According to the United States Small Business Association, there are over 28 million small businesses operating in the US. These small businesses are responsible for 54 percent of domestic market share.
If you are launching a startup and want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, here are eight tips you’ll want to keep in mind.
8 Quick Tips Every Startup Should Know
1. Carefully Consider the Competition
No matter what type of business you’re launching, you need to be aware of the competition and the industry standards. For example, you may feel it’s reasonable to charge by the hour only to discover others are charging piecework or by project.
Learn about standard deposits, pricing, turnaround times, promotions and accepted unwritten rules before you embarrass yourself or drive away potential clients.
2. Define the Scope of Your Business
New businesses often struggle to define their parameters at the start, especially if clients are asking for services you may not have considered. If you launch a venture that offers printing for brochures, business cards, and training materials, clients may also start asking about billboards, banners, graphic design services and other related products.
Know where your scope ends and where to direct clients if you can’t meet all of their needs. Resist the urge to say yes to every requested job or you may find yourself mired in projects you are wholly unprepared to handle.
3. Enumerate What Makes Your Venture Attractive to Prospective Employees
The Wall Street Journal lists broad job categories, a customized position, more flexibility, opportunities for growth, and better employee treatment as ways to lure quality talent away from huge corporations. New startups often make the mistake of only worrying about attracting clients, but you also need to think long and hard about how to entice the best employees to your door.
Put together a list of potential benefits you’re willing to negotiate. Some, like flexible hours, may cost you nothing at all. Others, like offering quality health insurance and short-term disability insurance, may be worth the cost if they get you top talent.
4. Define Short and Long-Term Goals
Entrepreneur Magazine recommends setting goals of varying time frames so you are able to judge your progress with your own yardstick. For example, if you simply want to run a small side business from your home with perhaps one part-time employee to help you during the holiday season, there’s little sense comparing yourself to a startup venture where the owners are pushing to go public in five years. Know where you are going and where you want to be.
5. Organize Your Finances
Your startup may not make a profit for a while and you may also want to reinvest any profit back into the business. Make sure you have an adequate emergency fund and startup capital so you won’t be juggling your office lease with your mortgage.
If you will be doing your own bookkeeping, learn the software before you go live to avoid costly and time-consuming errors.
6. Know Where to Find Assistance, if You Need it
If you have an accident, get sick or need surgery, having someone you can trust to step in for a while can save your business. You also need to consider if you’ve networked enough to get professional assistance when you need it, especially if you anticipate large projects in the future.
Consider the “what if” scenarios now before they happen.
7. Keep a Reasonable Schedule
Launching a business can easily eat up your every waking hour. Exercise, time with loved ones, meals and even sleep can start to take a back seat to the demands of your startup. From the beginning, define your schedule and keep to it as much as possible. If you want to shut off your business phone at five each evening, do it. If you won’t respond to emails on weekends, make that clear from the beginning. Don’t allow your ambition to overrun all other facets of your life.
8. Make Certain You’re Properly Insured
The Small Business Association enumerates the various types of business insurance available, and the options are broad indeed. General liability insurance can cover everything from slip-and-fall accidents at your shop to legal fees for libel or slander.
If you produce a consumable product, you may want to consider product liability insurance. Meet with your insurance agent early to discuss your venture’s details before a situation arises where you should have already been insured. A single lawsuit could put you out of business, so it pays to explore all options.
Launching your own business is an exciting time. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be better prepared for the process and can avoid costly, frustrating errors.
Do you have any other additional tips on how to be successful in a startup business? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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