Starting a business can be overwhelming: doing research, determining viability, securing financing, purchasing office space, designing branding, hiring employees, making contacts, registering your business, the list goes on and on.
Learning to run a business can be difficult and is an ongoing process. You will learn best practices not only from research but also from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others. It is important to be proactive in learning different aspects of business.
Attending professional development training, workshops, and webinars will develop your skills tremendously and make you a steadfast leader. Knowing what and what not to do when opening a business is a great way to start, so here are some dos and don’ts for business success.
Take control of your business
Taking control of your business means knowing what’s happening outside your business as well as what’s going on internally. Knowing, researching, and studying any external factors that could affect your business will help prepare your business for future success.
Many business owners focus completely on the daily operations and forget to adapt to external factors such as changing markets or demographics. Keeping up with external changes, whether environmental, economical, political or legal, will help you keep in control of your business and be better prepared to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Manage your employees
Your employees represent your business. Communication to your employees is key. Through proper training, policies and procedures, and regular meetings, your employees will be properly prepared to be on the front line of your business, ready to explain the value of your products or services to the customer. Motivation is another important aspect of managing your employees as it ensures they are happy with their positions and they can take pride in their work.
Understand your financials
Financial statements provide information about your business’s current financial position, changes in your financial position and overall performance. For you to make appropriate decisions for the business, you must first understand your financial position. Analyzing your financials will allow you to decide on any changes needed such as adjustments in price, contracts with suppliers, and purchases of new equipment or assets.
You should make yourself familiar with the cashflow statement, income statement, and balance sheet. Remember, your financial statements are vitally important; without them, you wouldn’t know if you’re making a profit or taking a loss.
Know your customers
Successful entrepreneurs understand the wants, wishes, and buying behaviors of specific individuals they want as customers. They have analyzed the size of the market and the number of potential customers that fit the target profile. Furthermore, they know who their customers are, including their likes and dislikes.
When you know specifically what buyers want, you can build and deliver the precise solutions to meet customers’ needs. Savvy business owners also offer their products at the right locations, at the right price, and with the appropriate warranties. They deliver the right features and support to create positive buying experiences.
Plan for the future
Creating success relies on planning for the future. Strategic planning processes define your organization’s strategy or direction, and can help you make decisions on how to use your available resources to implement this strategy. To determine the future direction of your company, you must understand its current position and the possible avenues through which you can pursue particular courses of action.
When you own a small business, you will find tasks and paperwork can pile up on your desk. Putting it off is like piling up debt; eventually, those unattended tasks could overwhelm you. If you don’t stay on top of everything, it looks unprofessional to employees, suppliers, vendors, or anyone else who does business with you.
Sloppy or ineffective marketing
Contrary to popular belief, few products or services sell themselves. If you don’t have time to market effectively, hire an experienced person to do it for you. Marketing keeps your products or services selling and money flowing into your business. It’s crucial that you do it well.
Ignoring customer needs
Once you attract customers, you have to work hard to keep them. Customer service should be a key aspect of your business. If you don’t follow through with your customers, they’ll find someone who will.
Even the best restaurant or retail store can fail if it is in the wrong place. When you’re scouting a location for your firm, consider factors such as traffic and convenience. How many potential customers pass your business during the course of a day? If your location is somewhere with very low traffic, people may not even know your business exists or they may easily forget about it if they don’t see it often. How difficult is it for your regular customers to get to your location on a regular basis? You want to be sure your business is easily accessible to all potential customers.
A closed mind
Everyone goes into business with some preconceptions; don’t be surprised if you find many of yours are wrong. Look for mentors who can give you advice. Run your ideas by them before you make important financial commitments. Read books and magazines about small business. Visit business-related websites and network with your peers in the business community.