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Strategies for Small Business Success

One of the more popular trends in the business world today is the increasing rates of small business ownership.  Many entrepreneurs are realizing they have unique, marketable talents that can be translated into sustainable going concerns.  According to a recent Intuit report entitled “Future of Small Business”, the number of small businesses in the U.S. – most of them solo operations – are projected to reach 42 million by 2026.  If you want your business to be successful and not just a flash in the pan, here are some strategies to consider.


Find Your Ideal Niche

One of the biggest mistakes new entrants make is to try to be all things to all people.  In this context, the old adage of less is more certainly applies.  In general, the approach of “I’ll do anything” is not perceived to be very professional and can actually work against you.  Prospects may question skills and qualifications, view you to be unfocused, and may even conclude you are desperate for work.

While targeting a niche is not necessarily an imperative in the beginning stages of your business, it would behoove one to ponder potential specializations as their business evolves.  A more targeted focus brings many benefits such as being seen as an expert in the field, the ability to command higher rates, enhanced marketing efforts, and an easier time keeping abreast of the ever-changing regulatory landscape.


Hire Quality Talent

Employees are the greatest asset of any enterprise.  Being on the front lines, they are typically the most connected to your customer base.  Hiring self-motivated individuals that are capable of performing autonomously with little micromanagement is key to proper time and resource management.  Additionally, hiring personalities that will mesh well with your company culture is also an important consideration.

Ideally, you want to discover where your core competencies lie and delegate the rest to professionals that are more qualified to handle the role.  By way of strategic delegation and synergy, you will often find that you can make more money with more hands on deck.


Manage Your Cash Flow

Many small businesses go belly up simply due to poor financial management and control.  In fact, as opposed to marketing and operations, poor cash flow and quality financial controls are typically the main reason start-ups go the way of the dinosaur.  Don’t become a statistic – seek ways to enhance inflows while minimizing outflows.  When it comes to minimizing outflows, look for ways to reduce your overhead expenses.  This can bring many benefits such as pricing flexibility, the ability to better weather recessions, piece of mind, and increased profit margins.


Don’t Burn Yourself Out

This one may seem intuitively obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people bite off more than they can chew.  It has been said that if you don’t have your health – you have nothing.  Keep this in mind as you work to develop your business and make sure to not over-extend yourself.  While you may think that working ungodly hours gives you a leg up, sacrificing your physical and emotional well-being is a recipe for disaster.  Make sure to strive for balance in all areas of life as it will serve you, your business, and your clients in the long run.


Be Like Bamboo

In Japan, the symbolism of the bamboo plant runs deep and offers many practical lessons for both personal and professional life.  One remarkable aspect of bamboo is that it bends but does not break.  It sways with the gentlest of breezes and yet remains firmly rooted and fixed.  In business, the lesson here is to have a plan and stay true to your core values while remaining adaptable and flexible to changing circumstances and conditions.

Another noteworthy attribute of bamboo is its uncanny ability to bounce back to life after enduring adversity.  During the winter, heavy snow weighs it down.  Eventually, the snow becomes too heavy and begins to fall off the plant.  With renewed vigor, the bamboo then springs back to life and stands tall again.  Like bamboo, we too will experience trying times within our business careers.  The important thing is the ability to spring back as if to say “I will never be defeated”.


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