Starting a new business is not as simple as developing a concept and making a website. Successful business operations involve legal and financial decisions about everything from marketing and advertising to mundane inventory management details. Smart business owners begin with a detailed business plan outlining their business goals and operational needs.
Small business owners can get help with their business plans from the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA helps startups and small businesses obtain financing and learn how to establish and market their business. The SBA website has resources to aid entrepreneurs with their day-to-day operations. Read on to learn other small business management skills.
No matter what type of business you have, daily small business operations break down into three types of duties:
- Operations management is the daily business decisions that keep your business running. This can include hiring new employees, training, marketing and advertising, and other administrative duties.
- Project management focuses on income, including production, sales, invoicing and shipping, and monitoring business needs for your company.
- Financial management is concerned with maintaining cash flow, bookkeeping, paying workers, obtaining business loans, and so on.
These operations may be the responsibility of one person while your business is small. As your business increases, you may need to hire someone to perform some of these tasks or outsource them to professionals. For instance, payroll management is a full-time job you can delegate to an outside company if your business is not large enough for its own human resources department.
Marketing and Advertising
Marketing refers to finding the target audience for your product or service. Part of your marketing plan must include descriptions of your business, your customers, and your advertising budget.
Advertising is how you bring your product to your target market. Today, most businesses advertise with a combination of social media, email advertising, and print media.
Online marketing has become a niche business. Not everyone has the marketing know-how to sell a company online. If you don't have a head for keywords, algorithms, and the minutiae of SEO, you might consider turning this over to an outside company.
Some aspects of your business create marketing and advertising opportunities within the business itself. Word of mouth and referrals are still the most consistent drivers of new and recurring business today. According to a McKinsey survey, word-of-mouth marketing affects 20-50% of all purchases. If customers are discussing your business, you can expect them to stop by your website or store.
E-Commerce and Technology
Having a website is no longer an option. You must have an online presence to compete in today's internet marketplace. Part of the customer experience is your social media or internet appearance. Customers used to judge businesses based on how their storefronts and display windows looked. Now, they judge them based on their websites and Facebook pages.
Numerous government agencies regulate e-commerce. If you have online sales, you must follow state and federal laws about data privacy, credit card transactions, and encryption practices. This is new technology, and you may want to speak with a business attorney to ensure you've covered all your legal bases.
It would be nice if money flowed into your business from day one. Unfortunately, making money is one of the most difficult things to achieve with a new business. The SBA recommends starting with a balance sheet to track cash flow. This helps with viewing your current assets and forecasting cash needs. It also provides an income statement you'll need to show banks and investors.
You can hire a CPA to do the accounting or use a template from an online service. At the beginning, you may be able to handle your finances alone. If you don't have the mathematical skills to keep your books, an accountant may be safer.
If You Need Legal Advice
Not everyone has the entrepreneurial spirit to start a business from the ground up. You may have good decision-making skills but lack time management qualities. You could be good with workflow but lack legal knowledge. If you're starting a new business or expanding an old one, you should speak with a business attorney in your area. When you need financial aid or have zoning questions, get advice from someone who can answer you.
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