Are you wondering what can make your small business stronger? If yes, read along to see five tips that talk about how to grow your business and make it successful.
Building your own small business is not always done easily. With hard work, determination, perseverance, and tips from experts building a successful one can be achieved. Below are words of advice from experts around the web, highlighting 5 key tips for building and maintaining a successful small business. Below each tip you will find links to additional tips.
Tip 1: Use Free Social Media Resources as Market Research
Twitter is an excellent source, rich with information about your competitors and customers. Utilize Twitter to scope out other businesses similar to yours and see where they are succeeding and where their customers say they are failing.
More tips from Small Biz Trends:
Tip 2: Stand Out
Ask yourself, what makes you different than everyone else? What do you provide that others can’t? Answering these questions helps you identify what makes your business unique which is important in strengthening your small business. You can and apply this information to your company’s message and utilize it in your marketing.
More tips from Small Business Administration:
Tip 3: Keep Detailed Records
We’ve all heard the saying “history repeats itself,” but it isn’t often that business owners understand the importance of keeping a detailed history of their business records. Whether it be your earliest receipts of purchase for equipment or detailed records of your sales and your clients, maintaining a clear and accurate record is important for all businesses. This will allow you to make better forecasts of business flow, it will allow you to know where your business stands financially, and could help you identify and create strategies to grow your business.
More tips from Investopedia:
Tip 4: Utilizing your Business Credit
Many small business owners make the mistake of using up all of their personal capital to initiate their business or to keep it going. This shortens the longevity of a business as there is the potential of running out of cash, and puts your business at risk for closure. How can your business stay afloat? By utilizing business credit, which can be used for investments which will help your business grow. There are many sources online which educate small business owners on how to obtain loans, and what are the best types of investments for your business which will provide a greater return. Whether it be investing in employee training or new technologies, utilizing your business’ credit is the difference between a successful business and a failing business.
More tips from The Huffington Post
Tip 5: Make a Lasting Impression
One of the most important aspects of running a successful small business, which is often overlooked, is delivering exceptional service. More often than not, small business owners have multiple roles within their business. You are the accountant, the marketer, the salesperson, and fill in any other position which your business calls for. Having these multiple roles can stretch your courtesy thin; however it is important to always keep your customers satisfied. Make it your goal to always provide the best customer service possible, so that you can assure repeat business and free advertisements from satisfied customers.
More tips from Forbes
The Basics of Business Financing
Seems like a daunting topic, right? Well, there are plenty of ways for you to finance your small business. In the following article we will discuss grants, loans, and more.
Grants are available for small business that are non-commercial, meaning that they must be non-profit organizations or educational institutions. If this applies to your small business, check your local and state programs to see if they have grants available. If not, federal and state governments offer assistance in small business owners obtaining low-interest loans and venture capital financing from commercial lenders. Although they may seem unobtainable, it would be worth a few minutes of your time to research and see if your business is eligible.
First off, there are plenty of loans out there and one is destined to fit your needs. Whether you are working to start, expand, or continue your business, there is a loan for you. To start this process you should visit your local bank or lending institution that participates in SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) programs.
A microloan would be a great option for small businesses that are start-ups, newly established, or growing. The money for a microloan must be used for working capital, inventory or supplies, furniture or fixtures, machinery or equipment. The maximum repayment term for an SBA microloan is six years.
For businesses that are already established and looking to expand, you should consider looking into the 7(a) small business loans by SBA. To be eligible for a 7(a) loan your business must operate for profit, be small (as defined by SBA), have reasonable invested equity, use alternative financial resources before seeking financial assistance, be able to demonstrate a need for the loan, use the funds for a sound business purpose, not be a delinquent on pay existing debt obligations to the U.S. government. There are special circumstances which may apply to you in which case I would recommend that you research the 7(a) loans and find out more.
Disaster happens! Need a loan? SBA has you covered. These loans are available to business owners that are victims of disaster, or to businesses that are in a declared disaster area (probably not applicable to Tucson). They are also available to assist small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and nonprofit organizations to recover from economic losses which resulted from physical disaster or an agricultural production disaster. Disaster loans allow you to restore your property to its preexisting condition, under special circumstances the loan may be eligible to protect your building from future disaster. However, it cannot be used to upgrade or expand the business unless it is required by local building codes.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to get started, this is the perfect resource.
What’s the most common reason for a small business to close its doors or for a budding startup to fail before catching on?
Here’s a hint, it is not losing to rival competition, not even close. It turns out that most small businesses fail by simply running out of cash to pay for operations.
Note that running out of cash is different than being unprofitable in fact many of these cash-starved businesses that failed were profitable. But a business that is profitable on paper doesn't necessarily have enough money in-hand or in the bank to pay employees and utility bills when these payments are due.
Cash is the currency needed to run the day-to-day operations and without it, there’s no fuel to move your business forward. “Cash flow is king” as the saying goes.
Many small business owners, you included, may think they need a loan to help keep up with employee payroll and utility bills so the doors stay open. But if cash flow issues are the underlying issue, loans and other financing options are only band-aid solutions because they miss the root cause.
Think your business could clean up its cash flow management act? Well, if so, one or more of the following four facts of better cash flow management may help. Read on!
1. Adjust your payment terms:
How quickly do your customers pay you? For businesses that bill their clients after the product/service has been provided and offer a grace period of 30 to 90 days for payment, you might be able to bring in more cash sooner. Try offering discounts for payments that are made earlier that the deadline. Or try calling customers with outstanding payments more frequently to remind them to their payment is due soon.
2. Keep records to know where you stand:
Business is busy. There’s so much to do. But focusing on operations and neglecting basic accounting and record keeping will leave you blind to how your business burns cash. Do you know how quickly your cash on hand can deplete? Bank records aren’t enough, it is critical to have a spreadsheet to display historical data from business revenues and costs to determining a safe cash balance for the future.
3. Bring in more sales sooner:
This may seem obvious but if you’ve overlooking a sales generation strategy when cash is tight you’re missing a strategy that could save your business. The key here is to use sales sparking strategies that don’t cost any cash but maybe cost some profit. Wait… Isn’t that the same thing? Not quite, here are two sales generation strategies that don’t require upfront spending.
A: Basic sales promotions will spur more volume and bring in more cash as long as the discounts aren’t too deep. This will decrease your average profit margin but if cash is tight that’s a sacrifice that can save the business.
B: Bulk order discounting (or deeper discounts) can help push existing customers to buy a higher quantity than they usually do. It will decrease your average profit margin, so be careful but it won’t cost you cash today.
Now it’s important to mention sales generation strategies that cut into your cash (not just profit). These are sales generation strategies that cost money today like running a radio advertising campaign or paying for a billboard on the highway.
4. Taking a loan? know the pros and cons:
Seeking a loan is, of course, another option but remember, loans used to pay off expenses aren’t going to solve the cash flow problems. The up-front sum of money you receive from a lender comes with an obligation to make fixed payments for a number of months into the future. Plus you have to pay interest too. If you take out a loan, use it to grow your business and your cash generating potential that way you’ll have more money flowing through the door of your business in the future to help meet those obligatory loan payments.
These are just four basic strategies to improve your businesses chances of surviving a period when cash is tight. Not all will increase profits or your business balance sheet valuation, but they might help save you from having to take out a loan to pay off utility bills.
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