You pour your heart and soul into your small business. It’s your livelihood and your pet project all at once, so undoubtedly you’ll do just about anything to see it succeed. Yet even with all this personal investment and motivation, a lot of small business owners are missing out on some of the basic ingredients of success. With that in mind, we wanted to take a look at five small but vital things all such businesses should have if they want to survive and thrive.
1. Business Contents Insurance
Business contents insurance is just what it sounds like: insurance protection for the physical contents of your business. This can include anything from the personal items people bring to work, to the equipment and décor of the actual workspace. Our previous post on the benefits of this type of coverage can help you understand more about why you should have it: the peace of mind it affords you, an efficient means of getting back to business and usual in the event of damage or theft, and so on. But suffice it to say, your small business needs this type of coverage in case of emergencies, on or off site.
2. SEO Marketing Effort
Search engine optimisation means using the right combination of specific, popular keywords, link building, and other strategies to generate web traffic for your business and improve your placement in search results. The ultimate goal is to show up near the top of people’s Google search results, so that your website gets more engagement. And naturally, the more web traffic you see, the more chance you’ll have to convert page visitors into customers. So using good content and optimising that content and your website is essential. Understanding the technical aspects of SEO and covering specific practices like content creation and link development should be included in your marketing strategy.
3. People Management Strategy
When you first start your business, you’ll be able to personally handle everything, including reviewing résumés and conducting interviews with every potential employee. Yet as your business grows, it will get harder for you to stay on top of managing the expanding talent pool, as you handle your other duties. This means that you’ll need a strategy for dealing with employee hiring, training, and firing, along with any other staffing needs that may come up (and rest assured, there will be some unpredictable ones!). Your plan may involve an employee dedicated to this task (essentially your own HR department) or spending your own time on it and delegating other work as needed. However, you choose to confront the problem though, be sure to develop a specific plan early on so that you’re prepared for growth if and when it happens.
4. Financial Planning
Perhaps more important than anything else is to develop a sound plan for managing cash flow and the cost of doing business, so that you avoid early financial trouble. It may not come as a huge surprise to hear it, but The Telegraph has stated that start-ups need more careful management to survive. They are coming unstuck due to basic managerial and financial concepts, including cashflow management. Be sure to make this a top priority, and not just in the sense that you’re vaguely monitoring profit. Besides making sure you’re collecting payments on time and covering the costs you need to generate and fulfill business, you also need to manage more long-term finances. When will equipment need to be replaced? What will it cost you to onboard a new employee? Have you figured out your customer acquisition cost? These are just a few of many questions that a lot of first-time small business owners don’t think to address until too late.
5. Efficient Communication
In our digital age, don’t be surprised to discover that customers expect that you to be available more or less all the time. In some cases this can mean that if they’re unable to reach you, or they can’t get an answer to a question, they’ll head off to find another company to work with. To avoid these kinds of issues that our fast-paced modern economy has given rise to, you’ll need to set up a communications infrastructure and system that allows for the most efficient possible back-and-forth with customers. The specific form this takes is up to you. It could mean anything from an elaborate system of alerts and reminders, to specific workplace communication software, to the decision to hire a secretary. One way or another though, don’t forget to factor efficient communication into your plans.
Ultimately, these strategies can help you create a small business that will thrive. Certainly there are many other challenges and things to address, some of which no guide or advice will prepare you for. But addressing these five important strategies to set your business up for success is well worth the effort.
written by Jennifer Birch for tapoly