Your business isn’t just a business. Chances are, you’ve invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into growing your baby and keeping it healthy and strong.
Despite all your best efforts, though, owning a small business is still a risk. Indeed, it’s estimated that more than half of all businesses fail within their first five years, and less than 30% make it a full decade.
No matter how long the odds may seem, however, there’s no cause for despair. Whether you’re preparing to launch your small business or you’re already up and running, there are things you can do today to ensure your company’s success for many tomorrows to come.
Create a Business Plan
You might think that having a business plan is an unnecessary waste of time and effort, especially if your company has already launched. The truth, though, is that a business plan is essential for a number of reasons.
Having a clear, comprehensive business plan is not only going to help you define your purpose and mission, but it’s also going to enable you to identify your company’s unique value proposition. Writing a business plan, even if you’re already in business, will help you understand what position you occupy in the market.
Once you understand and can articulate what value your products and services bring to your target audience, you’re going to be better able to make sound business decisions that align with that mission. You’ll also more readily recognize ideas that you need to jettison, or at least put on the back burner, in order to pursue more relevant and urgent business goals.
In addition, a well-crafted business plan can be your greatest weapon in the battle to secure funding. When you present lenders and investors with a well-researched and thoughtful plan, you’re more likely to persuade them to take a risk on you and your dream.
Practice Good Financial Planning and Savvy Spending
When you’re trying to grow a small business, it can be tempting to load it up with all the bells and whistles you think you’re going to need to recruit top talent, attract employees, and distinguish your company from its nearest rivals.
The reality, however, is that excessive spending is perhaps the greatest threat to your company’s long-term survival. Rather than going overboard on the perks, such as an expanded product portfolio or a super-deluxe employee benefits package, apportion your financial resources judiciously. Consider, above all, which expenditures will best serve your company.
This process will likely require you to consider how you want to structure your company. Deciding between a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), or a corporate structure can have significant financial implications, particularly in regard to tax obligations and insurance requirements. Failure to get insurance, or the proper type of insurace, is one of the more common mistakes new business owners make.
The key here is to determine which structure is best for your particular organization and to ensure that you have ample insurance coverage for your particular business type. This will help protect you, your employees, your partners, and your customers, no matter what the future might bring
It doesn’t matter how great your product is if your target customers don’t know about you or can’t find you. So, in addition to having a solid business plan, the appropriate business structure, and a savvy spending plan, you also need to prioritize marketing.
The good news is that you don’t have to blow your entire business budget to have a phenomenal marketing strategy. Rather, what you need, above all, is to stay focused and get creative. Understand who your target audience is, what they want and care about, and how to reach them, and then design your marketing platforms accordingly.
For example, if you’re targeting Generation Z, then you would probably do well to concentrate on online video marketing for platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Likewise, if you’re going to market for this demographic, then transparency and social responsibility are going to be themes you ignore at your peril.
On the other hand, if you are looking to market to an older generation, then you may still leverage the immense accessibility and significant affordability of the digital space. However, the platforms you use to reach your audience, as well as the content you create from them, is likely to differ significantly.
For example, if you are targeting the “silver generation,” those aged 50 and above, you might turn to platforms such as Facebook and you may center your content on themes of health, retirement lifestyle, high standards of living, and the overall superior quality of the product or service you are promoting.
You’ve poured an enormous amount of time, money, and effort into making your small business a success. Above all, you’ve poured your heart into it. However, it takes more than determination and hope to ensure your company survives and thrives. It also requires a bit of strategy and a lot of commitment. This includes developing a solid business plan, practicing good financial management, and optimizing your marketing strategy.