In 2020, things have been somewhat rocky for small business owners. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has meant that many small business owners haven’t been able to weather the storm of repeated closures and drastically lower footfall. Some, of course, have still survived, through a combination of good luck, resilience, and a solid business strategy. The latter has never been more important than it is in 2020; if you’re going to start a business this year or next, then you absolutely need to be able to prepare for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Here’s our beginner’s guide on how you can start a successful small business in 2021.
Get enough cash together for several rainy days
One of the most important things about being a small business owner is being able to face potentially difficult times with confidence. You can only do that if you’ve got enough cash saved up to weather as many storms as possible. If you’re just starting your small business and you need some cash, it might be worth considering taking out an unsecured personal loan. This way, you can clear any debts you might have to your name, get some capital for starting your business, or inject the operation with a little money if it’s flagging somewhat. However you do it, make sure you’ve amassed enough money to be comfortable before starting your business.
Make sure your idea is bulletproof
Obviously, no small business idea is completely and utterly fool proof. However, you should try to ensure that your idea is as solid as it can possibly be. We can’t give you a concrete idea of what that should be, but it should complement your skill set and be an area in which you feel you would fit comfortably. Once you know what your idea is, do some research into other businesses in that field and try to understand their formula for success. Simultaneously, try to identify niches in that market that are underserved, because that’s where small businesses thrive best. If you have a solid idea at your business’ core, then it will always attract a market.
Create and adhere to a business plan
Your business plan will serve as the cornerstone of your entire operation. A successful business plan consists of a clearly delineated mission statement for your business (i.e. what you intend to provide and how you intend to provide it), along with the key operational parameters of your business and how you’re going to differentiate yourself from the competition. Of course, a business plan will change and shift over time, so it’s important to keep revisiting this document, but the core ideas behind your business should be absolute. Not deviating from these ideals is how you’ll attract and maintain a core customer base over time
Don’t neglect the legal aspect
The last thing you want as a small business owner is to get tied up in inconsequential (or, worse, significant) lawsuits that threaten to massively disrupt your business operations. It’s important to pay close attention to the legal situation in which your business will operate. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to hire an entire legal team to take care of this side of the business; just being au fait with the potholes you might run into should be enough as you begin operations. However, as your business increases in size, you may want to consider a dedicated legal team, because the number of potential legal grievances will increase exponentially as your business’ size does.
Create a strong brand
Unfortunately, a modern business isn’t particularly likely to succeed if it doesn’t have a strong, memorable brand behind it. Weaker brands will mean customers or clients won’t remember your business and will instead opt for competitors who have worked on this aspect more diligently. Remember to carry out the appropriate market research and try to understand your demographic in order to create your brand. After all, it won’t do you any favours using colloquial language if you’re a business-focused brand, and you won’t want to be overly professional as a retail outlet. Be sure that your brand matches the tone and mission of your business plan.
Sweat the small stuff
Registering your business, considering what kind of company structure you would like, and understanding the general ins and outs of business are all extremely important skills for a business owner. While you may have a dream and the will to execute that dream, that won’t be enough to get you through as a business owner. You’ll need a thorough understanding of how business operates and the minutiae of running a business. Even as you begin to delegate and hire more and more staff, you should never lose sight of the smaller details, because those could be what trip you up later down the line.
Hire a dedicated accountant
Although you should be sweating the small stuff in your business, believe us when we say that you will want to hire an accountant. Crunching numbers is an incredibly difficult and involved task, so it’s best left to the professionals. While it may initially seem like a difficult expenditure to justify, an accountant will pay for themselves eventually by identifying areas in which your cash flow could be optimised. This way, you can take care of the aspects that are important to you – branding, growing the business, networking, et cetera – and you can leave the mathematical side of the business to someone who understands it. Even if you’re skilled in accountancy, you may still want to consider an external hire, because it’s an awful lot of work to undertake alone