Starting a new business is not much different from starting a new relationship: it's an emotional, stressful, and exciting time. You want your small business venture to succeed, but sometimes it's difficult to know where to focus your energies. Follow these five tips to build a successful, future-proof small business.
1. Build an Online Marketing Strategy -- Even If You Don't Sell Online
Just because you operate in the real world doesn't mean you should ignore the virtual world.
Maybe you've started an antique shop or a corner store. Your customers walk through your front doors and use real shopping carts -- not the digital ones you find in online marketplaces. Even so, you shouldn't ignore an online marketing strategy.
Writing for Inc magazine, Boostability CEO Travis Thorpe names the lack of an online marketing strategy as the number one reason small businesses fail. Consumers use the Internet to talk to one another about products they like, find service businesses, and research potential purchases. If they don't find you, they'll find your competitors.
Set up social media accounts and manage them effectively. Start a blog, advertise on industry websites, and get involved in online forums. Most importantly, make sure you have an attractive, responsive website for potential customers to find.
2. Create a Five-Year Financial Plan -- With Backup Options
Every small business owner dreams of slipping right into the black from day one and staying there for the life of their business. Unfortunately, it's not always that simple. Creating a five-year financial plan allows you to peer into the future and anticipate problems.
You'll also want backup options if you run into cash flow issues. This is why it's essential to build a healthy relationship with a local small business banking institution. If you need a business loan or line of credit, you'll have a willing and knowledgeable lending partner in your corner.
3. Know Your Weaknesses...
Maybe you don't like conflict, so you refuse to fire even the least-effective employee. Perhaps you're risk-averse, so you never take chances -- even when they might pay off in a big way.
Get to know yourself completely when you go into business. Recognizing your weaknesses will help you find ways to overcome them. If you're too nice, for instance, and you hate conflict, practice congenial ways to deliver bad news and constructive criticism.
4. ...But Know Your Strengths, Too
Can you stretch a dollar around the block six times and still have 50 cents left over? Leverage your frugal instincts to make your small business successful.
If you know your strongest skills and talents, you can leverage them to benefit your small business. Whether it's your slam-dunk sales skills, your organizational prowess, or your head for numbers, put it to good use.
5. Cultivate Leadership
You must exhibit strong leadership skills if you want to lead your small business to success, but you also want to surround yourself with leaders. Your sales clerk, your accountant, your supply vendors, and your shipping employees must know how to take initiative and inspire others.
If you teach your employees how to be leaders, they won't just work for you -- they'll work to make your business as successful as possible because they care about their role in your organization.
Not all small businesses find success. However, if you can maintain your cash flow and surround yourself with the right people, you have a better than average chance of avoiding failure.
It all starts with the right small business banking partner. Take a minute to contact us and learn about the ways we can help your small business flourish.