Running your own small business seems so easy until you are actually doing it. Small business success only comes with a lot of hard work and a willingness to learn from others. Those that claim they know the best way to do everything in their small business often fail due to their stubbornness. At SLC Bookkeeping we get to work with hundreds of small businesses. We have learned a lot about how to run a successful small business through the diversified group of business owners that we work with. Here are some small business success tips that I have learned through my experience of working with so many different business and owner types.
Outsource To Professionals
One thing I have noticed that many successful small businesses share is their willingness to outsource to professionals if the task is out of their expertise. Successful business owners realize that one of their most valuable assets is their own time. Small businesses often take the do it yourself view and try to do too many tasks on their own. This cost cutting approach quite often has a negative affect on the business. The owner becomes spread thin across too many business tasks instead of focusing on big picture items that they are good at. Additionally, by trying to handle tasks that are out of their expertise they often do them incorrectly and end up costing themselves more money. Take bookkeeping as an example. Many business owners try to do the books themselves in the beginning to save money only to use an outsourced bookkeeping service down the road. The mistakes they typically make cause a mess that is more costly to clean up than just doing the books correctly from the beginning.
Takeaway: Outsource business tasks that are out of your expertise and focus on business tasks that you enjoy and that you are great at.
Passion Is Key To Success
I think many small business owners start their business with one thing in mind; money. My thoughts have always been that passion is the key to success and that the money will follow. I also feel that many business owners don't think about what they really want from their business and what their actual end goal is. Carole Mahoney wrote a great article titled 'What a Mid-Life Crisis and Business Growth Have in Common." She touches on my point in the section: Are you starting with the end in mind? Too many business owners don't think about the end goals and the real reasons they want to start their own business. They only think about money, which is a really bad approach.
Takeaway: If you are passionate about your small business it won't seem like work. Find another motivator besides money to start your business. Always be thinking about your end goal, be open to modifying your end goal and constantly align your business with that goal.
The Numbers Are Important
Small business owners don't care about their bookkeeping and financials until they are shown some useful information that can come from their bookkeeping. Many business owners look at bookkeeping as a nuisance rather than a tool that they can use to run their business. Here are a few ways you can use your bookkeeping to help run your business:
Identify issues and opportunities - You should be analyzing your small business financial reporting on a regular basis to look for the good and the bad. Most small business owners focus on cutting expenses rather than increasing sales. Keep in mind that you need to look for opportunities to grow, not just expenses to cut.
Set goals - You should be creating a forecast and budget at least once per year from your bookkeeping historical data. Make sure you revisit your goals often and compare your actual performance to your budgets.
Hold everyone accountable - Use your bookkeeping to hold everyone accountable in your business including yourself. If you are not hitting your sales or expense goals find out why. Show your staff that you are paying attention and that you care about goals not being hit.
Takeaway: There is a lot of valuable information in your business finances you just need to be shown where and how to use it.
Like so many other things in life it is so easy to quit when trying to run a small business. Guess what? If running a small business were easy everyone would do it. Quitting is simple, succeeding is not. Launching and running a successful small business takes passion, hard work and persistence. When you start a business you will be given so many chances along the way to give up. Maybe your old boss will offer you a job with better pay. Maybe the stress of the long hours will get to you and your health will 'force' you to stop. Maybe you have too many current personal and financial commitments to make the leap. There are a lot of hurdles to get over if you want to run a successful business. I think many people have a false expectation that it will be easy to break out on their own, but it's not. Persistence pays off; you need to have realistic expectations and stick with it if you want your small business to be a success. Additionally remember that success is a broad term, it means different things to different people, define what success means to you.
Takeaway: Starting and running your own small business is very hard work. Make sure you have the right expectations going in.
I live for the small business entrepreneur, they are why I love what I do. When you start your own business don't have an 'I know everything' attitude. Understand what you are great at and what your weaknesses are. Always be open to advice from other successful small businesses.
What advice do you have for those starting their own business?