Don’t you just wish being successful was as easy as hanging a shingle and declaring yourself a small-business owner? Granted that moment when your website’s up with cards in your wallet is pretty great. But that’s just the warm up to the real game of running a small business.
So what does it take to really succeed long-term?
1. Sell, sell, sell!
A business’ primary reason for being is to make a profit. Whether you’re a sole trader, a trust, partnership or a proprietary limited company – you’re likely to have to sell a lot of products or services in order to pay yourself a wage higher than you might get working at McDonalds. Lack of sales leads to diminishing cash flows and that’s one of the biggest reasons that Australian small businesses close.
Make it your new primary focus to keep filling your sales and marketing pipeline by assigning time each day/week to work ‘on’ your business leads.
2. Find a mentor who’s “been there done that”
Running a business is hard work. Whilst it’s exciting, especially at the beginning, it can also be exhausting, scary and just flat-out lonely. And often, you don’t know what you don’t know. So seek out a mentor with five+ years running small businesses. You can discuss your plans, seek wise their counsel, take advice and probably, on occasion, use their shoulder to cry on. The best mentors don’t “tell” you what you should do, rather they ask questions and let you ‘discover’ your own way forward. Why must the mentor have 5+ years under their business belt? Because that’s the marker at which around 80 percent of small businesses have failed. Those that make five years tend to go the distance. Choose wisely.
3. Build a team (by outsourcing)
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, two-thirds of all Australian businesses are non-employing businesses, i.e. they have you, the business owner, and that’s it. And whilst that keeps things simple, it can also lead to way too much stuff on your to-do list, burning the candle at both ends to get it all done, working 24×7 and eventually burning out. Along with lack of cash flow, that’s one of the biggest reasons that only 50% of non-employing businesses survive (and that survival rate is currently falling). Have a look at your to-do list and figure out which tasks you can pass off to someone else.
4. Be prepared for the unexpected
Have you thought about what might go wrong in your business in the next 100 days? Your major supplier could close, you could get sick and be unable to deliver for customers or something else catastrophic could happen. Take a minute to think through the possibilities that might affect you. Consider how likely they are to happen and what kind of impact each would have on your business. Then sketch out a quick plan for the things that would hurt your business most. The best time to plan for disaster is when you’re not fighting the fire.
5. Stay healthy
Running a small business can be a high-stress environment. Knowing that everything rests on your shoulders can be exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally. So make sure that you’re scheduling time to refresh into your diary (yes, really) and that you’re getting enough sleep. Too much on to spare the time to look after yourself? See point three.
Roland Farrugia, Virtual Services Advisor, Serviced Offices International