5 Brazen Insights on How to Build a Better Small Business
by Zack Kirchin
When it comes to starting a business, sometimes having a great idea is the easy part. Building a successful business around that idea takes vision, knowledge and sometimes a bit of luck in the form of favorable market conditions.
There’s another thing that is often the difference between a successful and unsuccessful business venture: savvy business advice. Whether you hear it from specialists in the field or personal connections with industry knowledge, it’s important to weigh the wise counsel of experienced business minds.
In that spirit, let’s look at five key insights from leading professionals on how to build a better business.
1. Keep your financial house in order.
When you start a business, it’s not uncommon to wear many hats — often by necessity. One area where it’s easy to make a critical mistake is finance. There’s more to it than making payroll and meeting tax obligations. Not that paying taxes isn’t important. Steve Klitzner of Florida Tax Solvers says, “One of the most important things for small business owners to do is to pay their quarterly taxes on time.”
Klitzner says not doing so “can lead to penalties and cause the business owner to pay more than they already owed on their taxes.” Business owners should also consider that they may miss out on favorable tax deductions simply from lack of experience. While handling your own taxes saves money in the short-term, it may end up being far more costly in the end, if not handled correctly.
2. Protect your brand.
In business, the health of your brand is almost everything. Be more than a brand caretaker — be an ultra-vigilant brand watchman. This goes for everything from online reputation management to potential trademark infringement. Concerns about infringement cut both ways.
If you accidentally find your company infringing, it could lead to potentially ruinous legal bills. Trademark attorney Josh Gerben recommends business owners perform a top-to-bottom trademark search prior to starting a business. An experienced trademark attorney will ensure your proposed trademark is free for use– and give you peace of mind.
Gerben suggests, “Instead of spending a lot of money to build equity into a brand that may be infringing on someone else’s trademark rights, it is highly recommended that you hire a trademark attorney to do a professional trademark search. "A trademark search performed by an attorney will help to ensure your trademark is truly clear to be used in the marketplace.” By following Gerben’s advice you can avoid a potential legal minefield — which is the last thing any new business needs.
3. Protect your company with small business insurance.
Insurance is one of the costliest aspects of running a business; involving paperwork and administration. So many business owners pass on business insurance and hope for the best. Ryan Hanley says entrepreneurs should avoid that approach at all costs. Hanley, author of the Albany Insurance Professional blog, suggests that “skimping on insurance — especially health insurance — is like playing Russian Roulette with your future.”
While bypassing insurance will save money upfront, the incurred costs of unexpected medical care is often catastrophic to a business. If you or your employees aren’t healthy, chances are the business isn’t healthy either. Hanley encourages business owners not to consider insurance a luxury. He says it is best viewed, not in terms of current price, but in terms of future cost.
4. Market your business effectively.
Even the best managed small business doesn’t get very far without effective marketing. On the other hand, great marketing can sometimes compensate for other areas where a business is lacking. For businesses without a large marketing budget, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to deploy your resources.
One way to market economically is through an online presence. A well-designed company website is critical for all businesses. Internet marketing strategist Jeff Shjarback says that your company website “is an excellent way to increase sales and generate new leads. A website not only draws people in, but offers you a space to communicate with possible customers, current customers and post content pertaining to your business.”
Once you’ve mastered the basics, optimize online marketing efforts through the savvy use of social media platforms. Building fans through services such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram helps generate the best kind of awareness — word of mouth. Other techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) and e-mail marketing can also build your brand and customer base.
5. Plan for future success.
It’s never wise to enter into any situation without careful consideration of the facts and circumstances. It’s even less wise to enter into business that way. A well thought out business plan is vital for success. It helps you design your business approach and gives you a chance to consider variables that are certain to pop up later. It will also give you a good read on the true feasibility of your business model.
Business plan specialist Dick McCormick believes that startups “don’t have to develop a written business plan to start a business. But a comprehensive, realistic plan will greatly increase your chances of being successful. Would you build a house without a blueprint? Would you drive cross-country without a map?” Starting a business without a well-reasoned plan is a good way to seriously diminish your odds of success. A thorough plan will guide you and make sure your business has the solid foundation it needs to flourish.
Zack Kirchin is the senior author at TheTechFortress, a blog that references the latest technology, gadgets, news and more. To learn more about TheTechFortress visit our Google+ Page