Whether you are tired of dealing with a demanding boss or are looking to change your career, the benefits of running your own small business are endless. For example, they allow you to develop the perfect work-life balance or turn your passions and interests into profit.
Whatsmore, in recent years, the public support for small businesses has grown ever-stronger, with 46% of consumers stating that they prefer to support small businesses over industry giants. This means that now is the perfect time to turn your dreams into reality and start your own company. Nevertheless, there are still various challenges associated with this venture that you must be able to work around quickly if you want your business to thrive instead of fading into obscurity.
With that in mind — here are some of the steps you can take to ensure success for your small business:
- Keep your employees happy. Whether you work with a team of ten employees or one hundred, prioritizing staff satisfaction is key to securing the longevity of your business. This is due to the fact that happy, engaged employees are more focused, as employee wellbeing correlates with workplace productivity in more ways than one. Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can improve employee happiness — such as by taking on their feedback or curating an employee reward scheme. These tasks will also ensure maximum employee retention, which also fuels the growth of your business as you have to spend less time hiring new staff.
- Remember that organization is key. Poor organization is one of the main reasons why small businesses fail, as it is easy for you (and your team) to get overwhelmed if you are not working with clear goals and structures in mind. Fortunately, this is easy to remedy. For example, you can use a weekly schedule template to help you better manage your time and ensure that everyone remains on track.
- Work on your business plan. By now, you are probably well aware of the fact that the right business plan allows for faster growth as it allows you to measure your success at each junction of your company’s journey. For example, you can use your business plan to set targets and figure out what steps you need to take to achieve them. As a result, your business plan should be in a near-constant state of change as you incorporate new data and knowledge as you grow. For example, if you are aware you are not racing your sales targets, you should edit your plan with the steps you will take to remedy this.
- Have something new to offer. No matter what industry your business operates within, you are going to have competition. As a result, you need to give potential customers a reason to buy a product or service from your brand as opposed to one of your competitors. The easiest way to do this is by ensuring that your brand is unique — and that you bring something new to the table. This is known as your USP (unique selling proposition) and will help you differentiate your brand from others and can propel your business towards success.
- Keep consumer trends in mind. The key to business survival is building a strong customer base, which means you need to pay close attention to consumer behaviors and desires. This way, you will be able to make impactful changes that not only expand your customer base, but also ensure you retain clients. For example, 4 out of 5 people say that they only want to support eco-friendly brands, meaning you must make a real effort to make your business more eco-conscious moving forward.
- Do not lose focus. Running your own business can be stressful, but it is vital that you are able to relieve some of the pressure you put yourself under. Otherwise, you will quickly become overwhelmed and overworked, meaning you will lack focus and drive. On difficult days, remember why you started and how far you have come while also giving yourself the grace to understand that we all need a break from time to time.
- Manage your money wisely. Money management is a vital life skill, but when running a business, good money management is fundamental to your success. After all, poor money management could lead to overspending that forces you to close your business or go into debt. As a result, you should ensure that you know how to handle business finances ahead of time. If this is not your area of expertise, consider hiring an accountant who can handle the more complex tasks on your behalf.
- Respond to customer complaints. We all make mistakes from time to time, but it is vital that you hold yourself accountable when these mistakes lead to customer complaints. As a result, as opposed to ignoring (or worse, deleting) customer complaints, you should respond to them in a polite and timely manner. You should also offer some kind of solution, such as a refund, where appropriate. This shows the customer (and other customers who come across the negative review) that you care about your customers, not just their wallets. To put it simply, accountability is key.
- Focus on good customer service. No matter how good your products/services may be, poor customer service will only lead to disaster for your business. Consequently, you should make good customer service a priority across the board. All employees in customer-facing roles should be provided with training that enables them to carry out their duties to the highest possible standard while also developing skills they will need to deal with difficult customers, such as conflict resolution. Focusing on customer service will allow you to build customer loyalty and trust.
- Do not rest on your success. Following a successful product launch or a period of high sales, it is easy to buy into the idea that you will always enjoy this level of success. However, resting on your previous successes means that you are not being as innovative as you should be. Customer expectations are continuously fluctuating, and something that makes them happy one day might not cut it the next. As a result, you should always be looking into the future and thinking about what you can do next. What new products can you create? How can you enhance the customer experience? How can you improve your services?
- Take care of your own well-being. As mentioned previously, it is normal to feel stressed from time to time when running a business. However, it is also vital that you take care of your own well-being, and encourage your staff to do the same. Not only is this important from a moral standpoint, but when you are in a good place, your work will be better. Thankfully, there are various ways you can make well-being a priority, such as by focusing on curating an excellent work-life balance, taking a break, and following a healthy lifestyle. For your employees, you should have employee wellness program in place.
- Know what to do when things go wrong. Even the most successful businesses stumble from time to time — meaning that the odd mistake can not detract from your overall success if you know how to respond to it. For example, your business plan (as mentioned above) should factor in your plans for what you are going to do when things do not go your way. For example, if you record low sales one month — what will you do the next? This could include changing your marketing campaign or lowering prices.
- Get your name out there. Visibility is also key when it comes to guaranteeing that your business succeeds — after all, how can customers buy anything from you if they cannot find you? In this day and age, the easiest way to improve brand recognition is to work on your online presence. This means you should have a compelling website up and running sooner rather than later that uses SEO tactics to boost traffic (and, by extension, sales). However, you should also make sure that you know how to manage your company’s social media. After all, a professional social media account functions a little differently from your personal account, as you have to make sure your engagement correlates to sales or increased brand recognition.
- Back yourself. Whether you are networking or reaching out to investors, if you want your brand to succeed, you need to believe that it will. Self-doubt or a lack of confidence in your brand will only drive away potential customers and could also stop you from putting your all into the project. The more confident you are, the easier it will be for others to be confident in your brand too — which will give you the boost you need to grow.
In short, there are many steps you can take to put your business on the path to success, even when faced with various challenges. However, the most important thing you can do during this time is to keep working. When you hit a roadblock, do not consider it the end of the road. Instead, it is a resting point where you can re-group, refocus and find a new route to the top of that mountain.