Opening and managing a new business is an exciting and fulfilling process for entrepreneurs. The dream of finally getting your business open has been achieved and you are now working to make your new business a success.
But keeping your business open and achieving growth is a challenge. Available statistics vary, but approximately half of new small businesses fail within the first five years.
It’s easy to become so busy dealing with day to day operations that you don’t recognize threats to your business that can end your dream before your business is on solid ground. Here are some tips that can improve your chances of success.
Take time for planning
Set aside time each week for evaluating and planning for your business. Get away from day-to-day operations so you can focus on planning for success. Analyze your business’s performance and compare it to your expectations. Develop action steps to correct problems and improve your business’s performance.
Know your customers
Understand who your existing and targeted customers are. How would you describe your ideal customer? Know your customers’ needs and motivation for making a purchase. Also identify and understand their alternatives to buying from you. This is your competition.
Your brand is basically how customers perceive your business. What comes to their minds when they hear or see the name of your business? Your brand can involve your logo, your product, your customer service, promotional methods, employees, publicity, etc.
If you do not develop and manage your brand, the market will create an image for you, and it may not be the image you want. You need to control the message your business puts out to the market.
Determine the best ways to get your message across to your target market and motivate potential customers to buy from you.
Hire and nurture the right employees for your business. Develop job descriptions for the various positions. Know what type of people you need to hire and what skills are necessary. Provide continuing training and communicate your company’s vision to your employees.
Be sure your employees understand the benefits of the products or services you sell and how to provide excellent customer service. Regularly evaluate your team and do not be afraid to make changes, including terminating employees for poor performance.
Some small business owners dislike or are even afraid of dealing with their numbers. But you must practice good record keeping and generate accurate and timely financial statements to successfully manage your business.
If you don’t understand record keeping for your small business, learn it. Develop a thorough understanding of what your balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement mean. Learn how to use this information to improve your business operation and increase your bottom line.
Be willing to spend money and time to utilize the assistance of a certified public accountant (CPA) and an attorney who have experience working with small businesses.
Take advantage of the free assistance available through organizations such as Small Business Development Centers (SBDC’s) and SCORE. There is also information and assistance available through local chambers of commerce and economic development organizations.
The early stages of a new small business are exciting and dangerous, but you can improve your chances of success with the right planning and execution. So take steps now to keep your new business alive and thriving.
An excellent way to get your new business on the path to success is to participate in The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center’s upcoming FastTrac® NewVenture™ Program for new business owners, which begins in Savannah this month.
The program provides the resources, tools and support to help you build a successful business. Partial scholarships are available. Contact the Savannah SBDC office at 912-651-3200 or visit our website at http://www.savannahsbdc.org/ for more information and to obtain an application for the program.
Connie Edwards is a business consultant with the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at 912-651-3200.