You took the big risk. You went off and started your own business. Now what? Putting your grand idea into action is one thing, but how do you successfully maintain that idea and turn it into a profitable, sustainable business? Here’s a quick guide for small business owners looking to grow and sustain their established business:
- Utilize your resources: Small businesses may not realize the many resources they have available to them, most of which are completely free through state subsidies. These resources are a great alternative to paying for financial advisors and will help business owners expand their network. Two great resources within the state of Rhode Island are the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center (RISBDC) and SCORE Rhode Island.
- The RISBDC offers small business owners free one-on-one confidential counseling for personalized support in areas including financial statement development, marketing and brand building, and international trade. The center also provides owners with webinars, workshops, and other resources on licensing, taxes, and insurance. RISBDC is a fantastic resource for Rhode Island business owners and can help lead them to future success.
- SCORE has served Rhode Island businesses for over 50 years and provides owners with free confidential counseling and templates on financial projections, business planning, and financial statements. The site has an entire section devoted to local mentors and instructions on how to connect with them. SCORE also hosts regular live online events for the public. They recently hosted ‘Tips for Running a Successful Business for Creative Types, Idea People, and Anybody with Passion.’
- Know your numbers: As a business owner, it is important to understand your cash flow, how you pay for things, and how you generate income. The last thing you want to do is overestimate how much you’ve made in revenue and underestimate your overhead costs. Tracking your finances closely or having someone to help you with money is a strong way to ensure that your business is profitable.
- Access to capital: Business owners always need to have adequate capital so that they are able to withstand loss and downturn. It is recommended that businesses should account for at least three to six months overhead in the event of economic uncertainty.
- The price is right: For your small business to be successful, you need to choose the right pricing for your products or services. If your prices are too high, you may have trouble attracting and retaining customers. If your prices are too low, it will be hard to grow your business and remain profitable. To determine what price is right for your business, try using a free pricing strategy calculator online or researching what other businesses in your industry are doing.
- Know your competition: As stated above, taking a look at your competitors’ pricing can help you when adjusting your own. Going further, it is also a good idea to pay attention to what your competitors are doing in general. What are they doing that you aren’t? What are you doing that they aren’t? This knowledge will help you understand what sets your business apart in the eyes of consumers and will give you an idea of what areas you could improve upon.
- Know your customers: When starting a business, you may have a target market in mind, but that does not guarantee that that is who your customer base will end up being. Understanding who your customers are will allow you to better meet their needs. Using platforms like Google Analytics and collecting customer feedback are two great ways to develop a better understanding of who exactly your customer base is.
- Building an online presence: Small businesses have a huge opportunity that they can take advantage of, and that opportunity is social media. Using social media to market their products/services is a powerful way to engage and build relationships with customers. All it takes is a 15-second video of your new product to go viral on TikTok to take your small business to the next level. With an iPhone and an ounce of creativity, the possibilities are endless.
- Set clear goals: Where do you want your business to be one year from now? Five years from now? It is important to set clear goals for yourself and your business so that you can actively work towards them. If you want to sell your business at some point, start to come up with an exit strategy. If you want to expand your business and offer your products online, figure out how to properly scale your operations. The first step in getting to your destination is knowing where you want to go!