8 Keys to Running a Successful Small Business: Advice for Entrepreneurs

 So here is another post in our entrepreneur section, 8 keys to running a successful small business.

Starting a business is one of the most daunting challenges you can face in life, but also something that can be one of the most rewarding. Whilst some people say it something you are either born with or not, I believe that there are several key criteria you need are going to turn your venture into a real success, and here they are.

 

#1 – Perseverance

This is my number one criterion for anyone who is either starting out with a new business or currently running a small business. When you start out you will undoubtedly face many setbacks in what you are doing. Everyday there will be new problems, things will go wrong and you will wonder if you should be doing something else instead. But don’t give up. The only certain way to ensure your business will not grow and become great is to stop entirely. So take the good with the bad and keep on pushing, it’s the only way to progress.

 

#2 – Confidence in Who You Are

Running a small business is a trade-off. You are swapping all of the security, social status and anything else that comes with a role at a larger company for the opportunity to create something for yourself. There will be no big brand name when you tell people about what you do, just that of your small company, so it is essential that you are confident in who you are and don’t need these external boosts. It is likely that your cash-flow will be tight, you might not earn what you could elsewhere and you may have to cut back on some of the other things you do in your life. If you can be truly happy with who you are having taken away your job and financial security then you will be a great entrepreneur.

 

#3 – Accept the Risks

One of the things that quite often kills small businesses is the unwillingness to take risks. Playing things safe might seem like a good idea not to spend the extra money on advertising or not invest in developing new products until you are 100% sure where your cash flow will come from, but that can really slow down your growth to the point of standstill. Learn to accept the risks and use them to your advantage. Let them motivate you. Chances are, most of the time the risks don’t have the terrible consequences you imagine. At the end of the day, the worst that can happen is you run out of money, but you can make it back afterwards. All it takes is for one gamble to pay-off and you are in the big leagues. Sounds like its worth a shot to me!

 

#4 – Be Passionate

If you run a small business then there is no better way to succeed than to be passionate about two things; What you are doing and succeeding. Being passionate about the area where you run your business is essential. A great saying is “Do what you love and the money will follow”, not the other way around. Many of the biggest business owners in the world started out with doing what they loved and then came across something that people would pay good money for, and you can too. Secondly, love to succeed. Try to improve everyday, not only at work but on yourself. Every step forward you take brings you a step closer to your goal, so keep striving to succeed, and when you do aim a little higher.

 

#5 – Organisation

There is a big myth in society at large that entrepreneurs and reckless gamblers who will put it all on the line to win the jackpot. But that isn’t the case at all! The more organized you are in everything you do, the more you will see progress and your business will grow. Measure your progress and set goals for you to reach, look at the different ways you can find new customers and keep track of what works. Data analytics for small business is a rapidly growing industry for a reason, because the more you know about your business the wiser your decisions become.

 

#6 – Know when to Accelerate and when to Pivot

Some small businesses can spend years and years designing and testing their first product spending millions of pounds, only to take it out to the market and find that no one wants to buy it anyway! This is a crazy way to run a business and something that you should try and avoid. Instead, get your minimum concept designed and built as soon as possible and then give it to people to try. Get as much feedback as possible and then decide whether to accelerate with your product (i.e. put more resources into it) or to pivot into something knew (change your approach based on the feedback you have received). Pivoting doesn’t mean giving up, rather using what you already have to move into a new area that better solves your identified customers problems.

 

#7 – Use your Resources Wisely

Now this doesn’t mean save every penny you can. This means user your friends, family, friends families, anyone who you have met on the street! Do you know a web-designer friend who can help you with your website design, or perhaps someone else who works in a small store and would take your idea to their boss. Look for advice wherever you can. People working jobs are all specialists in their own small areas, so find out what they do exactly and see what you can learn from it. There is no advice like free advice!

 

#8 – Take Some Time off

One of the dangers when you start a small business is burning out. Your small business is probably driven by the work of 1-3 people, and if you don’t do it then no one will, but this doesn’t mean you need to work 24 hours a day every day of the year! Organise weekends away every now and again and give yourself some breathing space from the business. This will not only help you to de-stress and re-gain your passion for what you are doing, but also can often help your to see things from a different perspective and lead to lots of new, great ideas you wouldn’t have seen from the inside!

 

And there you have it. A simple 8 tactics you can use to make your small business a success this summer! If you enjoyed this post then you can also check out our post on 5 Keys to Finding your Niche in a Market.

5 Keys to finding your Niche in a Market: Tips for Entrepreneurs

Now we love design here at Avélére, but we don’t just want to tell you about that. One of the reasons Guro and I are so proud of Avélére is that we have taken it from a drawing on a sheet of paper to a real life business, and we couldn’t be happier about it! We want other people to experience the same feeling as we do, and that is why you will find us sharing tips for starting your own business on our Avélére blog.

In my opinion, one of the most important things about starting a new business is to find a niche that you can make your own. By doing this you will be able to become an expert in a particular aspect of your field, as well as benefitting from less competition in the beginning which is really crucial in helping to set up the business. So here are my 5 key tips for finding your niche in the market!

 

#1 – Look in an area that genuinely interests you

Now this one might seem obvious, but people just don’t seem to do this a lot of the time! When you are looking for a niche in a market it really means that you need to understand a lot about that market because you have to find a product in an area where other people have not. Don’t start a shoe company when you really know a hell of a lot more about food. Be specific, use your knowledge and look at your competition. Find out what they don’t do that you can.

Hugh Hefner started a small magazine about something that interested him...

Hugh Hefner started a small magazine about something that interested him…

#2 – Ask your friends, family, neighbours… anyone!

The aim of any business is to solve a problem that people are having, so if you are struggling to find that great niche you thought you could then start talking to someone else. The single best way to start a business is to hear people complain and listen. Find out what it is that annoys them, a place where they are loosing money, a product that they are really unhappy with or a problem they have in their life at the moment. Take these problems and find out how to fix them. Don’t listen to people when they say “I have a great business idea for you” because that isn’t what you are after. You are after a problem that no one is solving and no one has even thought to solve. That is your niche.

#3 – Your niche doesn’t have to be unique

When people start looking for a niche they tend to throw away a great idea at the first sign of something similar. Well here is a surprising truth; it is virtually impossible to find something new. It doesn’t mean the idea is worthless if someone else has noticed it, quite the opposite. It shows there is a problem that others have recognised and attempted to solve, what you need to ask yourself is “can I solve the problem better?” The first business Guro and I started is called Designer Base Shapers where we make inserts to strengthen designer handbags. When we found the niche we weren’t the first people there, but the incumbents were doing a very poor job of serving the market. We knew we could offer something better at a competitive price, so that is where we started. You can do the same, just understand the benefit you can bring to your customers that other people don’t.

#4 – Take your niche and then evolved

This step is the most crucial and under rated in starting a business. Once you have found your niche you need to get to work. Make a prototype, test it out, improve it and start selling. Keep things simple. Then start to grow. Order some stock. Improve your website. Move the stock from your house to a warehouse. Continue to grow step by step. And when you have a strong foothold in your niche area look to evolve.

Emerging from a niche is difficult, but it is the real art of running a successful business. Starting your first business is a great adventure and you will learn so much, but as you start to venture further from your niche things become more difficult and you need to carry on learning. Like anything in life, once you have your foot in the door it is just a case of opening it wider, and with your niche base of customers, you will have the support to try and grow your business into something great.

Richard Branson started with record stores, but always looks like he is having fun!

Richard Branson started with record stores, but always looks like he is having fun!

#5 – Have fun and be excited

Enjoy starting your business; it’s the only way. Your passion is what will make you stand out in your niche area. You might have seen Wolf of Wall Street and thought “oh, it looks like I could make some money in finance” or seen big consulting companies and thought you might do that instead. But before you go for it, ask yourself this question: Is that really what you want to be doing on a Sunday night? Because believe me, if you are going to start a business then you sure are going to be doing that work on a Sunday night. And a Friday night. And a Wednesday night. You get the idea.

If you are reading this then chances are you have heard a thousand times that “starting a business is really difficult” and I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be. It’s not something that is so complicated you need to be a genius to do it, but rather something that requires you to keep on taking the next step which at times can be really frustrating. The truth of the matter is that virtually everyone you meet is making it up as they go along too, so why not enjoy the experience and bring some energy into the process whilst you go!

If you are having fun, if you are genuinely excited to be doing what you are doing then no setback is going to stop you. Enjoy yourself, work smart and the success will follow.

 

So are you ready to go out, find your niche and start a business now? Thought so!

If you enjoyed this article then why not check out my article on how we plan to grow Avélére as a business in the future!