10 Small Business Management Tips For Success
You’ve decided to take the plunge and become your own boss. Good for you! You already know it won’t be easy, but you’ve wanted this for years and are ready to go.
Now that you’re going to be a small business owner, you need to know about small business management. Chances are you’re already an energetic, highly motivated, well-organized person–so this will be right up your alley.
Before we get into our 10 small business management tips for success, you’d better make sure the name you’d like to register your business under is not already being used by someone else.
- Check your proposed name with our free NUANS preliminary search–this will search the names of existing businesses across Canada except Quebec.
- Create a business plan.
- Register your business.
Great! Onto the 10 things you should know about small business management
1. Register your company as a corporation
You and your business are separate entities, so for tax purposes, you should not appear to be one and the same.
In Canada, a Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership or Operating Name don’t actually provide any name protection–only registering as a corporation or trademarking the name protects it.
2. Create a business plan
You’ve already seen this one, too. But, you wouldn’t build a house without a plan–why would you build a business without one? Your plan should include the following items:
- Business goals and objectives
- A succinct description of the company, including name, names of owners, location, what products or services you’re offering
- As much detail as possible about the market you’re hoping to enter
- Information about the structure of your business: organization and management
- A marketing and sales plan of attack
- Financial projections and information about funding
3. Determine your funding requirements
You don’t have to be wealthy to start a business in Canada, but most small business owners have some sort of financial backing–51.3%. According to a report by the small business branch of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, 97.9% of businesses in Canada qualify as small businesses (under 100 paid employees).
The vast majority of funding for small businesses is personal, but 44.9% receive credit for a financial lending institution. But, now, OMERS Ventures can also help some start-ups.
There’s never been a better time to start a small business in Canada. CBC News reports that 13% of Canadians are entrepreneurs and that Canada is second only to the United States for entrepreneurial activity, “beating most G7 countries and much of the developed world.”
Also familiarize yourself with government assistance, like the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program that offers tax incentives to eligible businesses.
But what about the daily operations of small business management?
Only years of experience can teach you all there is to learn about small business management, but these thoughts should buoy you until you have years under your belt.
If you’re not going it solo, hire great people. By “great” we mean highly motivated, high-energy, trainable people. When someone wants to succeed from the start, that person will be willing to give it their all and will be easier to train than someone who is only looking to make a buck.
Once you have highly-trainable employees, hold onto them by offering perks like flexible schedules, gym membership reimbursement, happy hours, and team-building activities that don’t eat into their off time.
Also, give your employees the respect they deserve by training them well from the beginning, but don’t expect them to understand all the ins and outs of your business right away.
Encourage employees to figure things out on their own, which gives them a sense of ownership of their work.
Value employee-input, even when whatever they’ve brought to your attention isn’t in their job description. If your daily operations are transparent you can take advantage of talents you didn’t know your people possessed.
Leading your team in a respectful, encouraging manner will eventually empower employees so that they’re also good leaders and watching out for the well-being of you and your business.
5. The SOP
For every position, immediately create a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). Creating a SOP will help you turn out a product or service that is consistent in its quality–your customers will know what to expect.
Another advantage of a SOP is that you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you do one job that’s similar to another; you’ll have a guideline to follow that should help you streamline operations.
Additionally, if you have a solid SOP in place for each position, when someone is sick it will be possible for another employee–or you–to do the absent person’s job.
6. Time management
Manage your own time well. Though it’s tempting, resist the urge to book yourself to capacity. Attempt to book your days to only 80% full so that when something unexpected arises–which it will–your day’s schedule won’t be overturned.
It’s much too easy to lose hours to your inbox. Designate a particular time-slot to reading and answering emails each day–clicking into your email every five minutes is a serious time-drain.
Part of managing your time involves being able to delegate work to those awesome employees you’ve hired and trained–especially tasks that you don’t really enjoy doing or those you know you’re not very good at.
7. Marketing and advertising
According to Statista, 32 million Canadians are using the internet.
Find out what social media sites your customers prefer. Are they avid Twitter users? Guess where you need to be. You need to be where they are! Even if you can’t afford a fancy ad campaign, you can afford to use social media to promote your business.
A great way to pull in more customers is by using Facebook Ads. They’re relatively inexpensive (pricing varies a lot, depending on your needs).
Twitter also offers analytic tools that tracks how much traffic your tweets receive, as well as offering paid ads.
If you don’t want to spend money on ads just yet, pull in new followers on Facebook by appealing to them on a personal level–just as you would make new friends in real life.
Ask your followers questions and ask their advice. As you develop your business, think of the questions people ask you about your services/products.
You already know people are interested in those topics, so build off of them. Propose a scenario based on an FAQ and ask the customers to answer. If you’re in the grow-bulb or agricultural industry, you might post: What’s the best way to grow tomatoes indoors? They’ll answer, then you can follow up with your own answer.
The hope with appealing to people on a personal level is that they’ll feel compelled to share your answers with friends or invite friends to get in on the action if you’re polling customers, offering prizes, etc.
8. The competition
What’s your competition up to? It’s easier now than ever to see what the other guy is doing. Follow him on social media.
What’s great about watching what the competition is doing, is not only that you can borrow an idea or two and see what potential customers like, but you’re also keeping up with industry trends.
You must never get so mired down in the day-to-day that you forget to pay attention to the trends in your line of work. Part of that is continuing to network by attending events locally, or by attending industry conferences.
You might secure yourself a mentor–someone who’s several years ahead of you either as a small business owner, or someone who’s a leader in your industry.
Create long-term, short-term, personal, and professional goals. Encourage employees to do the same. Review goals quarterly to see what’s changed, what’s been achieved, and what needs to be revamped.
Your long-term goals should be reflected in the business plan we discussed earlier.
As far as short-term goals go, you might call the items on a daily to-do list your short-term goals.
Spend the last several minutes of each day creating the next days to-do list. If you stick to it as closely as possible, you’ll never end a day telling yourself that you haven’t done enough… that is, if you’ve kept it realistic. Don’t expect to solve every problem in an afternoon.
Finally, establish a budget that you need to stay within.
Cut costs where you can, just as you probably do at home. You don’t really need the name brand pen when the store brand works just as well.