Many lessons of running a small business are learned over time as small business owners gain more experience. In the beginning, they have to go through trials and errors to figure out what works and what doesn’t. We want to help you learn some of these lessons early on so that your small business can be as successful as possible. Here are some tips for small business owners to help you run a successful small business.
Set Your Small Business Up As an LLC
Your small business needs to be an official business entity separate from your personal finances. This small practice can protect you financially and legally. Even if you are the only employee and your small business is completely self-funded, it is always a good idea for your business to be a separate taxable entity. Your personal assets will be protected if your small business gets into any legal trouble; you will not be able to be personally sued for business actions. While it is unlikely that your small business will run into trouble like this, it is not impossible, and you do not want to be unprepared if it does happen.
Keep Your Personal and Business Finances Separate
If you start your business before your official business paperwork is processed, make sure you do not accept any payment to your personal account or pay for anything business-related using your personal credit card. You can open a separate personal account that you designate for business transactions only, but the best option is to open a bank account in your small business’s name before you start handling business finances. Because your small business is a separate taxable entity, it needs to have separate finances. Keeping your personal finances and business finances separate can save you a lot of trouble with the IRS.
Be Specific with Your Business Goals
Break your big business goals into smaller ones. It is good practice to have 10-year goals, 3-year goals, 1-year goals, and quarterly goals for your small business. The smaller goals will help you stay on track to accomplish your bigger goals. Revenue goals should be made quarterly so that the numbers are easier to manage and attain. Another good practice is to make sure your goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Setting these goals will help you stay on track in your day-to-day small business operations.
Delegate Responsibilities Whenever You Can
As a small business owner, it can be easy to want to do it all yourself. However, running a small business this way will not lead to success. There is no way to do everything yourself; you are going to need some help. Hire employees that you can delegate responsibilities to. Your employees will be able to focus on doing their tasks well, so chances are they will be done better than if you are trying to do them while also trying to do everything else at the same time. The quality of work will be higher and more can be accomplished when you have other employees helping you out. Focus on doing what you do best, and let others do the rest. This will allow your small business to make a lot more money over time.
Take the Time to Train Your New Employees Well
New employees need time to learn the intricate workings of your small business. It may seem like a burden to take the time to explain things to them and to show them how things are done, but the time you invest in new employees will be well worth it. You can’t expect new employees to understand everything right away, so be patient with them and take the time to train them well. When your employees feel more prepared for the job, they will be more proud of their work and will put in more effort to be successful. Properly training your new employees will reduce turnover and prevent the need for harsh firings or going behind your employees to fix their mistakes. Successfully running a small business is dependent upon good employee training practices. Then, once your employees are trained, leave them be to do their jobs. Don’t constantly look over their shoulders to check their work; trust that you trained them well to do their jobs and they will come to you if they need help.
Invest in Small Business Marketing
In order for a small business to be successful, it must have customers, and the way to get customers is through marketing. You have to get the word out about your small business in the places where your target customer will see it. The only way to get customers’ attention is by forcing yourself in front of them and showing them something valuable. You need to entice them into realizing that they need your product or service. This requires continual investment in marketing. Do some research to determine what kind of marketing is best for your business model and target market. Should you use Google and Facebook ads? Rent a booth at a trade show? Advertise on the radio? There are so many great marketing methods out there; you just have to figure out which ones are best for your small business. If you need help coming up with effective marketing, you can always hire a marketing company to handle your small business’s marketing for you.
Find a Go-To Accountant
As a small business owner, it is always a good idea to have an accountant who is not part of your staff that you can go to as needed. Find a CPA who you can hire to handle your taxes when tax season arrives and who can provide you with financial advice when you need it. It can also be beneficial to have them go over your small business’s cash flow to make sure you’re in a good place financially. This will keep you from unexpectedly falling into financial trouble.
Leave 20% of Your Day Free
If you are going to be at the office for ten hours, only schedule eight hours of work. As a small business owner, there are always things that come up at the last minute that you have to deal with. A scheduled half hour long phone conversation may unexpectedly take an hour. The task that you thought would take an hour actually takes two. Most days, something will come up that will require more of your time than you originally planned. By leaving twenty percent of your day open, you allow for those unexpected time consumers. If you are lucky enough to have nothing like that come up one day, then you have time to do other tasks. You can catch up on emails or do some research about what’s going on in your industry, or you could take the rest of that day off for your mental health. Allowing extra time for unplanned things will make your day go much more smoothly, and you will feel much more in control of your small business.
Ignore Your Emails for the First 4 Hours of Your Day
Countless studies and articles state that it is unproductive to check your inbox first thing when you get to the office. Checking emails at the beginning of the day busies your mind with less important tasks first. As the day goes on, your mind experiences decision fatigue, meaning your brain power decreases and becomes less equipped for thinking critically and handling important decisions later in the day. Because of this, it is much better practice to handle important business matters first and less important tasks like checking email later. You don’t want to burn through your brain power on tasks that don’t matter as much to running your small business.
Resources for Small Business Owners at the Chamber of Commerce
Running a small business can be overwhelming in the beginning. Joining your local chamber of commerce can make the job easier. Chambers of commerce provide a number of resources for helping small businesses get started and gain customers. The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce is a great way for you to receive some small business help and to get the word out about your business. From networking events to seminars to our membership directory, we offer many great resources to help small business owners be successful. Find out more about becoming a member of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on our website.