If you’re launching a small business, you might be tempted to forego in-depth planning and jump right in. Entrepreneurs already running a business may not have established systems to keep up with growth. No matter where you are in your business journey, there are steps you can take to get more organized and efficient. Here are eight tips to help you get on track and ready to succeed.
Draft a Killer Business Plan
You might think that a business plan is something you only need when looking for potential investors. However, every successful small business requires a road map to move forward and ultimately succeed. While every business plan is unique, most follow the same outline. Elements include an executive summary, marketing and sales plans and financial projections. The SmartBiz Small Business Blog has an article to help you craft the perfect plan. How to Write a Business Plan for Your Small Business (Without Going to Business School) Even if you didn’t prepare a business plan before you launched, you should always put one in place to reference as you expand.
Identify Your Customers Base
Who do you want to see logging onto your website or walking in the door? Every business owner should have a strong grasp of their target audience. Are you selling to men or women, parents, millennials or retired professionals? Include an outline of your audience in your business plan and how you intend to reach them.
Keep Track of Your Finances
Have you heard of the term “shoebox accounting”? It’s forgoing processes and systems and tossing everything together to sort out later. Of course, this can spell disaster for a small business. Staying organized can be doable if you follow these simple steps suggested by Quickbooks:
- Open a business bank account to keep all your business income and expenses separate from your personal ones.
- Choose an accounting method. Most small businesses use the cash accounting method, which records income when it’s received and expenses when you make the payment.
- Consider using cloud-based accounting software. This technology offers cheap, fast, portable and safe operations for all kinds of commercial set-ups. Learn why using the cloud is the best bet for small businesses here: Why Small Businesses Should Invest in Cloud Technology
- When tracking your business expenses, keep the receipts for any business-related purchases you make. To make the process simple, consider using the same credit or debit card to make business-related purchases.
- Understand which expenses are tax deductible. You might consult with your accountant for a complete list of tax deductible business expenses.
Forecasting growth during the startup stage has been described as “more an art than a science”. You might think growth forecasting is too time consuming but it’s a vital step when starting a small business. Entrepreneur has a detailed article outlining how to forecast revenue and growth here.
Manage Your Credit Scores
Both personal and business credit scores are important when running a business. Good credit scores help you qualify for trade credit, loans, favorable insurance rates and more. The SmartBiz Small Business Resource Center has numerous articles about managing both personal and business credit scores. Start with these three articles to understand why good scores are important when running a small business and how you can improve yours.
- Your Personal Credit Score: What It Is, Why It’s Important
- Do You Know Your SBSS FICO Business Credit Score?
- How Small Business Owners Can Improve Their Credit Scores
Secure a Loan or Other Investment
The word “debt” is usually seen as a negative. However, securing low-cost debt for a small business helps improve your bottom line in numerous ways. Increasing inventory, paying off high interest debt or purchasing equipment are just a few reasons outside funds are good for business. Review this blog post to learn why low-cost long-term debt is good for business. The Benefits of Long-Term Debt for Your Small Business.
If you’ve been in business two or more years and have good credit, an SBA loan is your best bet to fuel growth. SBA loans have low rates, long terms and very low monthly payments. SmartBiz Loans, the #1 SBA loan marketplace, has streamlined the SBA loan process. Learn more about our process and products here.
Manage Inventory Efficiently
Effective inventory management is key to understand what you have, where it is, and when products are going in and out. Having a handle on your inventory can help lower costs, speed up fulfillment and even prevent fraud. This FitSmallBusiness article shows you how to get your inventory organized and on track in 8 easy steps: Small Business Inventory Management – The Ultimate Guide
Hire Qualified Employees
Do you need employees to help run your small business? There's a big difference between a skilled worker who's suited to their job and an employee who falls short. Once you’ve determined your staffing needs, it’s time to find the right fit for each position. Our post has information to help guide your search: 5 Hiring Tips for Every Small Business. If you’re not sure whether to hire an in-house employee or an outside professional, check out this post: Hiring Help: Do You Need an Employee or Independent Contractor? You’ll learn the pros and cons of each and what tasks can be successfully managed by an independent contractor. Once you have the right people in place, learning to delegate is key. Make sure your employees are properly trained and let them take on tasks so you can concentrate on the big picture.