5 Business Tips to Help Your Small Business Succeed

Like anything else in life, business ownership comes with ups and downs. But an entrepreneurial spirit can help you see ways around obstacles and reduce downsides of owning your own business. Entrepreneurs see opportunity where others see risk — often because they take steps to manage risk or because they define risk in different ways. If you’re considering entrepreneurship, you can follow in the footsteps of other successful business owners and work to overcome obstacles in your path.

Photo by Malinki via Flickr

Prepare Financially

Put together a marketing plan, budget, emergency fund and contingency fund before you start consulting. Consider moonlighting while you work at your day job or at least take on a second job while you’re ramping up your business. You can also plan for multiple streams of income.

Define Success

Start with your end goals in mind. Define measurable SMART goals. People start businesses for a range of reasons — financial, independence, lifestyle and other reasons. If you know why you’re running a business, it will be easier to tell if you’re succeeding.

Although many businesses close up after a few years, keep in mind that many people simply transition to new opportunities. For example, some people choose to run a business during college, while their kids are small, while caring for an ill family member, as they move into retirement or until they realize they prefer working for someone else.

Others would rather have ups and downs in their business income than be at the whim of an employer who could fire them at will or issue a mass layoff in a bad economy.

Set Boundaries and Build a Business, Not a Job

Many self-employed people work during vacations, evenings and weekends — but so do many employees. Some self-employed people set strict boundaries around work time, so that they can still have a personal life. Doing so right from the start is healthy — no matter if you’re self employed or working for someone else. Most people know people with regular jobs who work too many hours, too! And, if you aim to build a business — something that can run without you working in the business full-time — you may find that you gain more control.

Surround Yourself with Good People

Running a business can be hard work. So build strong relationships with other professionals, such as accountants, lawyers, consultants, freelancers and even mentors. Tap into resources such as entrepreneur programs, books, online communities, mentorship programs, courses and trade associations.

Rather than keeping up with every topic, seek out expert advice. Focus on your core competencies and bring in others to help you. Document everything and create operating plans, so that you can capture the knowledge. Work on establishing procedures, processes and systems, so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Celebrate Milestones and Create Traditions

Set goals — and celebrate them. Take time to cherish your successes, whether it’s that you landed your first customer or finally published a brochure on your services. One small IT firm used to ring a gong every time they got a new customer. Another toasted new sales with champagne. Still another saw the CEO ring a bell to draw everyone together so that they could let out three cheers.

There’s a reason humans celebrate holidays with rituals and traditions – it’s fun and builds community. Even if you’re working on your own, you can still celebrate successes with clients, partners, vendors, friends or family.

People start and run businesses for a variety of reasons. Figuring out your own goals and putting a plan in place can go a long way in building your success as an entrepreneur. Taking the time to work out solutions to possible problems can help you build a more successful enterprise. In the end, any path you choose involves risk, whether you stay in a nine to five job for 40 years or chuck it all for entrepreneurship. Not every risk is a risk for everyone.

About the Author

By , on Jul 7, 2010
Andréa Coutu
Andréa Coutu has grown Trustmode Marketing from a freelance business to a strategic management consulting firm with multiple contractors. She blogs about her 15 years of entrepreneurship and consulting experience at Consultant Journal and has written an ebook on fees and pay for independent consultants.

Leave Your Comment (5 Comments)

  1. Davida says:

    I like what you said here, “Entrepreneurs see opportunity, where others see risk”, so true. I guess in any venture there will be advantages and disadvantages, but Entrepreneurs are optimist, they tend to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and not the darkness of the tunnel.

    @Taylor I guess an Entrepreneur has to make a choice of either freedom, or security. A lot of people get this freedom of being their own boss, but suddenly realize they need to deal with money coming in at unusual times.

    I decided that freedom to decide what I wanted to do with my life and time, was more important to me than having a salary check coming in at the end of each month.

  2. Taylor says:

    It’s really good to be self employed. No more slave driver bosses and best of all I’m now a master of my own time. But, it is also important to practice good time management and no more procrastination. It’s also good to have your own mini office at home when you have kids. I lock my room during “office hours” so that they won’t invade and destroy my concentration or my work desk. I agree that planning breaks is essential. It’s so hard to resist an idea when it suddenly pops up. This is the reason why in the past I skip my lunch and drink coffee instead. Later I got hyper acidity which caused me medical bills. Now when it happens I simply jot down my ideas and focus on my meal first. A 30 minute lunch break isn’t that bad, and you may find down the track that you will save money on medical bills.

  3. Well , I believe for any business to succeed it is important that you have the right employees working for you. Preparing yourself financially for critical situations in your business can also be useful.

  4. Jenna says:

    Also, plan mini breaks. I find when I’m doing freelance work, I work straight through lunch and don’t take time to eat or stretch out, while working from home. This tends to make me a grumpy person. Make sure you get up walk around, our plan coffee meetings with friends or happy hour so you get some work life balance.

  5. kt says:

    i think the best thing about running your own business is the ability to set your own working schedule. Like for instance i am really not a morning person. I would rather work from mid morning up to past midnight. This would not go down well with employers to i choose self employment over gainful employment. The dowmside of this is that i have absolutely no social life but you cannot have everything can you. I like the points here but i think for a christian who wants to start his own business the first and most important thing is to ask God for guidance; this will save you a world of problems. Ask me I KNOW. But hands down self employment is much better than being employed

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