Setting up a business and turning it into a broad success takes a lot of time and dedication. Most people never even try, only dreaming about it, and those who actually attempt it fail more often than not. If you want to be one of the exceptions — to reach operational stability and keep growing your business — then you need to be keenly aware of the challenges ahead.
You also need to understand where your focus should go, because you can’t pay attention to every last element of your business, even in the early stages. There just isn’t enough time in the day. You need to stick to what really matters — and to that end, we’re going to run through 5 things you can’t forget about. Let’s get to it:
Establishing a consistent brand identity should be one of the very first things you do while launching your business, because if you get it right, that identity could stay with you for the entire lifespan of your company. Brands that don’t have clearly-defined identities aren’t memorable, which makes it incredibly hard for them to grow.
But it isn’t enough to outline that identity: you also need to ensure that it frames everything you do in the future, from your social media conversations to your content production. To do this, you must create brand guidelines detailing everything from the font (or fonts) you use to the tone of voice you strive for — and stick to them (a suite like Frontify can help with this).
If you’re going to invest in anything, let it be your employees, because a solo operation won’t usually get that far. There’s simply too much work for one person to handle everything. Additionally, the earlier you recruit, the laxer you can be with the requirements. This allows you to hire people who are talented but not experienced, and thus inexpensive — and if they develop into world-class professionals, they’ll owe you for the opportunity.
This is something that stable businesses with flat growth should really pay attention to. The right addition to the team could unlock a whole world of new potential, and there’s always the option of getting a business loan to cover their salary while they get embedded in the team and start using their skills to make the business money.
If you don’t know how much money you’re making, you’re in major trouble, yet plenty of small business owners pay fairly little attention to their finances outside of thinking about profitability — but profitability isn’t enough. If your cash flow dries up due to profits being delayed, you can still run aground. You need to stay liquid.
So how do you do that? Well, you get familiar with important financial terms, and you implement software solutions to automate what you can. For instance, you can ensure that your employees get paid accurately and promptly with Wave Payroll (it’s 100% free), and having those outgoings regularly scheduled will help you keep track of your cash flow.
Some business owners get so caught up in potential clients just over the horizon that they take their existing clients for granted. This is a major mistake. Not only are loyal long-time customers more financially rewarding on the whole, but they’re also invaluable for helping you improve your business — after all, having experienced your services and/or products for quite some time, they know where the deficiencies are.
Accordingly, you need to pay close attention to customer feedback, and even actively encourage it. If people seem reluctant, you can incentivize it somehow (offer discounts or rewards), but get as much feedback as you can — and action it. Keep improving your business, and it’ll grow significantly more quickly.
When you’re just starting out, you might take a distinctly ad-hoc approach to handling your business. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, and you need to be somewhat scrappy to make something from nothing. It isn’t sustainable, though, and it spells trouble down the line. Why? Because if you were sick and unable to work, the person taking over your duties would face the nearly-impossible task of replicating your methods with no clear guidance.
This is where standard operating procedures (SOPs) enter the picture. By documenting each of your operational tasks in an SOP, you can preserve it for all current and future employees. What’s more, the documentation of a process allows it to be developed and made better: something that’s vital for any company with grand ambitions.
If you forget about any one of these things while trying to grow your business, it’s very likely to hamper your progress, so ensure that your attention is going where it should.
Guest Post: About the Author
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