Business Blog – How could we be a nation of better small business owners?

Rose tinted specs 1322-BFCIf potential business owners could see a scale of businesses most likely to succeed and those most likely to fail, before they set up their business, how many would make a different choice?

I suspect that very few would. The initial momentum to start a business for most small business owners comes from the motivation to do more of what they love and to have more control of their own destiny.  It’s rarely to do with being better off financially. (Rose tinted glasses fully in place!)

When we ask the question, ‘What do you want to get from your business’, in the first session of our business building programmes, answers are invariably along the lines of – freedom, better work-life balance, a comfortable living, being seen as the expert in my field. All of this is great, however, we know that, statistically, people who work for themselves earn less than those in employment doing a similar role – in fact, on average, 50% less. Why should that be the case?  After all, they provide flexible, on-tap expertise to other businesses and they are taking most of the risk .They also need to fund their own pensions, holidays and sick days as well as continually invest in their own skills.  As, in fact, not only are they earning less but also work longer hours, self-employed, small business owners in the UK are doing themselves an injustice.

So how could we be a nation of better small business owners?

From our experience these are some of the steps and behaviours which set apart successful businesses from those who struggle.

  • Recognise all the costs involved in delivering your products and services and reflect these in your prices.
  • Know exactly what your cash position should be every month – and for this you’ll need to create basic financial forecasts. (Far from being arduous it can be very motivating to see the potential in your business.)
  • Choose your target markets carefully – it’s not everyone! The best targets for you will love what you do – and you’ll love them!
  • Build a vivid picture of each of these target markets. Be as specific as possible – you’ll then find it much easier to decide on the right marketing activities.
  • Value your services in terms of their value to the customer. So often new business owners say, ‘I won’t charge much to start with as I’m only new in business.’ (You are often bringing a wealth of expertise from your previous employed life).
  • Love your existing customers as much as your prospective or new ones. Talk to them, listen to them and reward them.
  • Think in terms of how you solve problems – or potential problems – for prospective clients, rather than a suite of features.
  • Note the specific steps involved in getting a customer to buy – and work out how you can make it easier and quicker. (It won’t be as random as you think.)
  • Talk to other business owners – be open to advice, ideas, support and collaboration.
  • Think templates, systems and processes for all areas of your business. This isn’t about being weighed down by bureaucracy but about being lean, efficient and scaleable.
  • ‘Only do only what only you can do.’ Recognise your individual strengths and those of each employee or associate – and aim to only do what you do best. Delegate or outsource the rest. (Hard, I know, but key to a more profitable and competitive business.)
  • Make time for exercise – and rest. Recharging your energy and keeping a healthy perspective is not a luxury – it’s a ‘must’.
  • Take advice – and training – to be a better business owner!

This is far from an exhaustive list but these key things are often not in place for businesses who fail completely or business owners who fail to make a decent living. Which, if any, resonate with you?

Business Fit Club specialises in helping businesses to become strong and resilient. We take well-proven and trusted business theory and help you to turn it into business practice – and business success. Take a look at our business building programmes and email me or connect on LinkedIn to talk about how we could help you.

To get a taste of what we do – and get a headstart on your 2016 planning – join us at our Business Planning Bitesize workshop in Reading on 11 November (Only 12 places available)

For a discount code follow BusinessFit Club company page on LinkedIn.

Grainne Ridge, Business Trainer & Business Coach, works with individuals and  small groups to identify or put in place practical ways to grow business and build skills. She is a skilled facilitator and brings real-world experience into all her learning programmes.

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