There isn’t a magical formula that will guarantee success when you’re starting a small business. Mostly, it takes a lot of hard work and good decision making, and maybe a little bit of luck. However, there are some things that you can do in the early days to weight the scales in your favor. Take a look at seven startup secrets that may be the key to helping your small business soar.
Raise More Money Than You Think You Need
Unexpected expenses are more the rule than the exception. No matter how generously you budget, the odds are good that something will come up that costs more than you planned for. The best way to ensure that you have a surplus on hand to cover the surprises is to go into the venture with more money than you think you need. After you open for business, any time that you spend scrambling to come up with capital to cover an unexpected expense is time that you’re not spending on building up your business.
Stack Your Team With People Who Complement Your Weak Spots
You may be great at many things, but you have your weaknesses just like everyone else. To succeed in business, you need to be brutally honest with yourself about those weaknesses, then find a way to compensate for them. Great at design, but short on salesmanship skills? Hire a stellar salesperson, stat. Masterful at marketing, but a sucker for a sob story? Make sure you have someone on your team that will chase down late-paying accounts and make sure those invoices get paid. Even if you can’t afford to hire just yet, you should still be using experts on an as-needed basis. For example, if the tax code confuses you, don’t even try to do your business taxes yourself – take it to an accountant and let them handle it.
Know Your Market
No matter how great your idea is, it will never get off the ground if you don’t know how to reach your market. Identify and study your customer base. Find out what their needs are, what kind of media that they are exposed to, who your competitors are and what your potential customers like and don’t like about your competition. This is the information you need to reach the customers that will make your business a success.
Learn To Save Money Without Cutting Corners
Saving money without sacrificing quality is always difficult, but there are ways to do it. For example, one great idea is to use a virtual office in London instead of renting office space right away. This will give you access to mail forwarding, telephone answering services, faxing service, and meeting places without the expense of renting an office and hiring an office staff right away.
Cover Your Bases Legally
From a layperson’s point of view, legalities can seem like just so much boring paperwork. But it really matters. A business lawyer can help you choose the right legal structure, such as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation. These legal structures affect everything from how much you pay in taxes to how liable you are if someone sues you. You should also inquire about things like trademarks and employment contracts.
Make Service Your Centerpiece
If you can do any one thing to make your business succeed, this is it: provide excellent customer service, every single time. The customer service experience is vital to growing your business, and customers will forgive a lot of mistakes from a fledgling business if they know that you’re responsive and will go out of your way to make it right.
Be Willing To Sacrifice
Think of a new business like a new baby – it will cost you money, make you lose sleep, take a lot of hard work to protect and grow, and play havoc with your personal life. That’s something that you need to be prepared for, mentally and emotionally as well as physically and financially. However, if you’re willing to make those sacrifices, the payoff can be amazing.
Starting up a small business can be tough, but when done correctly you can take away some of the stress and allow yourself to have a better chance at achieving success. Study your market, be cautious of your budget and take your time with each and every decision.