10 Things You Should Know About Owning A Small Business

May 1, 2017

As you’ve started the thrilling journey of owning a small business, you’ve done a lot of planning.

You’ve registered a company name. You made a website. You may have even bought a store.

As you’ll find though, every day is an adventure. With those adventures will come challenges.

We’ve picked out 10 important things for you to know as a new business owner. Keep these in mind in the coming days and months!

1. You’re Going To Have To Put In The Time

When you had a nine-to-five job, you could wake up a couple of hours before you had to go to work. You could leave work at 10 minutes past five.

You might check your work email once or twice in the evening. Otherwise you left your work at the office.

Once you become a business owner, that all changes.

There will be so much to do, almost too much. You’ll likely be at the office hours before your coworkers arrive. You’ll stay long after business hours end.

It wouldn’t be unheard of for you to work weekends, either.

Your job responsibilities have changed. Instead of answering to a boss, you now answer to yourself.

That’s why you should follow your passion when owning a small business. If you love what you do, the long hours won’t seem as strenuous. The ebbs and flows of business will be more tolerable.

That said, you do have to take care of yourself. Your business can’t run without you, not in the early days. If you run yourself ragged and get sick, you’re hurting your company in the long run.

2. It’s Hard To Run A Business With Just A Few People

Hiring employees costs money.

You have to pay to put an ad online or in the newspaper. You have to pause work duties to interview candidates.

You have to pay for their workspace, their equipment. You also have to pay their salary.

As your business gets started, every cent matters. You don’t want to waste even a single penny.

You might decide to hire just a few employees, maybe three or four. Each of them has an official title.

As you’ll see though, those titles won’t mean much. You’ll start asking each employee to do more and more.

Your engineer might be doing HR. Your store manager might be trying to give you legal advice.

This is problematic for a few reasons.

First, these employees will feel stretched too thin. They’ll get overwhelmed and burned out. They may quit.

Next, they’re not giving their full attention to any one job. That means poor performance all around.

Lastly, they may lack the expertise needed for these other jobs. How much does your engineer really know about HR?

Although it’s more expensive at first, hire the right employees for the right job.

Get an HR person. Hire a lawyer. You’ll be glad you did.

3. You Will Wear Many Hats

We just mentioned how important it is to avoid overloading your employees. You don’t want that for them, but you will often ask it of yourself.

That’s because owning a small business is a tough job. You need to be a marketer (more on this later), a friendly face to your customers, a leader to your employees, and a good business partner.

You need to be a website designer, a blog writer, an internet guru, and a social media butterfly. The list goes on and on.

It’s okay if you need help. You should have a solid team who can step in if asked.

Generally though, the crux of owning a small business is that you will do many different duties on any given day. This will get easier as time goes on, and your skill set will improve, too.

4. You Must Learn About Employee Safety

You probably try your best to keep your office neat and tidy. You sweep up messes, throw away food waste, and take out the trash.

That’s a good start. Legally though, your office must comply with employee safety regulations.

If jobs require the use of equipment, all employees must know how to use that equipment.

If operating said equipment or other heavy machinery, employees may require safety gear, like helmets, goggles, and earmuffs.

Floors and stairs should always be kept clean to avoid slips and falls. You need railings for all elevated areas.

Your office should not have any wires or cords that could cause someone to trip. Chemical equipment should also be contained and only used by trained employees.

Building safety is one of the most important aspects of owning a small business. If an employee is hurt (or worse) on the job, you’re going to face a lawsuit.

5. You Should Have An Employee Handbook

Employee safety is important, but it’s not all you have to worry about.

You also have to think about employee behavior.

What happens if an employee can’t work because of surgery? What if someone in their family dies? What if an employee is the victim of sexual harassment?

You need to decide what to do in all those situations.

Don’t wait until those issues creep up to do something about them. Take the time in the early days of your business to write an employee handbook.

Here are some of the areas the handbook should cover:

  • Personal internet use and sending personal emails during working hours
  • Privacy policy
  • Alcohol and drug use policy
  • Safety rules
  • The procedure for sexual harassment, discrimination, and other complaints
  • Sick day policy
  • Personal time policy
  • Vacation policy
  • Bereavement policy
  • Inclement weather policy
  • At-will employees versus temporary employees
  • Working hours
  • Salary and raises

You can feel free to make changes to this handbook as your company evolves.

6. You Will Have To Say No

Part of owning a small business is saying no.

Yes, really.

This may seem counterintuitive to everything you know as a small business owner. If you say no, you could miss out on business opportunities.

There are only so many hours in the day, though. You can only spend so many of them working.

Eventually, you’ll have clients and providers you work with. You’ll have a good amount of employees. Business will be going along swimmingly.

It’s during those times you need to say no.

Don’t just slam the figurative door in someone’s face, though. You never know if your needs may change down the line. Leave room for a potential partnership in the future.

7. You Should Learn Ways To Pinch Pennies

As a small business owner, you have to spend money carefully at first.

There are plenty of small things you can do that can add up to big savings, though.

Use recycled materials at the office. Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. Pay all your bills on time to avoid late fees.

Now might not be the right time to order cushy new office equipment. Make smart decisions and, gradually, you won’t have to pinch those pennies quite as hard.

8. You Will Have To Advertise

Marketing is the name of the game when owning a small business.

Without promoting your company, who will know you exist?

You need a website with a blog. You need social media pages.

Have a grand opening sale at your bricks and mortar store. Rent a billboard ad. Advertise online.

Marketing can get very technical. If you’re not sure what SEO and SERPs are, that’s okay. As mentioned, you can always ask for help.

You might want to consider hiring a marketing company to do advertising for you. The money you put into hiring the company should come back to you as you gain customers.

9. You Must Know What Goes In A Contract

You’ve surely read contracts before. You’ve likely even notarized a few of these in your lifetime.

Now you’re the one who has to make the contracts. Each time you hire a new employee, you need a contract. Each time you make a new business partnership, you need a contract.

If you’ve never written a contract before, you can find tutorials and samples online to help you.

That said, it’s best to ask a lawyer to read these over. You don’t want to accidentally give up your rights because you misinterpreted something.

Remember, once both parties sign, the contract is legally binding. Make sure the language in the contract matches your intention.

10. One Of The Biggest Things To Know About Owning A Small Business…Customers Matter

You know the saying, “the customer is always right”.

Your customers are always right. They’ve chosen to do business with you, after all.

Sometimes customers can be frustrating.

No matter what, keep your composure. Train your employees to do the same. Your reputation is what keeps these customers coming back.

As long as you treat your customers right and value them, you’ll do fine owning a small business.

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