Setting up a small business is tough work — even for the most energetic entrepreneurs. For example, developing products and and securing funding can be challenging, not to mention finding the perfect business location is a problem in of itself.
However, sometimes the biggest risks for small businesses emerge long after the above requirements are fulfilled and your company opens its doors. To help you avoid these risks and pitfalls, here are five simple ways your startup business can sustain long-term success.
1. Look After Yourself
Long hours are inevitable in a startup business. And if you’re the sole founder, this can take a toll on your health and jeopardise your family life. Further, company success is largely based on being creative and adaptable and thinking clearly and quickly. If you’re too burnt out you could find yourself making expensive mistakes that work against your early successes.
Solo entrepreneurs should find a trusted second-in-command to keep things moving forward and share the business burden. This can also help a solo founder resist the urge to micromanage staff that have expertise in their own areas.
Overall, schedule plenty of downtime alone or with friends and family so your brain can relax and recharge. And remember that entrepreneurial success needn’t be contingent on risking your health and happiness.
2. Building Security
Insuring your business is a must. If you store valuable stock on-site then you need to take the precautionary step of installing security cameras and burglar alarms. Many small businesses fail to do this, which financially and emotionally damages small business owners who’ve put their heart and soul into achieving their business vision.
If you have trusting relationships with neighbouring businesses you can look out for each other – especially if you operate different opening hours. And if there isn’t a pre-existing neighbourhood watch scheme, establish one yourself and lobby fellow independent businesses for support.
And if your business conducts things such as normal bank runs, make sure that you vary your routine and consider having another member of staff present. Clever criminals can monitor your routine with ease then strike when you’re most vulnerable.
3. Physical Safety
If your staff operates heavy equipment or handles hazardous substances, it’s obvious they’ll need appropriate health and safety training as well as protective clothing. But safety doesn’t stop there. Floods and fires can affect any type of business, with potentially fatal results.
Electrical maintenance contractors know that specialist fire ceiling protection helps prevent disasters at unmanned sites — it’s second nature. But if you’re running an office supplies firm, for example, the risk might not be obvious — until a fire wipes out your stock and endangers staff.
Appropriate fire safety provision is a legal requirement in most countries but it’s wise to pay a little more for a system that provides complete peace of mind. And don’t forget that if you operate near other businesses or close to residential areas the impact of fire on your neighbourhood can be devastating, which further increases the need for protection.
4. Digital Marketing
Establishing an online presence for your brand can be extremely lucrative. It allows you to target customers precisely and establish a positive reputation in your locale and beyond. If you don’t have the in-house expertise necessary to keep up-to-date with the latest social media and email marketing techniques, then it’s important to secure the services of a good digital agency.
These agencies will build and optimise an excellent website and monitor your digital channels on a regular basis. Depending on the nature of your business you might eventually migrate your entire offering online in order to keep operational costs to a minimum without reducing service standards.
5. Data Protection
No matter how modest your IT systems are, make sure they’re safe and secure. If you store staff and customer details it’s your duty to protect them so they don’t fall into the wrong hands.
Not to mention, commercially sensitive electronic information about your business can be targeted by hackers and sold to unscrupulous competitors. So use password protection and encryption whenever necessary and invest in robust data protection software.
These five simple tips might sound like ‘no-brainers’ but getting simple stuff right first time is the foundation for a flourishing business.
What are your top tips for first time entrepreneurs? Share your stories in the comments section.