Truth be told, there is no magic formula or a Holy Grail that helps small businesses grow although many of the success stories in the world of business today trace their evolution to specific strategies to identify and reach new opportunities, markets, and consumers outside the comfort zone. Some successful small business owners say that their ability to plan for growth from the scratch was pivotal to their expansion, while many credit their mentors for providing the right information at exactly the moment it was meaningful and relevant.
These small business owners have moved beyond just selling their product to confidently and smartly embracing their business itself. They do this day after day by working on their business instead of being wholly in their business. These are the entrepreneurs that have realized how to price their products and services competitively against the competitors and how much these products and services cost to produce at numerous levels. And they also understand their market segment good enough to understand who their peers are and who they aren’t. Remember, successful entrepreneurs aren’t always exceptional at everything but they are indeed great to identify what they need, how to get the work done, how to plan for them, and how to ensure the results are always in line with the expectations and requirements.
As an entrepreneur, you should always remember the proverb, “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.” Each word of this proverb is worth its weight in gold. This is simply because planning for the success of your business is the biggest factor that would decide whether you are running a profitable organization or an organization on life support.
Before we read about the 12 essential pieces of small business advice, here are 5 do’s and don’ts for you.
The Five Do's:
Do #1: Keep innovating and never rest on your laurels.
Do #2: Be a sponge, absorb good suggestions from everyone, including your consumers, subordinates, and vendors. Don’t be shy to ask for them and don’t take a suggestion from someone junior to you in age or experience as an offense. Respect every suggestion!
Do #3: Plan for success and keep measuring your progress every now and then.
Do #4: Running a business takes more than money – hire the best employees and never forget to keep them happily engaged.
Do #5: Build strong and mutually-beneficial business relationships with everyone.
The Five Don’ts:
Don’t 1: Diversify – don’t rely on only a few customers.
Don’t 2: Avoid underestimating the significance of effective financial management.
Don’t 3: Stay updated and relevant to the market events.
Don’t 4: Don’t leave planning for contingencies until it’s too late.
Don’t 5: Don’t delay getting help.
Essential Pieces of Small Business Advice
1: Be A Solution
One of the biggest mistakes that are made by a huge majority of small business entrepreneurs is that they overthink the idea of what to sell instead of shifting their focus on what the product will solve. Remember, it is always easy to evoke and retain the attention of consumers when your product is offering a solution to a problem faced by them. In short, your small business should fill a hole in a specific niche or market.
The point is to clearly, precisely, and accurately find out what is the unique selling proposition of your brand and products that benefit the consumers in a unique way. You can surely create a profitable brand by first understanding your motives and it will then be extremely easy to market your business.
- Imagine Yourself With Absolutely No Money
Yes, just think about it! Nothing to bring you down or disappoint you but strange things happen before you can even blink your eyes. There is a probability that you can find yourself with no money on one bad day.
Every year, thousands if not millions of startups (usually small businesses) hit the market and they vanish like they never existed in a year or two of their inception. What if this happens to you too? Are you ready to face and come out of something like this? What’s your backup plan B, C, D, and so on? If you haven’t planned for the worst, you should do it right now. Develop a plan “just in case the worst happens“. This may mean you going without the comforts that you are so used to or getting a job on-the-fly or something very different. At the day end, you must be prepared for all the possible “good and bad situations” that may happen to you and your business.
- Go Grassroots
A report by Nielsen found that consumers even in today’s tech-savvy world are 90 percent more likely to trust and try a brand recommended by relatives, colleagues, family, or friends. This means that while there is nothing wrong to put a sizeable portion of your marketing budget to tactics such as email campaigns, direct mails, and digital advertising, you should not ignore or underestimate the value and power of word-of-mouth recommendations.
The crux is: local engagement and partnerships still bring the desired results. Small business owners should capitalize on identifying and exploring opportunities to engage with their communities using different ways to create and nurture brand awareness. For this, you may try out sharing educational demonstrations or how-to-use videos or encouraging existing consumers to share their valuable feedback, suggestions, etc. with their friends, colleagues, and communities.
- Let Go of Full Control
Entrepreneurs don’t have to do everything on their own and the best tip anyone can give to them is to let go. More specifically, you should be open to letting go of control over things you are not good at. Don’t hesitate to lean on others for assisting you with things that you don’t like or on which you spend countless hours.
- Learn The Art Of Decluttering Your Business
Anything that isn’t guiding your small business to be a healthier, more productive and happier place to be should go. Whether it is a client who is hellbound to drain more than their fair and reasonable share of files or old papers or resources or an employee who is not pulling their weight while everyone is compensating, let it go! You must strive to become a more confident and a better decision-maker in business and life while removing all kinds of unwanted physical, emotional, mental, and professional clutter in your workplace and your headspace.
- Speak Up About Your Business
Believe it or not, many small business owners are clueless when it comes to how and whom to sell their products. You need to get over your fear of what consumers will think about your business. Remember, it will be difficult for you to make money with consumers if you cannot convince them to support your business and buy from you.
Entrepreneurs cannot afford to be shy as they need to “put themselves out there” for nurturing brand awareness and create & maintain demand for their offerings. You must always communicate from negotiating with suppliers to networking with customers and clients.
- Fail fast and pivot often
The word “failure” may appear counterintuitive when it comes to the growth prospects of your business but playing it all safe is not a good strategy as it may stall your progress. This is especially true for small businesses that rely heavily on developing new tools or technologies. For this, you can simply opt for expanding the sales strategy or adopt new technologies as you introduce new products. You can even try identifying key performance indicators for determining business and customer impact.
- Never Lose Sight Of The Bigger Picture
With cutthroat competition all over you, it is easy to get caught up working in the business and forget to work on the business. It is extremely important that you create enough opportunities to stay proactive at all times along with addressing immediate problems. For this, you should ideally attend industry-leading development events, read up on the latest trends, network with other business leaders and entrepreneurs.
- Hire For Attitude
You just cannot miss out on this one! You must always and forever hire people for attitude and train them for skill. After all, an employee who is hesitant or doesn’t want to stay updated and relevant or has a bad attitude is not going to benefit your organization, irrespective of his or her experience or skills.
- Document Everything Important
Every business should document all of its business processes. The business world has seen so many instances wherein one employee or manager is entrusted to perform the most critical of operations and everything comes to a halt when they leave the organization. No one else knows their tips, tricks, and methods and the business takes a hit. In a nutshell, you should emphasize on creating a book of standard operating methods and procedures so that fellow employees can follow them when someone goes on leave or not working with the organization for any reason.
- Automate To Focus On Critical Business Operations
The best small business management tip for entrepreneurs would be to automate as much of business processes and sub-processes as possible to free up your time. This would help you concentrate on the core and critical operations of your business. Mundane activities of the business should be replaced by the best in the world of business automation. By doing this, you would experience a significant impact on the bottom line of your business.
- Set Realistic And Stick To Them
It is critical to clearly define where your business wants to move ahead and what are the goals to be developed to ride that road. With the establishment of clear and realistic goals comes team alignment and transparency as everyone in the organization understands the goals and directions of the organization. In short, it is important for everyone in the organization to be on the same page so that your business is set up for success.
Today, every industry and segment is highly competitive and it would be right to say that every landscape is constantly evolving. Small businesses can make use of smart strategies and tips to stay relevant and successful to go ahead of their peers at the same time. These small business success tips and strategies would be equally effective to become globally competitive from the word go and innovate in numerous ways.