You have decided to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur. Welcome and 2020 is as good a time as any to follow in the footsteps of Edison (1880), Henry Ford (1903), Jobs (1976), Gates (1975), and so many more illustrious predecessors.

Your journey will be challenging, but what would make it worth your while is the excitement – your first product launch, first sale, first $10,000 in earnings, first million, and fingers crossed many more millions after that.

While the stress and tension of starting a business cannot be taken out of the process, you can follow some general guidelines that make your journey a little more predictable.

Without further ado, we share the best tips for starting a small business.

10 Best Tips For Making Your Business Profitable

1.      Write a plan

Usually, businessmen start writing a detailed business plan when they have to ask the bank for a loan or approach a VC. Otherwise, they mostly plan as a mental process.

Sadly this is where it all tends to get fuzzy after the first few weeks.

Mike Tyson expressed it pithily – “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Mental planning would not survive the first contact with the real world as vendors delay, and your assistant fails to show up on a crucial day since she has the flu.

It is natural to panic and then get distracted from building the most profitable small business.

Hence, write your business ideas down, in exceptional detail.

  • What is the business?
  • What is your product?
  • What is the revenue model?
  • What are your short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals?

This keeps you grounded and acts as your roadmap. If you lose your way, reread the plan to get your compass back. 

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2.      Look at each dollar as the last one

The principal headache that most small business owners face is running out of funds. You have put in your nest egg, borrowed from friends and family to get the project off the ground. Your break-even is eight months away. Act as if you are Uncle Scrooge.

  • Do not spend your way out of a crisis.
  • Look hard at every item of expense, no matter how small.
  • Bargain till you are exhausted.
  • Make every penny count and squeeze out maximum utility.

3.      Build your core team

The size of the core team would entirely depend on the nature of your business. For a small business, it would rarely exceed four-six people in the first few years.

  • Your team must feel excited about the business, they must feel a sense of urgency to make it happen.
  • Find those who share your passion.
  • They need to resonate with you and your plan.
  • Delegate responsibility to reduce your workload but keep a tight leash.

4.      Take a long hard look at your rivals               

We do not mean you go all samurai on them. But you need to have more than a passing acquaintance with their record, product, revenue, and business model. Most of it would mirror your own. It is what is different that matters.

  • Are they doing something better? If so, adapt their approach to your business.
  • You are not the best until you are the best. Learn from your competition.
  • Rivals are your best benchmark. If they are doing well, you are not and vice versa.
  • It is never personal but all a part of the business. The day you let it get personal, you lose the mental edge.

5.      Learn, not earn in the first year

The first year is the incubation period. During incubation, an organism develops its systems – the same for your business.

Get to know –

  • Your vendors and their shortcomings.
  • Your clients and their quirks.
  • Your team and their weaknesses.
  • Your product and its drawbacks.

6.      Focus on customer satisfaction, not revenue

There is just one goal at this time – maximize customer satisfaction. Make them happy, and your bottom line would take care of itself.

  • Focus on maximizing your client satisfaction.
  • Develop well-defined metrics to assess their post-purchase contentment.
  • Ask for feedback and criticism. Do not get defensive if you are told your product has a flaw.

7.      Build a great website

If you have a business, you need to broadcast your presence.

Creating a website for your business is easy with some of the best website builders for small business available for free.

A website is the best way to do it. Social media presence is an adjunct process, not the principal one.

If you are worried about how much does it cost to build a website for a small business, understand that a free website builder makes it very affordable.

Tips to create a good website

  • Explain about your product and why it is more suitable.
  • Write in detail the USPs – unique selling points.
  • Who are you and what drives you through an About Us page.
  • Be quickly reachable through a Contact Form.
  • Blog about your business domain and establish yourself as a thought leader.

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8.      Think mobile

A website is great, but a website that is perfectly tuned for mobile devices is even better. When we say “think mobile,” we do not only mean that your site should look great on a small LED screen.

  • Make mobile technology a part of your business from day one.
  • Use free or cheap technology such as WhatsApp for business to gain an edge.
  • Integrate the mobile payments system into your business model. Square, Apple Pay, Google Pay, QR Code scanning should be part of the core business model, not an afterthought.
  • Enlist for free directory services such as Google My Business to gain visibility
  • Create an app that allows easy access to your services and provides you with the opportunity to send push notifications about tailored discounts

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9.      Focus on differentiation and branding

Is it possible to set yourself apart from your competitors unless you have something like a Tesla Model S to sell? Tough to answer, but you must make a brave attempt.

You might not even know how you are different.

This is where the expertise of a marketing agency comes into play. Of course, you do not have resources to hire someone from Madison Avenue. Look for those in the marketing game for years searching for freelance work on Upwork.

Branding and Marketing tips for small business –

  • To be different, think different.
  • The brand is not a logo; the brand is the soul of your business expressed through a logo. Get the soul up and running and the brand will differentiate itself.
  • If you have a nitty-gritty personality, outsource marketing to those who are more relaxed and can think outside the box.

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10.  Develop contingencies

What did you learn from the US-China trade war of 2019? That the most carefully crafted dropshipping business can go sideways. For years, this niche had made men with nothing else but a laptop and raw ambition into millionaires. Till it all went horribly sideways.

  • Even if you have far exceeded your targets – there is only one truth – the future is always uncertain.
  • Prepare backup A, B, and if possible C.
  • Be flexible enough to turn on a dime.
  • Be up to date with news about the local and global economy, tariffs, supply chain, and demand-side limitations.

Key Takeaways About How To Start Your Own Business

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Number of new businesses that survive the first year – 80%
  • Number that survives to five years – 55%
  • Number that turns a decade old – 35%

In simple words, there is a 45:55 chance your business won’t make it to five years. It is best to look at it as the glass half full – you can make it to the more successful 50% if you are determined and resourceful. If you want to survive, pay heed to these small business tips and use them well.

Remain informed of the emerging technology landscape and scour for software that improves efficiency. As your business grows, do not hesitate to harness new technology such as cloud to develop better platforms for delivery.

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Andrew Palmer
Andrew is the founder of Elegant Marketplace.