Get the basics right and you’ll be in good shape for the long run.
8 min read
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Whether you’re thinking about starting your own business or need to reignite that fire, you’re probably searching for the right advice. You need advice that you are likely to be able to actually incorporate into your schedule.
There’s definitely no shortage of amazing advice out there. But, as I battle tested as an entrepreneur, here are the 10 small-business tips that have led me to success.
1. Get started on the right foot.
Before getting too far ahead of yourself, make sure that you start your small business on the right foot. It won’t guarantee that your business will thrive, but it will reduce the chances of it failing. So, how exactly can you get your business started the right way?
- Be passionate about what you do. This is going to keep you pushing forward during any rough patches.
- Start your business while you still have a full-time job so you’ll have money to survive until your business takes off. Set aside some cash so that you don’t have to borrow as much.
- Don’t go it alone. Entrepreneurs have this mindset that they have to do everything on their own. That’s not the case. You’re going to need support from your friends and family, and advice from mentors.
- Build traction. Start building a customer base before officially launching.
- Write your business plan. Your business plan is going to guide you throughout the entire life of your business.
- Do your homework. Conduct market research to better understand your industry and target audience. Become an expert on your industry, products and services.
- Bring in the pros. For example, if you’re not an accountant, hire a CPA to handle this area of your business. Don’t waste dollars trying to save pennies doing jobs you aren’t qualified for.
- Get the money lined up. Start looking for ways to fund your business, such as through peer-to-peer lenders or investors, before you’re in a real cash crunch.
- Become a professional. Start by getting business cards, a business phone number and an email address. Always treat people in a courteous and professional manner.
- Get your legal and tax issues in order. You’ll save yourself a ton of time, money and headaches down the road if you get your legal and tax responsibilities right from the get-go.
2. Learn from and connect with other businesses.
Visit your competition, introduce yourself and develop a good relationship with them. Refer customers to them when it makes sense and don’t be afraid to ask them for help or advice. Even though you and your competitors are offering similar products or services, you each have your own specialization. Instead of fearing that competition, give them credit for what they excel at. Believe it or not, that will be reciprocated.
3. Address excuses.
Even though starting your own business can be exciting, it can also be one of the scariest choices you’ll make in your life. Because of the risk involved and the fear of failure, most people never follow their dreams. This is a shame since you don’t want to someday regret you never took that leap of faith.
Instead of letting these excuses control your life, you need to address them ASAP. If not, you’ll never start your own business. One way to move forward is to work with a life coach who can provide you with actionable steps in getting started.
4. Become a leading authority figure in your industry.
Thanks to content marketing, it has never been easier to establish yourself as an authority figure and build trust among your potential customers. When they trust you, they’ll be more likely to support your business and refer it to others. You can also get some free publicity by being featured in leading publications, which in turn introduces your business to a new audience.
Simply put, if you want your business to succeed, you need to become a respected voice within your industry. You can achieve this by creating content like blog posts, podcasts, webinars, videos, infographics and case studies. Write guest blog posts and appear at as many industry events and conferences as possible.
5. Focus on your niche and delegate what you can.
As small-business owner, you’re already devoting a majority of your time and energy to starting and maintaining your business. Why would you make life even more hectic by spreading yourself too thin? Focus on your niche and stick with it. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel or diversity yourself too much. Focus on what you know, what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about it. It may sound hokey, but when you do, you’ll be on the path to success without adding any more stress to your life.
Trying to do everything on your own is a recipe for crashing and burning. To avoid burnout while growing your business, focus only on what you do best. As for the rest, like administrative tasks and customer support, delegate or outsource them to someone else.
Related: 8 Tasks You Should Delegate Today
6. Reduce overhead.
Sit down and create a budget so you can spot unnecessary expenses. If you’re spending thousands of dollars each month on an empty office, consider a co-working space or going completely virtual. This way you can offer more competitive pricing options and you will be much likely to have the sufficient cash when you run into a rough patch.
If you haven’t started your business just yet, then here are 25 expenses that are often overlooked. Be aware of these expenses and plan more accordingly.
7. Hire the right team.
Your employees are the foundation of your small business. Remember, they’re your biggest supports and advocates. As such, you should make sure that you hire the right team for your business.
While you obviously want to hire talented individuals who possess skills that you don’t, you also want to hire experts who are positive, flexible fans of your business. It helps if you get along with them as well. When you do, you’ll notice that you have a fun and productive work environment.
8. Be an information sponge.
Regardless if it’s your spouse, parents, friends or mentor, listen to what others have to say about your business. They may have a new idea or resolution to a problem, and their feedback could reflect what your customers think. If they’re not excited about your business, you may want to consider pivoting to something that does excite them.
Related: 6 Tips for Hearing Tough Feedback
9. Follow your intuition.
At the same time, trust your gut. There will be people who think you’re insane for leaving a decent gig to risk it all but, if this is the path that you choose, then stop hanging out with those naysayers. As Steve Jobs once said, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Related: Why ‘Trust Your Gut’ Is a Myth
10. Wow your customers.
Of course, you wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t for your customers. Thank them for their support by wowing them.
Most of the time that involves something like a coupon, discount, early access to an event/promotion or a freebie like a piece of content or swag. However, the easiest way to “wow” your customers is sending them a handwritten thank-you note. Not only is it the right thing to do, it also sets you apart. As Florence Isaacs explains in Just a Note to Say, “When you write, there is no response to distract you from reaching within and exploring exactly what you feel and want to say. There is no mechanical equipment to act as a barrier.”