Tuesday 20 September 2016

Running a small business

Many people dream of owning their own business. The idea of being your own boss and running your own business is appealing but it can be extremely hard work.

Whilst the thought of not not having to answer to a boss and creating your own dream business is idyllic, running your own business is a big responsibility and requires a lot of work and dedication.

As I've watched and helped my own family run the family farm business for years from before I was born and have worked for a number of small family run businesses I have seen firsthand how hard it can be to run a business.

From working for a number of small yet successful family run businesses I have noticed a few key things that they have done which has helped them be successful and long lasting.

Start small
Whilst it may be tempting to think big and want to have a busy successful empire straight away it is worthwhile to start small first so that you can build a strong, long lasting business. By starting small rather than big the business has a better chance of survival as you can make sure your business is running smooth and successful before you expand. 

Starting small helps you focus and ensure the key elements of your business including staff, business plan and day-to-day managing of the business works well. But when the time is right for you take advantage of opportunities to expand whether that is expanding your products or services, or expanding your business space.

Keep overheads low
Whilst it may sound obvious try to keep overheads low and not overspend when starting up your business. As it can be tempting to spend, spend, spend to bring your dream business alive it is important to remember to keep overheads low so that you are not starting your business with mountains of debt which not only is not good for the finances but also adds additional stress to running a business. For example when starting out you may not need a kitted out office to use for organising your businesses finances and accounts when a laptop used whenever and wherever needed will do.

Keep an eye on cashflow
Depending on the type of business you have cashflow and petty cash may be vital for the smooth running of your business on a day-to-day basis so it is important to keep an eye on what money you have going in and coming out. When spending money it is vital to track expenditure so that no unexpected payments are made which would cause you financial difficulty.

Likewise when receiving payments from clients don’t assume that payments will be made on time and don’t rely on those payments by spending money assuming payments will cover it as it may not be paid on time!

Be confident about your business and have a purpose
Understand your market and research competitors to see what they are doing right and wrong. Looking at competitors will help you focus your business and make it stand out from the rest so that you offer something different and a great service.

Being confident in your business and the service you provide will show to your customers that you know what you are doing and are professional and friendly.

Listen to your customers
Talk to your customers about what they like and dislike about your products or services, and listen to their suggestions. Customers can be great advertising and the recommendation of a loyal customer can provide extra business - word and mouth (good and bad) can have a huge affect on a business.

Make sure to be realistic about what works and doesn’t work - there is no point selling a product or service that you love if your customers don’t seem to agree and it doesn’t sell. Look at what works and sells and then focus more on that area of business.

Save money on services by switching suppliers
Shop around for the best deals and service from suppliers that your business relies on. As well as looking at overall price make sure to look at the service they provide and any extra services included in the price. Remember when comparing prices of suppliers to look at the price on a like-for-like basis so you can get the best price for the best service.

For example if your business uses gas look at different suppliers and consider switching to save money and get a better service. FloGas who are a mains gas supplier can save customers up to 45%, offer hassle free switch and a dedicated account manager, plus customers can easily manage their account online.

Get a good team
If your business requires you to have employees rather than being a business where you alone do all the work, then make sure to take your time and carefully consider staff when hiring so that you get a good team working for you. Working in a small business often means staff get to know each other very well so it is worthwhile employing someone who will be a good fit for your business and the rest of the team. A small business can be affected goodly and badly by the people working there.

It is important to try and employ the best candidates for your business and the role, who have the right skills, experience and personality for your business.

Take time off
As running a business takes a lot of hard work and getting a new business off the ground is a endless, 24/7 job you can easily end up tiring yourself out! Whilst it most probably feels like you have not time to take time off and that your to-do-list and responsibilities are never-ending it is important to take time off and recharge your batteries.

Taking time off to rest, relax and socialise will not only help keep you sane but also ensure you have the energy to make your business a success.

Have you started your own business? 

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