10 Survival Tips for Small Business Owners

The reality for many small business owners is that they were forced into starting something of their own. Perhaps they were retrenched, fired or unable to find a job.

What this means is that often small business owners really haven’t even had time to obtain some training in basic small business practices such as finance, human resources management and marketing.

The other real danger is that the small business owner works so hard in the business, trying to push for more sales, handling negotiations with suppliers, making month-end payroll and trying to get big customers to pay on time that they don’t catch major problems in their business before they become a threat to their businesses survival.

Newspaper reports recently indicated that about 4,000 businesses went insolvent in 2013. The causes for these business failures were not reported on but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure the usual fatal mistakes: bad business decisions, running out of cash, a market that has dried up or even an employee when employees who have embezzled the company.

Here are 10 practical survival tips for small business owners:

1. Stay inside your “circle of competence”: the investor Warren Buffett avoids making investments outside his “circle of competence”. Starting something new, venturing into a new market requires competence that the existing small business owner may not have. Stick to the knitting in bad times.

2. Keep focused on cash flow: When the cash dries up, the game is over. In hard economic times its important to monitor cash flow more frequently, if not daily. Set up a simple system and watch your cash like a hawk. Big customers want to take ever forever to pay and suppliers want their money now. This makes it vital to manage cash carefully.

3. Don’t sign sureties: when cash runs out, the temptation is to go to the bank to increase your overdraft. Don’t sign sureties that for a small loan require confiscation of all your business and personal assets. Enough said.

4. Temptation: Act ethically at all times: even what may seem harmless will become a major issue if it involves and an unethical business practice. Ensure you have a clear red line where you will not cross over. In this economy with people desperate, unethical, explotative small business are on the rise. Detect them early and avoid them at all costs. Some are not paying their taxes, operating illegally and not complying with health regulations and should be shut down by the relevant authorities.

5. Take time to work on your business: Working in your business gives you very little time to work on your business. Make time each week to review where your business is going and how you can improve your operations and increase your market.

6. Insurance cover: Have insurance cover in place for fire, theft and personal liability: It sounds like a no-brainer but how many small business owners have adequate insurance? Don’t be wiped out because of this.

7. Business advice: The biggest risk that a business often faces is poor business advice. Airlines and utilities are virtually bankrupt because of bad business decisions and have to be bailed out. Double check business advice and rely on your own common sense and savvy.

8. Avoid the dangerous number 1: there is a danger in having one big customer or one key supplier. Check your business for this kind of risk and make backup plans.

9. Keep a watchful eye out for unusual employee behaviour: One of your employees could be handling too many critical tasks, employees could be taking out stock without you knowing it and finance or bookkeeping employees could be involved in an invoicing scam. Watch out for suspicious behaviour.

10. Be frugal: keep costs down and avoid unnecessary purchase of new assets. Set your small business a cost reduction percentage target and stick to it.

These 10 tips for small business survival are just a few that any small business owner should keep in mind during these economic times.

If you are in any way concerned that there could be un-seen or hidden risks in your business, get in the right professionals or a business adviser before it’s too late.

You may be grudge them a professional fee but when you consider it is really a pittance compared to the cost of closing your doors.

Small Business Success Strategies – Learn Some Effective Tips

The small business owner is looking to utilize as much as possible to garner success, and getting a handle on small business online marketing tips may be just the thing to help move the success closer to realization. Having a very good product or service that meets the needs of the consumers is wonderful, but marketing those products and services becomes a challenge when you do not have understanding or how-to knowledge. Getting a handle on what your specific business needs to increase the market awareness is an important goal for the small business owner. There are various and numerous books and other venues that give tips and strategies, but focusing on some effective online marketing tips may be an option that can bring more awareness to a wider audience much sooner.

One key strategy for the small business owner is networking. An age old process of increasing business, this process developed trust. Referring people to businesses that have proven their commitment to quality and customer satisfaction may still be the way to go. The social networking culture of the Internet may be an avenue that accomplishes virtually what used to be accomplished in the physical. As the specifics are being developed in the social networking arena, investigation of this aspect of business communication and promotion is a step that could develop your understanding of what this really means to your business. As well as provide the next step for you to take in order to increase awareness for your business.

Creating a website that describes what you offer on what the audience needs is one of several real important small business online marketing tips and another strategy for the small business owner. Small business owners must develop the website content for their business that will draw the interest. Giving the audience that something that spells out what makes you different from the competition is a real key to the website success. There is so much information on the world wide web that it can be truly overwhelming. Finding a way to let the audience know what that something is for your business is a design factor that may need to be explored.

Video marketing is a way to get personal in the virtual world. The world wide web can seem so impersonal even after creating a website that defines you from the competition. The current technology culture is demanding that there is a need to participate in the relevant success medium for businesses. Videos have become a way to put what you have to offer in the mainstream. Heavily utilized by the entertainment and other industries, creating a video to market your business products and services is another one of the small business online marketing tips.

Tips That Will Let You Use Small Business Marketing For Maximum Results Easily

Are you a small business owner that is always searching for ways to attract new customers? There are some tips that you need to use to help you use business marketing to get the maximum results you can.

You just have to be sure that you actually use these tips if you really want to get the maximum results possible from every marketing method you use. The following are the tips all small business owners need to remember and use if you really want to use every marketing method to your advantage.

One: Start small – Too many business owners try and do each method they are able to at one time. This is a big mistake and will not help you achieve the maximum results for any method you use.

It is important to start small using just one marketing method at a time, especially when you are new to marketing your business using multiple methods. This will allow you to concentrate on learning how to use it right and then putting it in to action for attracting traffic to your business.

Two: Take your time – You have to realize that using marketing methods will attract traffic to your business, but it is not going to happen right away. Time is going to be required to get every method up and working effectively for your business.

If you don’t give each method time to work for you, then you will never achieve the maximum results from it. Marketing is an ongoing process that is always going to take time because rushing it will have the opposite effect to what you are trying to achieve.

Three: Learn and then take action – One mistake that many people make when marketing with any method is not learning to use it correctly. You need to educate yourself on the method you are going to use so you don’t waste your time when you do put it into action for your business.

Educating yourself about each method is the only way to accomplish the maximum results from each method you use over time. Once you are confident you know how to use it, put it into action and this will help you always ensure maximum results from all marketing methods you use now and in the future.

These are the tips that you need to use for small business marketing if you really want to accomplish the maximum business results with it. Market using these tips and on a continuous basis and you will start seeing positive results from each method you do use and this is definitely going to help your business grow to become successful.

Having a Spotter in Business Development

I recently watched Mark Wahlberg’s movie Shooter “again”. I really love this movie! In the movie Shooter, actor Mark Wahlberg’s character is a sniper and he lost his spotter. He died in a maneuver that went wrong. This spotter was the sniper’s good friend and military comrade. So, he recruited actor Mike Pena as his new spotter.

The movie reminds me of business development. You know, in business development, you really should not go it alone. There should be a business development team. The team would be responsible for finding new business opportunities, pitching the company’s products and services to ideal prospects, attending pre-bid meetings, attending trade conferences, drafting bid proposals, and attending competitive interviews for short-listed vendors that have responded to solicitations for bids.

For any one deal you are going after, it would be neat to have a spotter. In business development, it would be neat to have a spotter to tell you what is out there with respect to business competitive intelligence.

The spotter was the sniper’s look out man and he would advise the sniper by calling out sayings such as:

You’ve gotta get out of there!
Incoming… 2 o’clock!
They’re right in front of you!
They’re all over the place!

Not to make light of military maneuvers, but it would be really cool to have folks looking out for you in a similar way in business development settings like government agency pre-bid meetings or competitive pitch interviews. Your spotters could tell you what the prospects’ staff and what your competition is up to. This is known as competitive intelligence. If you are in there alone, you may miss out on what others hear and see with respect to business and development and business competitive intelligence.

In the Mark Wahlberg movie Shooter, my favorite line in the movie is when an elderly, retired sniper says:

“The world ain’t what it seems. The minute you think you got it figured, you’re wrong!”.

This is precisely why it is extremely important to have a business development team. The more intelligence you can gather about who your competition is, what your competition is saying and doing, what your competition is likely to do, the better you’ll be able to figure things out. Even if you cannot afford to hire someone full time, consider paying a consultant to show up and give you feedback on what she is hearing and seeing.

By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD – President

Lemongrass Consulting Inc.