Top 20 tips for running your own business
Decide what you’re going to sell
A lot goes into starting a business, but the first place to start is to figure out what you plan to sell. Your success as a business depends on your ability to sell products or services to your customers.
Next, you’ll write a business plan. A business plan will help you gain clarity as you’re getting started, and it will help tremendously if you decide to apply for small business financing in the future.
According to the SBA, most business plans fall under the category of a traditional business or a lean startup. You’ll go into great detail in a traditional business plan. These plans can be several dozen pages long, and are required by most lenders and investors.
In comparison, a lean startup business plan focuses on a high-level overview of the business. You’ll summarize the most important aspects of your business, and it will only be about a page long. This will be much faster to create, but if you seek out funding, investors may ask for more information.
Decide on your business’s legal structure
Choosing the correct legal structure is an important part of running your business. If you want to get started quickly and with as little hassle as possible, a sole proprietorship may be right for you.
With this type of business model, you don’t have a partner or executive board to answer to, so you’re in complete control of all the decisions. Keep in mind, though, there is no legal separation between you and the business; you’re responsible for any debts and lawsuits that the business incurs.
In contrast, a limited liability company (LLC) provides more flexibility and creates a legal separation between you and the business; however, there is more paperwork to fill out, and you’ll have to file your business with the state.
According to digital marketing experts, a business without a strong online presence is missing a great opportunity, therefore, you need to set a strong online presence since everything is going digital and people are always on the internet searching for goods and services they need. Invest in digital marketing strategies that will get your business noticed by a lot of people and the best SEO company can lead you down the right path, since SEO is a way to have a strong online presence.
Join online networking groups and forums and start giving useful advice on areas directly relevant to your business. This raises your profile in a positive way. But don’t spend too much time on it – allocate a certain amount of time each week and stick to that.
Get business cards printed, get out to networking events in your area and make sure you take your business cards wherever you go – you can meet interesting and potentially useful people anywhere.
Have something beneficial that you can offer people when you meet them – make reference to it on your business card or on the website that your business card should refer new contacts to.
Don’t go out and try to ‘sell’ your business or your service. Networking is usually a two-way street, where you create support by being useful to people who then go elsewhere and talk about you in a positive light. Don’t thrust your business card at other people – ask them for theirs and don’t give them yours until it’s asked for. Once you’ve met someone send them an email within 48 hours providing something useful, or the place where they can find that useful thing (e.g. on your website). They now have your contact details and a positive association with you.
Set up passive income streams, where possible
- Create a community of people by providing a genuinely useful, free, newsletter that’s sent out regularly
- Provide useful content on your site that gives your potential clients the first couple of steps in addressing a problem that they might have
- Include audio and video on your site and use that content on YouTube and similar sites to promote your site
- Provide an easy response mechanism (e.g. blog comments or an email address) so you can find out what your community thinks and wants
- Ensure your business is secure to prevent unforeseen losses with software such as antivirus or VPN.
- Optimize your website for search engines (aka SEO). This is especially important for small local businesses.
If you need to advertise (and it’s better to promote yourself for free to start with) make sure your advertising is targeted, specific and within an advertising budget. Before exploring online marketing packages, think about the following:
Take no notice of calls from advertising salespeople from publications you don’t know, even if they’re offering serious discounts and start telling you about all your competitors who are advertising with them.
#17. Hire Passionate Employees
Remember the mission statement and values we suggested you review frequently? Review them before every interview. Most jobs you can train people to do, but it’s much harder to teach people to have a positive attitude, passion for what you do, and share values they don’t already hold.
So look for people who already embody your company culture. Just be easy on them in the interview. Some people are highly passionate but clam up in job interviews. If you can do a “working interview” and allow them to do the job with you for a few hours or a day, do it!
You are far more likely to see a potential employee’s personality than if you just do a 30-minute interview. Most people have some anxiety in interviews. Based on my work in photography, it takes about 45 minutes for someone to shed their nervousness. Give them a chance to show their true self.