What you know today about your business may not be what you will know tomorrow. So, learning from experienced business owners will help you to learn from their experiences. After years of running a small business, owners inevitably gather many lessons about how to grow and run a business more effectively. Here are some tips that will save you taking years of learning and help you today.
- Be specific with your goals. Most entrepreneurs and small business owners have goals, but usually they are generic and not very specific. If you want to increase sales, set a number that you want to reach. If you want to increase employee productivity, tell them how many units you expect them to sell in a specific amount of time. The key to setting and achieving specific goals is to break your goals into multiple and small achievable portions.
- Build a support network. Being a business owner can be an isolating experience at times. This is especially true if you a ‘solopreneur.’ Your small business network can include a mentor/business coach, a local BIA (Business Improvement Area), an industry group or a trade association. There are also special network groups for women in business that can be quite helpful. If you cannot find a networking group that works for your, you could create your own for people with similar interests and needs. But building your network does not have to end there. You should consider networking on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. There are some great Google+communities for getting help and advice from other entrepreneurs and small business owners.
- Learn to delegate. One of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs and small business owners make, is trying to do everything themselves. You need to find the things you are best at, then hire someone for the tasks that you are least qualified to do. You do not want to take time away from your core responsibilities. Why would you be answering the phones when you could be utilizing your time making sales calls? This is one reason to have your office at a serviced office provider that has a live professional receptionist to answer your business calls the way you instruct them to.
- Watch and budget your overhead costs. Overhead costs can eat into the profits of your small business, so keeping them under control is key to your success. But just reducing your overhead costs will not help you to better control your cash flow. Having more fixed or set overhead costs will allow you to know what you are spending without getting any surprises. This is also why you should consider running your business from an office business centre that offers everything included for one monthly rental cost that does not fluctuate.
- Do not be too quick to diversify; stick with the niche that works best. As you build your business, you will learn what product, service or market is your niche. Grow that niche before you consider diversifying. You cannot be everything to every customer and you should not try. If your customer knows you for sprockets, don’t try try to make and sell them widgets. The same can happen when you try to enter a new marketplace – because spending time working that new market can take you away from servicing your niche core customers.
- When just starting up, do not be in a rush to quit your day job. While it may seem tempting to go all-in on your new business venture, you might need the guaranteed income while you get your business into the black. Keeping your existing job can provide you with security and a way to still keep making money if your business fails.
- Watch out for the distractions that can take your focus off your core business. Once you have your first business venture going, the temptation to look at starting a new second venture might come across your mind. Successful entrepreneurs do not just do the minimum for their first company. They constantly work to grow it, evolve it, and prepare it for the future.