Did you know that nearly 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years? That doesn’t help to instill entrepreneurs with much confidence. And entering the business world with self-doubt isn’t exactly a promising start when you’ve already got an uphill battle ahead of you. Having the right mindset is a huge aspect of being successful. So what does it take to last more than a few years as a small business? What does it take to grow into a big business and enjoy success in the long-term? The ideas in this post should give you some answers.
Get your business finances in order.
Money management is crucial to the success of your small business. Many good companies have failed as the result of poor financial planning. If you want to be fiscally responsible then you have to focus on more than your sales. Turning over a profit is important, of course, but you need to use those profits wisely. For starters, put a stop to non-essential expenditures. That’ll boost your margins and give you more funding for worthwhile expenditures. And you don’t have to downsize or cut corners to save money. In fact, making your company more efficient can save you some money. Automating certain services could give your employees time to focus on more pressing tasks, making the payroll go further. Insulating windows and buying energy-efficient appliances could reduce your office utility bills without altering day-to-day operations. Whether your business is still being run from a home office or not, even small companies need to start thinking of ways to reduce unnecessary costs. That way, you won’t have picked up bad habits as your business starts to expand.
The secret to financial stability in a business isn’t total frugality, of course. You have to spend money to make money. Avoiding investments in order to greedily hoard your profits will end up backfiring because your business won’t be able to grow and it’ll be left in the dust. You need to take calculated risks every day if your company is going to go the distance. So many upcoming entrepreneurs fail on their first few ventures because they’re too afraid to take risks. The problem isn’t always a bad idea but a half-hearted execution. Start thinking of the best ways to invest your money. If you’ve reduced wasteful spending then put those saved expenses towards something else. Rather than hiring a new department of full-time workers, outsource certain services to increase your output. You’ll achieve the same outcome of expanding your business but at a much lower cost. And you’d still be hiring high-quality professional help. The point is that smarter investments could help your small company grow without cutting too deeply into its profit margins.
Portray a professional image.
Another important way to make sure that your small business lasts is to portray a professional image. Your company might be small and lacking the reputation of its bigger industry rivals, but that doesn’t mean you have to be unprofessional or simply less professional than the market giants. Consumers don’t care whether a company is big or small; they care about the service they receive. They want to deal with a friendly and reliable business that delivers a high-quality service. That’s all you have to offer to the target market. Make good impressions on people so they give you good reviews. Those good reviews can be plastered across your website’s home page and serve to display your sparkling reputation to the wider market of potential customers.
You might even want to consider paying a small amount of money to get an 800 number. This would provide your business with a virtual receptionist to answer and direct its incoming calls. Not only would a proper business number give your company some credibility but a welcome message and a professional voice on the phone would help too. Image really is everything in this competitive world. Your goal is to prove that your small company isn’t simply run by an amateur working on a laptop from their bedroom. If you can legitimize your business in the eyes of the market then you’ll be able to rival the big names in your respective industry.
Foster loyal relationships.
As we discussed in the previous point, building a good reputation for yourself as a professional business is a great way to boost the longevity of your company. Of course, in order to achieve such a reputation, you need happy customers. Growth depends on marketing and generating new leads, but make sure you don’t neglect the clients you’ve already acquired. Your existing customer base is the key to your long-term success. If you can foster loyal relationships with customers then you will keep them coming back for repeat purchases. Plus, happy customers that stick by you in the long-term are more likely to spread the word about your services. Give rewards and great deals to your loyal clients as a way of showing them that they’re valued. You have to go out of your way to care for your customers.
Learn about your marketplace.
Obviously, you probably have some technical knowledge or creative flair with regards to your industry. That’s what prompted you to start your small business. A restaurant owner will have a passion for food, a software entrepreneur will have a passion for tech, and so on. But those inventors and creatives may not necessarily have full knowledge of the marketplace. A skilled chef might create delicious meals each night but fail to understand their customers or match the standards of other chefs at competing restaurants. Learning about your marketplace is essential to the longevity of your company. You need to do sufficient research so that your business can give the market what it wants in order to remain relevant. Knowing consumer preferences is essential to your long-term viability as a company.
If you can fix problems with not only your own services but the services of rival companies in the industry at large, then you’ll fill a gap in the market. That’s how you’ll get people’s attention and build your client base. At the end of the day, consumers just want solutions to their problems. They’re not buying a product just because it’s innovative; they’re buying it because it’ll add something to their lives. If you can deliver the solutions desired by your target audience then your company will always have a place in the marketplace. Make sure you invite feedback from customers to learn as much as possible about what they want. Run polls and surveys to collect useful consumer data too. Information on existing and potential buyers is valuable to your business. Remember that the market is changing, so you need to continuously collect data in order to keep your research fresh and current.
Accentuate the ethical side of your brand.
It’s also wise to accentuate the ethical side of your brand if you want your new business to last in today’s climate. Consumer expectations are always changing, as has already been discussed in the previous point. But remaining relevant isn’t just about doing research. How are you going to put that research to good use? With regards to your brand, you have to portray a message that clicks with the target market in an authentic way. Gillette recently came under fire for sending out a good message in a way that some deemed disingenuous. That was because it conflicted with the brand they’d built over many years. Instead of reinventing your brand overnight, think about ethical changes that genuinely reflect the thoughts and feelings of you and your team. If you all want to do more for the planet then develop a business which operates sustainably. If a local charity is important to you and your community then donate to it. Create an ethical brand that’s also a believable brand.
Work on your leadership skills.
Finally, one of the most crucial factors to take into your own is your mindset. This links back to the point that was made in the introduction. You can’t build a small business to last unless you’re going to work hard every day to make it last. Leadership is such a vital part of success in a company. You need to lead your team in the right direction and incite the same feelings of passion in every employee that you feel for your brand. Make sure you keep learning. There’s always more you can do to improve. You might be a talented individual who can come up with imaginative and unique ideas to take the market by storm, but you also need a business brain if your small company is going to find a long-term position for itself every day. Apple doesn’t invent something as revolutionary as the iPhone every day; the brand has been successful in the long-term because it retains market relevance. It keeps adapting and evolving under enigmatic leadership. That’s what you have to do as the innovator and the leader of your business. Learn how to manage your team as well as a great idea. That’s how your business will last.