Your life’s dream may have been to run your own business, or you may have, through family or other circumstances, become involved in the running of one. Whatever your reason things become different from the day that you put on the owner’s hat.
If you are an employee, regardless of your level of seniority, you will not have full legal responsibility for the running of the business. Even a CEO reports to a board of directors but if you are the owner of a business, regardless of the size of that business, legal responsibility will fall to you and that is the key difference.
You can delegate anything from Company Registration through to customer service and Workers Compensation to an employee but you, as the business owner, remain liable for the actions of an employee if a problem occurs. Here we will set out for you an action list that you need to work through to make sure your business stays viable, profitable and generally in good shape.
1. Make sure your business registration is up to date- Is your company properly registered according to law and what actions do you need to undertake to make sure that you maintain compliance. It is recommended that you review this with your legal people or your accountant every six months.
2. Business Plan – Make sure that your business plan is up to date and is relevant to the direction that you want to take the business in. Also make sure that your business plan includes a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). It is recommended that you review your business plan and SWOT Analysis every six months
3.Do a regular financial overview – Your business won’t survive unless you have a tight grip on your finances. Make sure you carefully manage issues like expenses and bills, invoices, ensure that payroll and all staff records are up to date as well as any taxes which need to be paid are paid when they are due on all occasions. Also look at issues such as loans and overdrafts and what they may be costing you.
4.Review account statements from suppliers – Are you getting a decent price from your suppliers and are they providing a good service. If you are not happy with the relationship that you have with your suppliers it may be time to go to the market and develop relationships with new suppliers.
5.Review annual sales –Look at your year-on-year sales. Are you doing better or worse than at the same time last year? Are costs and profit levels where they should be? What do you need to do? Refer to your business plan and make changes if necessary.
6.Keep a close eye on inventory – If you’re running a retail or manufacturing business then inventory is your lifeblood and must be closely monitored You need to:
- carefully match stock levels to sales forecasts
- make special provision for perishable goods
- ensure storage is safe and secure
- work with your accountant or bookkeeper to find the optimum inventory levels.
7. Make sure your customers remember you. The importance of Brand Awareness – There is no doubt that, in the modern business world, brand awareness is all important and it can take time to build it. In a crowded marketplace, customers are likely to forget your service or product, so help them remember.
- You may give some thought to using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or MAS (Marketing Automation System) tool. This will help keep your customers and partners up to date with news about your business. You should use all available communication methods. For example, email newsletters are a highly effective way of keeping in touch with customers – if they’re well written and provide relevant content.
8. The importance of social media – Social media can be a very effective way to market your business as long as you post regularly. If you do not post on a regular basis you will lose your profile very quickly. You make sure your blog always has fresh content, send new tweets and post on Facebook and LinkedIn on a regular basis and regular for these purposes means daily. You may also want to give some thought to engaging the services of a good social media marketing firm.
9.Review your website traffic –Google Analytics is a tool that makes it easier to understand your website traffic. It will identify pages that are performing poorly and pages that are doing well. Website hosting companies such as Wix provide a similar service Ask a web developer to help you with the details if necessary.
10.Keep on top of industry news – Set aside regular time to review industry news. Sign up for Google Alerts and set some alerts so that the news will come directly to your inbox. If you are a consultant in the medical industry for example, you could set one up for ‘medical trends’ or ‘new technologies in medicine’. You should also distribute regular articles to employees so that they are also up to date with industry news and information and make this a regular point of discussion at staff meetings.
11.Learning – Whatever your skills base is make you attend regular professional development training and make sure all employees receive regular training
12.Networking – Attend regular networking events to maintain relationships that will benefit your business
13.HR Compliance – Make sure that you are up to date with the Labor Law that operates in your area and ensure that you are up to date with important things like Health Insurance and Workers Compensation. Either develop yourself or engage the services of an HR Consultant to develop a HR Handbook containing relevant policies and procedures and accompanying template documentation. Your local Chamber of Commerce is a good source of information on these issues and you should consider taking out membership.
14.Quality Accreditation – If you run your business according to IMS Procedures you need to make sure that they are being used and there is an auditable trail of compliance
15.Keep your data safe -Use cloud-based applications to store data and ensure your information is always available and automatically backed up. Relying on your hard drive leaves you vulnerable in the face of burglary, fire or natural disasters. If you use your hard drive to store data, make sure you do at least one monthly backup online or to an external device.
16.Talk to your Advisors and Partners – Arrange meetings with your accountant or bookkeeper, board of directors, business partners and investors. To the extent that you can try and make these meetings informal. Meet them at the office or for lunch or at a café for a half-hour chat over coffee. Review business performance for the last to check you’re on track and agree on actions to resolve issues.
Successful business owners have great habits Set yourself up for success and get into the habit of setting aside time for regular tasks and you need to be disciplined about maintaining that routine Business can move at a rapid pace, especially in the first year so go through and make this action list a priority to ensure your business is going in the right direction.
This will keep things on track and in control as well as helping you with productivity and efficiency which can make all the difference most importantly to your bottom line.
For more tips on starting your own business, visit Quality Company Formation
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