Achieving small business success is no easy feat. Business owners are faced with multiple challenges on a daily basis—they wear multiple hats, never have enough time, and carry the responsibility of the company’s financial success. And the numbers aren’t exactly encouraging, with 70% of new businesses failing by the end of the tenth year.
If you’re a small business owner and want to ensure your business doesn’t end up in the 70% bucket, try out our top tips below.
👀 Does managing a small business need to be this hard? Nope. Learn from your peers and grab our eBook to dive into five small business success stories.
1. Accept the life that comes with being a business owner
Know what you’re getting into when you sign up to be a business owner. By understanding what you’re getting into up front, you won’t be overwhelmed throughout your experience.
As a business owner, you’re going to have to say goodbye to the traditional 9-to-5 job and get comfortable with taking risks and eating costs. The key to small business success is being resourceful, working hard, and continuously educating yourself on the landscape.
You have to remember that you’re now your own boss—you’re not working for anyone but yourself. This sounds great, but with this comes more responsibility. You need to hold yourself accountable for every business decision and be extremely self motivated.
When we think of success, we tend to think solely about profitability, but there are lots of other areas that business owners need to focus on to achieve true small business success. For example, below are the most important measures of success, according to small business owners. Aim to excel in many, if not all, of the areas outlined in the chart below.
2. Don’t skimp on communication tools
No matter what industry your business is in, communication is pretty much the one non-negotiable thing that you have to do well. Think about it: How often will you be communicating with your customers, prospects, employees, and partners? It’s safe to say on a daily basis. The last thing you want is to get cut off during an important phone call or lose a sale due to an unreliable communications system.
Get your hands on a communication tool that is reliable and mobile-friendly, so you can manage your business from anywhere. A phone system is an obvious must-have, but what about video conferencing and messaging apps? Look for a complete, unified communications system that can offer all three—one that’s easy to set up and manage and makes your employees more productive.
Do you want a reliable communication tool that is rated #1 by industry experts and trusted by more than 350,000 small businesses? Take a test drive of RingCentral, a single app for messaging, video meetings, phone calls, texts, and faxes. With 99.999% uptime, your business will even stay connected during outages and disasters.
🕹️ Get a hands-on demo at how RingCentral works by booking a product tour:
💰 You can also use this calculator to see roughly how much your business could save by using RingCentral to support your team’s communication with each other, clients, freelancers, and more.
From nonprofits and dental practices to law firms and financial firms, business owners are achieving small business success with RingCentral—without the need to be in the office. Take a look at Steve Rice & Associates for example. After switching to RingCentral, the financial firm is able to save 60% in annual telecom costs and automate its workflow with a new CRM integration.
3. Line up your essentials
Before opening the doors to your business, line up your essentials: customers, money, and inventory.
Work your sales magic and gather as many interested customers as you can early on. You can’t rely on customers to always come to you—you need to go to them. Line up your list of interested customers, so when you open your doors, you already have business to work with.
When it comes to money and inventory, you need to remember that you’re starting off small (and not big like an enterprise), so every penny counts. Line up your money and inventory on a regular basis, so you know exactly what you’re working with at the start of every day. Learn how to become a pro at cash management, budgeting, and worksheets.
Cash flow can be a big issue as a business owner, so remember to calculate your costs and prioritize your spending on needs over wants. If you’re unsure where to start, check out our blog post: Calculate startup costs: What business owners need to know.
4. Be frugal
As a small business owner, you need to be frugal. Money is the oxygen for your business, so think twice before you make a big purchase. If you’re still in the first or second year of your business, it’s especially critical to watch and track every nickel you spend.
What are some quick and easy ways to be thrifty? Here are some quick tricks:
- Ditch the file cabinets and go paperless by turning to the cloud.
- Connect with your audience through free channels, such as social media and virtual networking events.
- Make your office at home, or consider a hybrid work model, to avoid being in the office full-time.
- Use free apps. Sometimes we forget that there are so many free apps available to take advantage of, like this entire list of the best free business software for small and medium-size businesses.
5. Surround yourself with good company
When your business goes through ups and downs, you want the right people by your side to help you get through it all. Make it your priority to surround yourself with good company. This includes your employees, customers, peers, and inner circle. You want to build a supportive and positive environment where everyone can thrive together—not butt heads.
Hire amazing employees that are dedicated to your small business success and retain your happy customers. When your customers are happy, they become loyal buyers and brand ambassadors.
How can you guarantee every new hire is the right one? Learn how to find the best talent for your business.
Make the effort to connect with other small business owners and form a community together. You can learn from another and share management best practices. Even get a mentor that can offer you valuable business insights and advice.
6. Grow your confidence
Did you know small business owners are battling underconfidence? According to a recent Kabbage study, 60% of small business owners ranked their revenue growth below the fiftieth percentile of similarly sized small businesses. Yet, when comparing their true cash flow and revenue data, it’s revealed that the vast majority have healthy revenue performance. In fact, 74% met or exceeded the overall index revenue growth of small businesses over the three-month period prior.
As a small business owner, confidence is key. Believe in your business, your team, and yourself. It’s not always going to be a smooth road ahead, but that comes with owning a business. Don’t let one setback make you doubt your ability to succeed. Keep a close eye on your revenue growth and celebrate your wins, both big and small, to boost your confidence.
7. Avoid burnout
Managing a business is not easy and it’s no surprise that burnout sometimes comes with the territory. It’s ok to work late hours every now and then, but don’t let burnout become a norm. Severe burnout can damage you and your business more than you might think.
In fact, 91% of workers say having an unmanageable amount of stress negatively impacts the quality of their work, and 83% say burnout negatively impacts personal relationships. You can’t be a successful small business owner if you can’t take care of yourself first.
No matter how busy your schedule is, set aside time to take breaks and focus on your well-being, both mentally and physically. If your mind is clear, you will be better prepared to tackle the everyday business challenges that come your way.
8. Engage your employees
Did you know 40–80% of customer satisfaction is directly affected by employee attitudes? There’s a reason why people say the key to happy customers is happy employees. Take care of your employees and make sure they’re not only satisfied, but also engaged.
In fact, according to Gallup, high employee engagement leads to better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability. Try out these tips to get a little extra boost in engagement:
- Listen to and act on employee feedback.
- Recognize and reward your employees on a daily basis.
- Invest in your employees’ career growth and development.
- Lead by example and coach your employees.
- Provide your team with robust tools that make their job easier.
Your team represents your business—make sure they’re happy to come to work every day by providing an amazing culture.
9. Streamline growth
Every day, there are new trends emerging and new tools being released. Build a business model that is flexible and adaptable to turn these changes into opportunities. For example, if your customer base grows exponentially, consider adding a contact center and customer engagement platform to the mix.
As your business gets bigger, try to streamline growth. How can you accomplish this? Start by choosing versatile tools that aren’t one-trick ponies. This way, you can have one solution to meet all your business needs vs juggling multiple tools (that can become hard to manage and expensive).
You’re already one step ahead of the curve if you have tools in place that are scalable and can easily grow with your business. Bonus points if you’re able to get tools that integrate with your existing software and equipment—this helps increase efficiency in the long run.
One step closer to small business success
You’re one step closer to small business success with these top tips by your side. Embrace every aspect of owning a small business, both the good and less-than-desirable aspects. Once you set up shop with an unbeatable communications system, assess your essentials, establish the right support network, and implement scalable tools, you’ll be ready to tackle any business challenge thrown your way.
Originally published Feb 17, 2021, updated Dec 30, 2022