Business owners are always looking for increasingly more creative ways to become better at what they do, engage more customers, and edge out the competition. To be truly successful, they must iron out all the small details, but they also can’t neglect the big picture.
If you’re thinking about starting your own business, you’re no doubt wondering about the basics, such as where to locate your offices, how many employees you’ll need to hire, and the price at which you’re going to sell your product. Amidst all these questions, though, you’ll be worrying about time, money, and all the other commitments you’ve made to your business.
Starting out with a new business is a tough job, and you need all the help you can get along the way! So how do you ensure you’re putting your best foot forward when venturing into a new market? What you need is some helpful guidance that’ll enable you to streamline your workflows and improve your chances of success. Below, we’ll outline five tips and tools for small business owners that can help them achieve just that.
There’s something to be said for the fact that entrepreneurs whose previous attempts at running a business have failed are actually more likely to succeed than a first-timer who’s never run a business before! What this tells us about the nature of entrepreneurship is that the experience of failing is often more valuable than we give it credit for. Of course, this is not a green light for making reckless decisions, but it is a great endorsement of not getting too bogged up in the logistics or mechanics of your business operations.
Initially, it can be very difficult to find the time and resources to perfect your product. Rather than wasting years trying to create the best version of your idea, you should really just test out the market with a working concept and improve as you go along. A ‘minimum viable product’ (as it’s called in the business) is actually a great idea. You not only get the benefit of being of getting your product out in the market earlier, but this technique also gives you some valuable customer insight which will help nudge you along the right path. After all, who’s better at suggesting improvements to your product than the very people who use it!
One of the most important things a business can do for itself is to invest in productivity enhancing processes that can help it optimize, refine, and improve its offerings! Think of this as a toolbox that helps you become more efficient in the daily running of your business. This doesn’t even have to be physical gadgets or gizmos, but can refer to any process or practice that makes your life easier.
As an example, let’s look at invoicing software QuickBooks. It not only makes getting payments easier, but also allows you to track invoices, set customized reminders, and more! This kind of convenience is extremely valuable when you’re first starting out. You get paid quicker, with less effort, and are able to save money that would otherwise be used to hire someone who could manage your invoices manually. Therefore, a great tip for success when starting out with a business is to identify tasks that take time and effort to accomplish, and develop a toolbox that automates them for you!
Sometimes, entrepreneurs can become so blinded by the love of their idea that they end up peddling the wrong product for far too long. In fact, CB Insights found that 42% of businesses failed because there was ‘no market need’ for their product. This is a worrying statistic, and shows that business owners can sometimes put all their eggs in one entrepreneurial basket without assessing the market they’re wishing to enter!
Source: CB Insights
This is where our next business tip comes in. It is crucial that you forecast all major eventualities before you begin any major investments into your business. The act of predicting potential outcomes, and having pre-established plans to deal with them, can be extremely helpful for your startup. For example, a tool such as Salesforce can allow you to generate forecasts for complicated sales workflows, and make real time adjustments so you know who your top performers are at any point in time. This allows you to be more flexible in the face of unpredictability, and be more responsive to challenges that are pretty much inevitable when first starting out.
Every business has gaps in its knowledge. Sometimes, these gaps are about obvious questions that really need to be answered early on in the game, such as ‘Who is my customer?’, and ‘What sets my product apart from the competition?’. At other times, however, these can be gaps about issues you might think of as peripheral. These are the gaps that, if neglected, can often mean the difference between success and failure.
For example, take the fact that 46% of small business don’t have their own websites. If your business is one of them, it must be easy to see that you’re lagging far behind! This must also have other implications; for example the fact that you do little or no digital marketing, or that you don’t engage with customers on social media. As a result of all this, poor performance in the market might be easily rectified if you address these shortcomings.
Of course, fixing these problems can sometimes be easy. What’s really hard is having the capacity to identify these shortcomings in the first place. Tools that help you carry out analysis with little experience of handling complex data sets can be exceptionally helpful in this scenario. As an example, Google Analytics is a great product for digital marketers and small business owners, as it lets them measure the ROI of their advertisements, gauge website traffic, and get a quick overview of their online presence. In this way, you can continuously assess your business and know your strengths and weaknesses like the back of your hand!
KPIs are all important if you want to run your business as efficiently as possible. The shocking truth, however, is that 18% of all SMBs do not measure or log any KPIs at all! This can be disastrous for the health of your business. You don’t really know whether the steps you are taking to improve your business are actually working or not. This could mean that you make all the wrong kinds of investments, for example, or give up on a particularly profitable avenue because you don’t know how much of a difference it’s making.
KPIs can be extremely important when you’re planning a big change in your business – such as the overhaul of maintenance practices, for example, or the decision to purchase an expensive new set of machines. However, the truth is that KPIs can also be very helpful in the day to day running of your organization. For example, an asset tracking software like EZOfficeInventory can give you insights into your business assets, and enable you to run reports to see future usage trends or operational bottlenecks – all valuable information when you’re strapped for cash!
Therefore, an equipment tracking software such as this can help you see what’s changed, what’s worked, and what needs your immediate attention. This lets you keep things under check and meet change with a lot more confidence.
Setting Your Business Up For Success
A lot of new business owners look for starter plans to make their life easier. These can get really complicated, and are sometimes quite unhelpful. So, how’s this for a simple starter plan: If you’re looking into setting up your own business, start by listing down everything you’ll need to accomplish in order to be successful.
This could include the ability to forecast future trends, identify current gaps in your knowledge, measure crucial metrics, and develop a toolbox in order to help you be more prepared in the face of unpredictability. You can then find applications and practices that automate a large chunk of these processes for you, giving you time to spend on more valuable avenues!