10 Practical Tips for Running a Small Business
Running a small business is a lot of work – even when your business is small. You tend to wear a lot of hats and spend a lot of time trying to stay ahead of the game. These ten tips will help you keep your business running smoothly without being completely overwhelming.
Keep your day job
The instinct to quit your day job as soon as you start a new business is strong–but if you can do both, hold onto your day job as long as you can. This gives you a steady cash flow for your living expenses and can support your new business.
Stick to your niche
Small businesses operate best in tight niche markets. When you’re small don’t try to be everything to everyone; find the spot where you can fill an unmet need and grow there.
Create a support network
Running a business is challenging, and if you run a business from home it can be all too easy to become isolated. Mitigate this by getting a little time away from your workspace. Talk to friends, meet people through your local business organisations, and connect with other business owners online. Some great Irish networking organisations are the likes of Plato, Irish International Business Network and Network Ireland. Your local Enterprise Ireland Office is a great starting point too.
Get support from your local bank
Large banks can be quite strict about where they will loan money, especially when they’re looking at a brand-new company but your local bank may be in a better place to help and support your growing business. KBC are relatively new to the business banking market and do things a little differently to traditional banks with their dedicated ‘Business Hubs’. For example, they have gotten rid of counters and exchanged them for comfy seats and a decent coffee, something we all appreciate! They also offer a Business Partner service tailored to different areas of business which can prove very useful in the early stages of setting up your company.
Be willing to delegate
It can be tempting to try and do it all, especially when you’re just building momentum for your business. But as you start to grow and gain assets, start to look at where you can delegate work and refocus on your core mission. That could be hiring marketing experts, contracting IT, or delegating some accounting tasks. Find people who complement your strengths instead of replicating them.
Keep your overheads low
Depending on your industry, if you don’t need a huge office in a brand-new building, don’t get one straight away. These days there are plenty of options for new small businesses such as co-working spaces and incubator units. You can always move to your own property when you become more established. Likewise, if you don’t need a thousand business cards, don’t print them up. It can be so tempting to buy all the things for your new business at once, but keeping your overhead low in the beginning will help you stay strong as you grow.
As your business grows, you may get side-tracked by other ideas or concepts that seem incredible. Don’t get distracted. Focus on your business to make it as strong as possible. Even if you plan on divesting someday, that day can be later.
Find inexpensive marketing options
You hear marketing campaign, and you might think of big ads on buses or Luas trams, banners over streets, or full-page spreads in print magazines. Those ideas are for bigger businesses. Small businesses will have the most success with strong content marketing, a powerful social media presence, and ideas like volunteering at local events to boost your brand. In fact, even bigger businesses are starting to use these strategies–because they’re so effective.
Manage your stress
Every new business owner is stressed out, and you have to manage that stress if you want to be successful. Find the right release for you. Maybe you go to the gym every day; maybe you spend an hour a night catching up on the most recent TV shows, or maybe you find time to take a hike with your family every Saturday. It doesn’t matter what you do, just that you get it done.
Be okay with starting small
You may feel frustrated that your business isn’t big, especially if you’re daydreaming about multiple locations, franchising, and eventually growing a unicorn business. But when you’re small, embrace being small. Small businesses can build connections with customers in ways that bigger companies just can’t. They can be nimble, take advantage of new markets, and experiment with processes and opportunities that would make big companies flounder. So enjoy the days when your company is small; if you’re following these tips and staying profitable, you might not be small for too long.