According to startups.co.uk, around 20% of new businesses fail in their first year. Small businesses have had to weather a number of storms in the past, including the pandemic, exiting the EU and managing increased prices, but with a bit of planning, resilience and a focus on the tasks that matter most – including using outsourced office admin and support – you can build a bullet-proof business.
Whether you’re planning a new business venture, or looking at how you can put your existing business in the strongest possible position, there are some clear steps you can take. This guide is based on many years’ experience working with small businesses – and of course, running one!
Step 1 – Define your purpose
Why does your business exist? What, precisely, is it selling? Who are your ideal customers? What impact do you want to make. Businesses that have a clear, stated purpose find it easier to plan. They can focus on the areas that support their purpose, and not get distracted.
Step 2 – Understand your resources
Most businesses start with just one person – maybe two if you are in a partnership. That means there’s limited resource available to manage all the tasks you have to do. Smart entrepreneurs outsource from the beginning – they may use an online bookkeeping service to manage day-to-day finances, for example, or choose affordable virtual admin support to manage social media, or manage diary planning. Understanding that you can’t do everything is a major step in your success.
Step 3 – Create a ‘what if’ budget
Entrepreneurs are naturally optimistic people. So when it comes to creating a budget, it’s easy to overestimate the demand for your product or service, and the price that people may be willing to pay. Put together a realistic budget – this may be required anyway for a business loan or other set-up funding. But also create a ‘what if’ budget. This helps you to see how you would manage if sales are slower than expected, or it takes longer to recruit staff than you thought, or supplier prices increase unexpectedly.
Step 4 – Do your research
The more you know about the market for your product or service before you start, the better prepared you will be. You research should cover a number of areas, including supplier costs, competitors, available market, selling channels, promotion, marketing and pricing. All of this requires time and some upfront spending, but it allows you to plan with confidence.
Step 5 – Be prepared for change
What if your first plan doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped? What if market circumstances change? Can you adapt? Successful businesses are agile, prepared to take calculated risks and able to change when the time is right. Embrace the potential for change and decide how you can make it work to your advantage.
Step 6 – Maintain a good work-life balance
We all think of successful entrepreneurs as being people who work 24/7. And many do. But Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos didn’t do their own books or manage their own social media. They spent their time on strategy, planning, sales and promotion. This is a great lesson for any small business owner – you don’t have to do everything. For example, a general admin virtual assistant service can handle many of your everyday tasks, leaving you time to concentrate on the bigger picture – and maybe even have a free evening or two each week.
Step 7 – Be customer focused
Without customers, your business is pointless. Focus on building a community around your business. Invest in good customer service tools and build a culture that values the people who buy from you. Encourage feedback and reviews, change your approach if customers need you to, and listen to what they have to say. This can inform new product or service development, point the way to areas you can diversify into and result in repeat business and referrals.
Starting a new business? Or working out how to make your current business more productive? From specific tasks like bookkeeping services to small business outsourced office admin support, why not call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above to see how we can help?