By Brian Kieley, SCORE Mentor
With Thanks to: Ralph Coker
Ready to open your business? Focus on these 3 things to improve your chances of success
Congratulations! After a lot of work and planning, you’re ready to open your business! While there is much to do, here are the three things that need the biggest investment of your time and brainpower.
Marketing is used to create, keep and satisfy a customer. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, you need to let your potential customers know your business exists to entice them to your location or visit you online. If you don’t have a marketing background, hire a professional if you can afford it. Think about what makes you a customer for products and services you like, and try to mimic their marketing approach. If you do hire a consultant, be an active participant in the development of the marketing plan and its execution; this is YOUR business, not the consultant’s! Your potential customers need to hear YOUR authentic voice.
Once you’ve created customers through marketing, you need to induce the customer to buy your product or service. Get comfortable with selling your product/service and selling yourself. Your customers are already interested in what you sell so you have to make sure you’re ready to deliver. If you don’t like selling, you’re going to find it difficult to develop and grow your business.
You’ve already got your business plan, right? This is the time to stick to it, especially cash flow management. Use existing online tools (often free or inexpensive) or hire a bookkeeper to keep track of your receipts and disbursements. Do this every day. It may feel like you’re making money because your bank account looks good but don’t lose sight of the bills. A periodic Cash Flow Statement is good business practice and essential to running a successful business. Make sure to get the statement at least monthly, but more often is even better, particularly when your business is new.
Be sure you have the time to market, sell and manage the cash flow. Outsource all you can (considering the cost/benefit), and, if you have workers, delegate. Consider outsourcing functions like bookkeeping and human resources (recruiting, hiring, payroll and employment taxes). Depending on your business, you may want to use a temporary agency to look after most of the human resources activities.
Your new business needs the best of you to ensure success. Discipline is key. Don’t get bogged down in the low-value chores of running a business, while neglecting the all-important marketing, selling and financial management. You can do it!
About the Author:
Brian Kieley is a mentor in the Austin chapter of SCORE. He has a long career as an executive in payments, customer service, operations, social media, and product development.