Five learning curves all small businesses go through
Regardless of their sector, most small businesses face the same challenges. Whether it’s how to keep costs down, when to hire staff or if you should invest in a bricks and mortar space, these are some of the learning curves small businesses go through.
You must be willing to change
You will have spent in inordinate amount of time thinking about your business before you’ve even begun. With the time, energy, money and passion put into the planning it’s only natural to want to see this come to fruition. But business rarely works out the way we plan.
Whether this is due to factors beyond our control, such as the economic climate, the prevalence of your competitors or the fact the market isn’t as buoyant as you hoped, sometimes you need to change, and fast.
This can be a difficult thing to do. While it might make sense on paper, it’s another thing altogether to undo all of your hard work. However, adaptability is crucial in order to survive. In a world that is constantly changing you need to be prepared to change, too. Remember that the results could be even better than you originally envisaged and that continual development is needed to remain relevant.
Know when to spend and when to save
As a small business you depend on many things for survival, but nothing more than your cash flow. It’s imperative you keep this as healthy as possible and one of the most effective ways to do this is by ensuring your outgoings are as cost-efficient as possible.
Of course, you don’t want to jeopardize your business by cutting corners. Over time you will develop an innate sense when it comes to knowing when to invest and when to seek a cheaper option. Often it’s in your operational costs where you’ll find the best savings.
Firstly, think before you buy. Do you really need that flashy new furniture, or can you make do with a cheaper option? Look at bulk buying everyday items that you use often. Things might seem cheaper to buy online, but be aware of hefty import taxes and duties. Can you negotiate better terms on your lease, particularly when you first move in, or have you considered switching utility providers for a better rate? It’s the little changes you make that will add up to saving money, giving you more freedom and opportunity to grow.
Your emergency fund
You can’t expect the unexpected, but in business you can certainly budget for it. While it’s tempting to pour all your profits back into your business keeping some funds for unexpected events could quite literally be your saving grace.
Your insurance will provide cover during certain events but life will always throw you a curve ball. Be as prepared as possible financially and you’ll put yourself in the best position to deal with the unexpected if and when it arrives.
Even a small fund could be the difference between your business going into debt and being able to function as normal as possible during uncertain times.
Network, network, network
As a small business owner it’s natural to feel fiercely protective of your business. While keeping shtum about your methods is often necessary it can be equally as important, and rewarding, to network with your peers. Not only will you bond with those who are going through similar experiences you might glean invaluable knowledge from those who have gone there before.
Seeking out a business mentor is one of the best things you can do. Owning a business is challenging and uploading your worries to friends or family isn’t necessarily the best way to deal with stress. Mentors aren’t just a welcome shoulder when things go wrong, they are also there to guide you, offer support, advice and inspiration when it comes to developing your business.
Don’t be afraid to upskill
You might be a cobbler by trade, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a coder too. Running a business requires input from other professionals, such your accountant or suppliers, but there are plenty of tasks you can do yourself after some upskilling.
It can seem daunting and a drain on your time, but upskilling could benefit your business in the long run. You’ll be equipping yourself with new skills which will always serve you well whilst engaging in professional development, something that often evades small business owners who are too busy simply keeping things going.
Upskilling can be done on your own time, and online. There are so many free online courses, in everything from web development to graphic design and digital marketing to nutrition, that you’ll gain practical skills and knowledge that you can use to run your business better.