Thursday, March 11, 2010

9 Tips for Small Businesses

1. Have a clear plan.

Having a plan keeps you focused and excited; as well as allowing you to predict the future and assess your progress. Delmar and Shane (2003) found that failure to plan increased the likelihood that new ventures would fail in their first 30 months. In their research they found that although many small businesses complained about the amount of time needed to develop a detailed plan - that putting aside time now, saved time later.

Also a concise, focused plan gives you something to excite and attract customers and it gives your staff (whether one or fifty) clear direction and something to work towards, which is very motivating in a small business.

2. Believe in yourself.

If you don’t believe in yourself, why should others believe in you? Self-belief and a positive attitude is a significant competitive advantage to the small business.

There will be tough times, and you will be tested, but you have to keep your unwavering believe in your ability to succeed.

3. Believe in your business.

Like believing in yourself, you have to believe in your business and its products or services. If the belief in the business goes – then the business is gone.

Your products or services will be continuously challenged by competitors and the better your business the more it will be challenged. You need to recognise that direct competition is telling you that you’re doing something right – now all you have to do, is to do it better.

4. Your staff are your future.

Make sure you select the right people for your business, whether it’s one person or fifty. Your people are your future – so empower them to be part of your success.

A ‘small or family business’ does not imply a culture of parent-child relationships, but implies a team working as one towards a common goal. The small business team works effectively together, supporting each other every step of the way, within a business environment of openness and honesty.

5. Never lower your standards.

Your business standards create your image – a highly respected image creates customer loyalty – customer loyalty creates business success and sustainable growth.

There may be a temptation when things are tough to lower standards and it might even give your business short-term relief, but it will have long-term consequences. So keep your standards high and you’ll keep your customers. It is these very standards that creates your business image and with it the potential for sustainable growth.

6. Build strong collaborative relationships.

Your suppliers and key contacts are important relationships in the development of your small business - even more so than with larger organisations. Identifying and developing collaborative relationships with the right people can add significant value to the business. These relationships would include your bank, auditors, lawyers, IT support, and key suppliers for your business.

Selecting the wrong suppliers and key contacts will not only have a detrimental effect on your business, (e.g. when machinery doesn’t work or service isn’t provided on time) but can actually destroy your business for good.

7. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.

Know yourself and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. If you recognise what your strengths are you can build your business around them. Similarly if you’re aware of your weaknesses and how these impact the success of your business, you can ‘employ’ the skills you need, either formally through hiring the right staff or informally through friends and contacts.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Don’t let pride get in the way of asking for help. We can’t know everything, so when in doubt or unsure – learn to ask. Build a network of friends and business contacts that you can trust to give you the answers you need (rather than the answers you might want to hear).

9. Be proud of what you have achieved.

Give yourself permission to praise yourself. Having a small business is not easy and the owners are often so busy with today and tomorrow that they often forget what they have achieved, how far they have come and in what circumstances.

Our World has just experienced a severe global recession, where many large corporates have either been bailed or failed; so any small business that has survived should be very proud and you should take the time to recognise your achievement.


Delmar, F. and Shane, S. (2003) Does business planning facilitate the development of new businesses? Strategic Management Journal, 24(12), p.1165-1185.

1 comment:

  1. Nigel. I agrred with every point. A great blog. Well done. Thanks for doing this for us your friends and those that haven't yet had the pleasure to meet and know you. Carl