14 Steps to Help You in Starting or Growing Your Small Business:
1. Choose the Right Form of Business
Even though operating as a sole proprietorship (the typical company form for a one-person operation) may be simpler, it may not be the greatest option for safeguarding your small business. One drawback of the sole proprietorship is that your funds, property, and other assets might be fair game if a client chooses to sue you or a vendor demands payment that your small business cannot afford.
2. Have a Business Plan
A business plan is essential for survival in today's competitive business world. A documented business plan is just as important for a small business as a large corporation. A good business plan can help you, your funding and capital sources, your advisors, and your staff to improve net profit by focusing on current and potential problems.
3. Find an Accountant
Hiring a professional accountant is worthwhile even if you plan to do the bookkeeping yourself.
Think about it like this, do you have the time to stay current on changes to tax law? Chances are you don't, but accountants do since; frankly, that is their job! In addition to helping you save money on taxes, they may provide helpful guidance on how to set up your small business, how best to fund your growth, and how much to pay yourself.
4. Hire a Lawyer
Even though you may not need an attorney often, when you do, you need one quickly. You will want to find one that is familiar with small business issues. The best place to start is by asking other entrepreneurs, business colleagues, and friends for recommendations. Before you pick one, take the time to interview each person and compare them. Discuss payment choices; most attorneys have affordable solutions for even the smallest business.
5. Invest in Business Insurance
The majority of small businesses should have general liability insurance. In addition, professional liability insurance, more commonly referred to as E&O (errors and omissions) coverage, may be required if you provide clients with advice or professional services such as business consulting.
If your business operates in or is based in North Carolina, you will need to have workers' compensation insurance if you employ three or more individuals, regardless of whether they are full or part-time. There are exceptions to this, so speak with your insurance agent to be sure.
You may want to also consider key man insurance, which covers your life and the lives of other essential personnel, business interruption insurance (which safeguards your revenue in the event that your company has to shut down due to a catastrophe), and cyber insurance.
6. Protect Your Employees
Disasters can happen at any moment, so it's crucial to have a strategy in place for what you'll do to protect your small business in an emergency. You need to make sure you have a strategy and plan in place. You also need to assign roles for how to evacuate clients and staff safely. Also, you will need to consider what would happen if a catastrophe prevents you and your staff from going to your offices and how you will continue operating even if you can't get there.
7. Protect Your Business Data
When it comes to your business data, you can never have enough backups. You should consider backing up your data with a cloud storage solution and any onsite backups. At Cube Creative Design, we are primarily an Apple/Mac shop. Each of our computers is set up with TimeMachines, cloud storage offsite, and disaster recovery storage.
8. Treat Your Clients Right, and They'll Keep Coming Back
Increased revenues result from excellent customer service. Your whole team should be aware that the client is responsible for meeting payroll and funding future salary increases.
9. Be Smart About New Clients
Before taking on a new business-to-business (B2B) client, always run a credit check, as this can help protect you from delinquent bills, taking someone to court, or being forced to send it off to collections.
Frankly, I wish we still lived in a day and time when a handshake would be all you need. Unfortunately, we don't. Therefore never do business without a contract. A formal contract may be the only way to guarantee that you get compensated if anything goes wrong.
10. Ask Your Staff
Small businesses that solicit employee input often get significant benefits. Your employees are in an excellent position to recommend changes since they have direct contact with your consumers and offerings.
11. Learn From Other People in Small Businesses
Create a network of contacts in related industries in your community, state, and nation. Talk to them frequently about thoughts and challenges with the business. Learn how other companies are handling issues with inventories, receivables, staff, computers, fixed assets, etc.
12. Be Innovative and Unconventional
Just because something isn't being done in your area or industry doesn't mean you shouldn't try it, especially if it will help you provide a better service for your clients or remove friction from the process.
13. Make Costs Everyone's Concern
Encourage your staff to care about the bottom line. Cost control should be just as important to them as increasing revenue. Consider developing an incentive program based on a percentage of expenses saved to promote participation.
14. Invest in Internet Marketing
With the rise of the internet as a marketing tool, internet marketing or digital marketing is now the leading trend in the industry.
Internet marketing is a vital tool for marketing small businesses because:
- It levels the playing field
- It is cost-effective
- It delivers conversion
- It helps open doors for more revenue-generating channels
- It promotes quality interaction with target markets
- It generates organic traffic
- It allows you to measure results
Hopefully, these fourteen tips will have helped you as you think about starting your business or even expanding your small business. If you need help promoting or marketing your business on the internet, contact me. I will be glad to help you get started!