If you’ve taken the leap and you’ve entered into the small business space, firstly, congratulations, and secondly, your whole country owes you a debt of gratitude which can later manifest economically, in the form of the likes of tax breaks and such. You’re definitely doing a lot of people a huge favour, because your small business is what any healthy economy thrives on. So here’s some advice on how you can give yourself the best chance of making a success out of it, even though I must stress that it’ll be nothing close to being easy.
Define the core of your business
By no means does this mean you cannot deviate from the key structure of what your business will be all about, but it’s important to be able to say that you are going to specialise in a specific field, market, etc. It’s a simple matter of applying that old question people like to ask about what three things you would save if your house was on fire. This time around as it applies to your business however, you’ll need to ask yourself what is the one thing you would confidently say your business specialises in if there was a big-money funder looking to pump some money into the business.
The platform for suitable expansion goes beyond this content here, so you’ll perhaps entertain that expansion practically out in the field and perhaps through your marketing material as well, but for now in order to explicitly determine what you’re all about with your business, complete this sentence in no more than one line (or two lines if you really have to):
The name of my business is ____ and we specialise in ____.
Engaging in an open, on-going learning process
It really doesn’t matter which line of business you’re in. These days if your business is not online then it’s invisible, but merely being online with something like an informational website is just not enough anymore. Sure, you might be targeting your local market in a very specialised manner, like if you perhaps run a corner bakery which services the locals in your neighbourhood, but you’ll need to show a little more ambition than that because that constitutes thinking for the here and now. Things could change very quickly and when the good times stop rolling then you won’t have any room to move by way of reinventing yourself or evolving your business to match the rolling changes of the market.
So, you need to establish yourself as an authority in the market you’re active in, in a way that doesn’t have you coming across as arrogant. You’re not trying to show everyone that you know everything about what your business is all about. Rather, you want to build trust amongst existing and prospective clients by making the pursuit of your ever-expanding expertise in the chosen field an ongoing, open process.
For example, if you’re involved in the supply of building material, you will gain a lot of trust among your existing buyers if for instance you spent some time doing some practical research and you came back with the discovery of a newer, better product or a better way of using a specific product you supply.
As a small business owner, your investment in the acquisition of expert knowledge in this way is important because in the darkest of times when the sales dry up, you can use all the content you have as a base from which to generate additional revenue streams.
Scalable operational structure
Anything that you put into the operation of your business should be scalable and should be immune to the possibility of becoming obsolete as a result of the business taking off and you having to deal with more customers, higher sales volumes, etc. For example, if you’re going to be using a payroll software solution, instead of going with a super-expensive custom built one, rather take up a “starter” package with an accounting software firm. This way if you need to handle larger tasks in that area as per the growth and expansion of the business, all it would take is upgrading to the next grade of the same tool.
Equally as important is taking stock and determining the natural size of your business, because not all businesses are destined to go public for example. If you employ 9 people and you’re making a healthy profit for example, investing the surplus in expansions that don’t require the hiring of additional staff, so be it – let it be. Don’t spread yourself too thinly.