Opening a small business is a dream for many people. In many ways, it allows you to turn your passion into a viable career. What’s often disregarded however is the challenging process that comes with not only getting started, but staying afloat when things get difficult. This article is full of tips and tricks to make sure that you and your business remain successful during these difficult times.
If your workload is huge and you’re feeling run down…
Consider outsourcing some of your tasks to qualified contractors. Now, more than ever, outsourcing professional freelancers is extremely affordable and can save you a lot of stress and valuable time. There are hundreds of sites that allow you to filter through specialists to help you with anything from accounting to cleaning services. Although it may feel like every aspect of your business needs to be handled by you, it’s simply not the case. Fatigue makes you less productive, less attentive and more likely to make mistakes which can really harm both yourself and your business.
Another tactic you could try is adopting some organizational tools to help you with your time management. Take it upon yourself to download an online scheduling system, plan out your days, weeks and months in advance using these systems and watch what a difference it can make for you.
If you’re struggling to stand out from the competition…
Figure out why that may be by conducting some market research. Understanding your market, and where your business lies within it is vital for all marketing efforts. You can do this in a number of ways such as asking for feedback through polls, surveys and suggestion boxes, put together a focus group or an interview with prospective clients. You need to know what makes your business different. One of the most popular tactics to do this is by using the SWOT analysis which asks you to consider your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Use every bit of feedback you gather to work on your business and develop better methods of marketing your strengths and eliminating your weaknesses.
By developing your business for your customers so that it offers higher quality services, you eliminate the need to compete based on pricing, which is a falldown of many startups and can really harm your business’ capital.
If you don’t really know what you’re doing…
Hire a professional. Hiring a coach, or a guide does not mean that you lose control of your business, it simply means that you have someone to help you maintain control. If you’ve never run a business before, you can’t expect yourself to learn the in’s and out’s of everything overnight. That’s often what leads to careless and avoidable mistakes that can become quite expensive to fix. Professionals are not cheap, but they’ll save you a lot of money in the long run. You’ll also be able to learn a thing or two as time goes on. At the very least, when hiring a professional, you’ll know your business is in goods hands and that you’ve eliminated the risk of accidentally self-sabotaging your business.
If you’re getting poor marketing results…
Re-evaluate your game plan. Ultimately, effective marketing will achieve brand recognition for your business and instil trust in your prospective customers. If your marketing plan is failing you, you need to figure out why.
Are you investing enough money into your advertisements and campaigns? Are you targeting the right market? Do you understand how your products/ services relate to this market? Are you advertising in the right places, on the right platforms? Effective marketing begins with having robust answers to these questions and considering them when making executive decisions.
While most small businesses seldom have the funds to spend up big, marketing is arguably the best area for your to invest money if you hope to receive a strong return from your efforts.
But not all marketing tactics have to be expensive to be effective. The most successful campaigns involve spending money in the right places, and exploring other avenues. Consider buying some pay-per-click advertisements, start a blog, set-up an email campaign, network with experts within your field or sponsor industry related events. Think about your business’s SEO, and how easy it is to see your content. Is there more you can do to improve it such as optimizing your URL’s, page titles, hyperlinks and keywords? Consider how strong your social media presence is. Should you be posting more or interacting with prospective clients? Could you funnel more of your advertising through this avenue to achieve better results? Perhaps you could trial more daring tactics such as a guerilla marketing and viral videos.
If you’re running low on money…
You’ve got to get a plan in place and hire a professional. Chances are, your money is disappearing because you’re spending it without having planned for it, or you’ve forgotten to account for some expenses. This is perhaps the most common issue for small businesses; expenses pop-up all over the place and if you’re new to the game you would have never seen them coming. It can be impossible to effectively plan a budget if you aren’t fully aware of ALL of the costs involved. That’s why an experienced CTO or financial accountant can do wonders for your business. Again, while their help may be costly, it’s extremely justifiable when you think about how much they’re really saving for you.
Another tip is to take advantage of the plethora of FREE online software available to business owners of every size. This is a cost reduction of 100% so it’s definitely worth searching for something that you may be able to substitute in. Remember, free software doesn’t mean lesser quality, but it pays to shop around.
For other big-ticket items, it’s a great idea to get at least three quotes to make sure you’re getting a good price.
Knowing where your money is coming from and going to, and having accurate records of this is important not just for legal reasons, but for ensuring it’s going to the right places. Having the right people and using the right tools for the job can save your company a lot of money in the long run.