Regardless of how excited you are or how fool-proof your idea is, starting your own business is a risky venture. There are no guaranteed paychecks, established client bases, or safety nets. In truth, nearly 50 percent of small businesses fail by their fifth year.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent such disastrous outcomes. You don’t have to become one of the negative statistics attached to small business ownership.
By following the top business advice from experts who have been in your shoes and grown to be wildly successful, you can avoid some of the most common business blunders that lead to devastating setbacks.
For a detailed look at some of the best strategies and top business advice, keep reading.
1. Do Your Research
First, you need to make sure you’re as knowledgable as possible about your prospective industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re going into fashion, construction, or software programming, you must be highly educated in your field.
Start doing market research. Look at your competitors and how successful they are. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How saturated is the industry in your area?
- Is there room for your business to bloom and prosper?
- What about the industry itself, is it growing or in decline?
- How much funding do you need to get started and be operational?
- How much can you expect to grow in the first five years?
Research and take notes on market trends and patterns. As a startup business, is your city the best location for you or would you be better off starting your business elsewhere?
When considering the top business advice, this should be priority number one. Know what you’re getting into.
2. Create a Thorough and Realistic Business Plan
Once you’ve studied the industry thoroughly, its time to formulate a business plan. This step should not be taken lightly, as it will be a primary means of getting financed. Banks, investors, partners, and other funding entities will use the quality of your business plan to determine whether or not they trust you with their money.
You need to have a clear mission statement. What do you intend to do? What is the purpose of your business?
You also need to include how you intend for your business to operate. This includes management, employees, general operations, marketing, expenses, and so on.
Finally, you have to present your projected growth. This is what may or may not compel investors to take a chance on you. What is your business’s maximum potential and how will you make it a reality?
3. Get Properly Financed
One of the most important aspects of seeking top business advice is learning how to fund your business. Failing to get financed can leave your business dead in the water long before you have a chance to get started. However, failing to get funding from a single entity isn’t the end, you have several more options.
Most people first attempt to obtain a business loan from a bank. This is a good option as long as you have good credit and can be approved for the loan amount. It offers low, fixed interest rates and can help you build a business relationship with professional bankers.
However, if you can’t get approved by a bank (for the full amount or any funding at all), you can opt to appeal to investors. There are private investors – people who may know you or believe in your business idea. Using investors often means trading equity in the business, but can also work similarly to a bank loan.
You can also look to crowdfunding to help finance your business. In this case, you would use a public platform, such as social media, to pitch your idea to the masses in hopes of gaining large sums of money by a collection of small contributions. There are also websites that specialize in crowdfunding campaigning.
Alternatively, if your business is good for society (healthcare, charity, public safety, etc.), you may have government grants available to your business. These grants can range from small, supplemental financing amounts to large sums of money that will finance your entire startup.
Finally, you can consider getting financed more internally. Sometimes referred to as bootstrapping, you can empty your savings and come up with the startup money yourself. You could also keep things internal by bringing on business partners who can help fund your project, though you’ll no longer be the sole owner.
4. Start Small and Grow with Your Clientelle
Another piece of top business advice warns you to start small with your business. Make sure you’re not operating outside of your means.
It’s better to start slow and grow your business as your revenue grows rather than starting big with substantial overhead costs and unsubstantial revenue. Consider this: business fail because they have too much money going out and not enough coming in. You can avoid falling victim to this consequence by starting conservatively.
5. Enlist a Board of Advisors
Another common mistake small business owners make is trying to do everything on their own. While deciding whether or not you want business partners is completely up to you, you should, at the very least, have a board of advisors.
You can handpick your board members from your friends, family members, previous co-workers/managers, etc. Typically, members aren’t paid. However, what they offer is incredibly valuable.
Run your business from the viewpoint of several trusted advisors rather than just your own. Members can offer advice from different perspectives and come with incredibly successful ideas.
6. Create a List of Attainable Long and Short-Term Goals
Running a successful business means knowing exactly what you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it. Top business advice would tell you that visualization is key. In other words, dream on paper and write all of your goals down.
Created a list of attainable, short-term goals with actionable steps you can take to achieve them. Think about your goals as milestones leading to the top of a mountain. The peak of your mountain is your long-term goal, which can be anywhere from a year to 5 years.
Try not to think too far ahead. It’s easy to lose focus if your goals are too far away.
7. Be a Problem Solver
As a business owner, you need to be a problem solver on two levels. On one hand, you need critical thinking skills to help you overcome obstacles. You need to be able to think outside of the box, solve problems creatively, and see past what’s on the surface.
On the other hand, you need to be a problem solver for your clients. A successful business solves problems for people. You need to fill a need for society.
This could be anything providing a moving service to pest removal. For example, moving companies have relatively low overhead costs and cities full of people who don’t want to move their own possessions from one home to another.
8. Build a Team
Next, top business advice promotes the importance of teamwork. As we stated above, you don’t have to do this alone. Depending on your budget, consider hiring a few employees and or specialist that can help propel your business forward.
This could be a sales manager, private contractors, or IT support. Hartford Tech Support, for example, offers onsite and remote assistance for everything from virus cleanup, computer repairs, and software troubleshooting.
9. Affiliate with Local Businesses
Keep in mind that team members don’t always have to be in-house. One of the best moves a small business owner can make is teaming up with other local businesses to form mutually beneficial relationships.
Build affiliate relationships with businesses that complement yours. For example, a local gym and a health and nutrition store make great affiliations, as do realtors and general contractors.
Avoid teaming up with businesses that are too similar to yours to avoid unnecessary competition.
10. Build a Prominent Online Presence
One of the most important pieces of top business advice is to ensure you have a strong online presence. The overwhelming majority of consumers shop online. If you’re invisible on the internet, you’re losing sales.
Start with a well-designed, user-friendly website. Then create at least one social media business profile and start building a following. Finally, make sure you’re capitalizing on digital marketing techniques.
Here are some top digital marketing tactics:
- SEO marketing
- Content marketing
- Social media paid and organic marketing
- Email marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Pay per click advertising
- Affiliate marketing
The world of digital marketing in a whole separate book of knowledge. Learn what you can about it and don’t hesitate to hire a digital marketing team to help you get started. Digital marketing is the key to running a successful business in today’s age.
11. Stay Consistent
Finally, you must stay consistent in your efforts. Running a successful business is like getting in shape. You can’t work out and eat right one week and not the next. Nor in business can you push hard one week and back off the next.
Additionally, experienced business owners will tell you that there’s a delayed reaction when it comes to seeing the fruits of your labor. If you push really hard and make grand efforts in marketing, you’ll start to see the results in the coming months.
Too many business owners back off as soon as things start going their way. Then, a few months down the road, they can’t figure out why things are going downhill.
Stay consistent in everything you do.
Looking for More Top Business Advice?
Learning the top business advice alone won’t make your business successful. You’ve got to put in the effort and grow as a business owner.
Never stop learning. Learn from your mistakes, research consumer patterns, and stay updated with trends in the industry. And if you’re looking for more relevant and beneficial information, be sure to check out the rest of our articles before you go.