There's lots to do when you start a business and sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. Here are six simple tips to help you get moving in the right direction.
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You might be happy just ticking over, but the chances are that if you run a small business you’re looking for ways to grow. If you’re lucky, some growth will occur organically; word of mouth will spread your brand and your products or services will speak for themselves, but if you really want to be the best that you can, you’ll have to put in some effort.
When I began LatestFreeStuff.co.uk I knew roughly what I wanted, but had little idea of how to get there. Although learning on the job can have its advantages, a bit of planning never goes amiss.
Top Tips for Growing a Start-Up
● Prioritise Daily Tasks
Jobs lists are a really useful tool, but only if you use them wisely. I start each day with a new list of to do’s, assessing the urgency of each task.
This allows me to keep track of all demands and commitments without feeling stressed, and brings the added satisfaction of being able to cross off jobs that have been completed. Where I can, I like to leave a gap in my schedule, so I always have the flexibility to deal with any unexpected urgencies as they arise.
● Hire the Best
Whether you’re looking for long-term employees, or contractors for one-off jobs, hire the person who is best experienced and most knowledgeable, rather than the one who is most affordable.
If you think that you can do something, but it’s going to take you time, hire someone who is better than you and can do it more quickly and to a higher standard. It can be tempting to economise and work with what you have, but in the long run, this will usually prove to be a false economy. It’s an old adage, but if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, and for that you need the right people.
Getting the right people will make a big difference
● Be Adaptable
The key fundamental to becoming adaptable and allowing yourself to change is to listen. If you don’t listen, you will find it very difficult to get new ideas or to understand how others view your business. By listening to the feedback of others, ideas may be sparked and you will learn a new way of doing things.
Why is adaptability important? Because the market is constantly changing and if you’re going to stand a chance of keeping up, you need to learn how to change with it.
If you look at most of businesses which went bust during the 2008-2009 recession, you’ll see that they were slow to change – they had a business model that once worked really well for them, so they stuck to it, ignoring the tidal wave of technology that was – and still is – changing the face of business.
● Be Curious
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but cats aren’t well known for their business acumen. If you keep an open mind and are inquisitive about what is going on in the world around you, you’re more likely to see opportunities when they come your way.
Curiosity plays a big role in innovation, asking questions such as ‘how can I make this better?’, ‘Can I change anything to make things run more smoothly?’, ‘Is there another way to do this?’ An inquiring mind can take you a very long way.
Having a business plan is great, but it’s kind of useless if you don’t use it. Have a clear vision of what you want from your company, put it down on paper and reassess it frequently. Are you achieving your goals? Have you explored new opportunities?
Is this still the direction you want to be travelling in? Set achievable objectives regularly and involve other members of your team to make sure that you’re not seeing a blinkered view. If things are going well, then great, keep doing what you’re doing, but don’t be complacent enough to think that because things are good now they will continue to be. Formulate contingency plans for the ‘just in case.’
Get your plan down on paper and make sure the team get it
● Set Goals
Finally, just as a daily jobs list allows you to monitor your own progress, goals/targets/objectives/whatever you want to call them, allow you to clearly monitor the progress of your business.
Setting each team member KPIs and rewarding them when they are met is a great way to get staff involved and working towards the bigger picture, but you also need goals for the company as a whole. Organisation is the key to success, and it’s much easier to be organised when you know what you’re aiming for, and can take small steps in a long journey.
Growing a company is never easy and there are no real short cuts. However, my experience at LatestFreeStuff.co.uk has shown me that there are things that you can do to smooth the path ahead.