When it comes to starting a business, it’s best to start with the fundamentals. You must first come up with a good idea. Then figure out if you can generate a customer base. You must consider your financial position. Conduct a SWOT analysis. Then once you have some proof of concept you’ll need to develop a brand, get a good team, and business a banking relationship. But that’s not all – here are 10 building blocks to small business success.
- Get In Where You Fit In
Millennials may recognize this phrase from the popular Too Short album, which bears the same title. In business it’s important to “get in where you fit in”, which basically means, know your market and understand how you can best fit your product or service into that market.
When starting your business, you will be faced with many decisions regarding how you enter the marketplace, decisions ranging from marketing budgets, to employees and staffing, to facilities and distribution, or simply on what kind business to start. When making these decisions, always ask yourself the question…am I getting in where I fit in? Or am I trying to go too big too fast?
- Know Your Strengths (and your weaknesses)
When starting your business, one of the most important things to do is be honest and realistic about what you can and can’t do. Over the last 15 years I have owned and operated a wide variety of small businesses. When I was 17, starting my first business I thought I could do it all. I was the salesman, the office manager, the laborer, the bookkeeper, the customer service agent and the CEO.
Needless to say, that business didn’t last long. I realized my strengths were in sales and sales management and steering the direction of the company. I needed help from others in every other area of my business. Evaluate your strengths and be honest with yourself. Figure out what you do best and focus on that.
- Consider a partner
Once you have evaluated your strengths and weaknesses, you may want to consider bringing on a partner that has the strengths that complement your weaknesses. I have run most of my companies without a partner, mainly because I like to have the final word when it comes to my business. However, I never achieved true success until I decided to partner up with someone that demonstrated the skills I was lacking.
When running your small business, you should always be analyzing your activities to see if there is an opportunity to outsource some of your workload. Whether that is an answering service for phone calls, a call center for marketing or customer service, or perhaps even outsourcing all of your business allowing you to focus 100 % of your efforts on sales and generating new business.
You should look at all the angles when deciding whether or not to outsource. How much time are you spending doing it? How much are you currently paying employees to do the task? Will it hurt your company image if you outsource? Will you lose the quality control you had when doing the task in house? These are all important questions to consider.
- Keep the books tight
It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of our business and if you are running the business yourself, doing the books is probably not high on your list of fun activities. Keeping up on your taxes, and keeping your books organized and up to date is one of the most important parts of growing a successful small business. If you don’t know where you are financially, you can’t make good decisions about investing in the growth of your company. You should schedule out time to reconcile your books every month, even if that means going over the numbers with a bookkeeper or CPA.
- Keep moving
If you work hard your business may become successful and you might make enough money to be comfortable or even wealthy. This should not mean that your business stops moving or stops evolving. In the world of electronic payments, we are forced to keep moving because of the speed at which technology advances, but all business owners should be looking to the horizon and keeping their business moving with the market and evolving as the world evolves.
- Invest In Smart People
I can’t stress this enough, there is always someone smarter than you out there, and you should look for every opportunity to bring him or her on board. The smarter they are the more you should offer them in terms of long term-vested opportunities. You want to create a collaborative environment where you can benefit from the great ideas your employees come up with.
- Reward yourself
As a small business owner we can sometimes forget why we work so hard. It’s so we can reap the rewards like time and money. Running a small business is stressful and can take a toll on your personal life. Take a vacation, take your family out to dinner frequently, go shopping, do something to reward yourself. This will help re-invigorate you and can often spark great ideas about how to grow your business even bigger.
- Be Open to Change
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, is not a mantra I follow. I think we should always be tinkering and fixing our business. Just because something works, doesn’t mean it can’t work better. Be open to change, be a catalyst for change, listen to criticism and encourage people to offer it. Without input from other people, businesses will never grow.
- Do It All Over Again
This can mean two things: Wake up the next day and do it all over again…or the meaning I prefer…do it all over again, with another business! I love small businesses and I’m constantly looking for new opportunities to start up and make successful.
Do you have a suggestion for any other business building blocks?
Author Bio: Blair Thomas is an electronic payment expert, who loves all things finance and the outdoors. He is also the co-founder of eMerchantBroker.com, the #1 high risk processing company in the country.