Coming up with a great new idea or following a deeply held passion is the exciting part of business. Tackling the practical aspects—everything from managing a budget and finding serviced and virtual office solutions to dealing with legal issues—is the daunting part. Especially when you’re just starting out.
Guide for New Small Business Owners
How can you expect to survive and thrive when so much is unknown? To start, focus on the following six business survival basics:
Identify your goals and challenges
Take account of your current situation, including cash flow, costs, income, and challenges. Use a SWOT analysis to understand where your strengths are, where your weaknesses lie, what opportunities present themselves, and what threats to avoid.
With that in mind, use the SMART framework to develop goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Finally, define KPIs to track your progress toward those realistic goals.
Write up the necessary legal documents
To minimize your risk of legal issues, establish clear and enforceable rules for your business relationships and transactions. These include contracts, agreements, and policies that proactively protect your business from potential disputes.
You can use templates, samples, and online platforms to draft these legal documents. To ensure they’re watertight and completed quickly and efficiently, reach out to qualified business lawyers in your area. In either case, review and update your documents periodically to ensure they reflect any legislative changes.
Manage your finances
When you stay on top of your finances, you lay the foundation for a stable business, avoiding debt traps and bankruptcy while optimizing your path to growth and profitability. To start, draw up a realistic budget. Keep track of income, expenses, and cash flow while finding ways to reduce costs, boost revenue, and secure extra capital for growth. Use accounting software to streamline bookkeeping, invoicing, and taxation. If it’s all a bit much, reach out to a tax professional.
Build and spread your brand identity
Create a professional image for your business that stays consistent across all channels – this will enhance your brand awareness and recognition. Central to your brand identity are your unique selling propositions. What differentiates you from the competition?
Use storytelling, logo design, slogans, and social proof to communicate that difference to your target audience. Create a website, post on social media, and undertake interviews to spread the word and build an engaged community that trusts you.
Give excellent customer service
When people reach out with questions, concerns, and feedback, listen carefully and resolve issues promptly. Reward loyal customers and encourage them to give referrals. This not only retains existing customers, but it also attracts new ones through positive word-of-mouth referrals.
Tools such as surveys, reviews, testimonials, and ratings can be valuable sources of customer feedback. In addition, discounts, coupons, and loyalty programs can be great ways to spread awareness of your budding business.
Cultivate a strong team
Building a team that’s skilled, motivated, and committed to your vision and goals is essential to success. A strong team boosts productivity, efficiency, and quality while reducing turnover and absenteeism. Invest in employees—your most valuable asset—by hiring the right people, training them well, and creating a positive work environment.
Alongside empowering your staff to tackle new projects and responsibilities, reward them for achievements—either through extrinsic rewards like bonuses or intrinsic rewards like personal recognition.
Starting a small business is exciting, but there’s no getting around the fact that you will face challenges. Thankfully, if you focus on your goals, compose strong legal documents, manage your finances, build your brand identity, give excellent customer service, and cultivate a strong team, you’ll be well-placed to survive the initial years—and thrive in years to come.
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