you need additional capital in order to achieve the growth you know is possible. In this case, shore up your finances with a loan. This will give you the flexibility to expand. You can also set the extra cash aside to use as a buffer in lean times.
It’s much easier to get a loan when your financials are in good order. Focus on getting your sales into ‘flow’, then start thinking about how you can leverage your great work for further success.
Read more: Steps for Success in Securing a Loan
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Disclaimer: The information above is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information relates to your particular circumstances. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information.
Content prepared by an external writer covering topics that may be of interest to our customers. The content does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Finance One.