As you've thought about starting a business, you've probably come across all the stats that say what percentage will fail in their first five years. It's scary when you think about it. You're putting everything into a venture that might not be around in a few years.
There's no fool-proof business plan, but there are plenty of tips from successful business owners. Here are five to get you started:
- Create systems to make your work easier. No matter what business you have, your brain power is valuable. There are many mundane tasks that are necessary but are mentally draining. Make it a rule to never answer you cell. Check voice messages twice a day. Same with email. This will work in many industries. Sort your mail once a week, right before doing weekly accounting. Take meetings only on Wednesday afternoons. Do marketing every morning from 10 to 11.
- Automate as much as you can. What's even better than creating systems? Automation! Set up your invoicing system to send out bill reminders and late notices at preset times. Set up auto draft on things like utilities, business insurance and subscriptions. With financial automation, do be careful that you have enough money in your accounts at all times.
- Learn from your competition. One of the best ways to get tips on improving your service or product is to listen to what people are saying. Does your rival mechanic always leave fingerprints and grease on the cars? Make it a point to clean up after yourself. Better yet, have your trainee give each car a wash and polish before the owner comes back. However, always remember that what works for the competition, may not work for you.
- Go the extra mile. This can be as simple as always replacing your customers' dropped meals with a smile. Even though it may have been their carelessness that caused them to spill four large sodas on the floor. Do what other franchises may not. Did a daycare client refer a new family? Give the client a free week to thank them for their loyalty and kindness in helping you grow your business. Send your clients' pets home with cute bows or collars after each grooming visit.
- Retain some of your earnings. This is different than an emergency fund. Retained earnings allow you to take advantage of buying deeply discounted products. Or buying a competitor's inventory. You can also jump on new products without the blink of an eye. Minimum order of 100 pieces? No problem. This will help you get ahead without using money that's already budgeted.
There's no guarantee of success, but learning from others and doing what others won't do is a good start. Follow these tips and you'll be well on your way to running a successful business.