When you’re starting and running a small business, there’s plenty of big stuff to deal with. Getting bogged down with the details can seem like overkill — and a recipe for insomnia. The success of a small business can often hinge on the details, though.
Small Business Considerations
About 88 percent of the businesses in the U.S. have ten employees or less, and often they have fewer than five. These small businesses have a large impact on local economies. The upside is that seminal businesses can get underway with less inventory, smaller loans and less personnel than their larger counterparts. There is power in those numbers: If even 30 percent of small U.S. businesses hired a single employee tomorrow, the country would be at full employment. The down side is that small businesses can get underway with less planning, too — and less planning almost always means mistakes and waste.
Even if you feel comfortable filling a small niche that will provide enough revenue for modest growth:
Lock in your financing – Money matters, and in tough economic times, it matters even more because lenders raise the bar on eligibility. Currently, about 10 percent of payday loans are used for small business financing. That’s a statistic you don’t want to become a part of if you can help it.
Get expert help – A human resources consultant, accountant and good attorney are the bare minimum you’ll need when it comes to expert assistance in launching and maintaining a business. You can muddle through with do-it-yourself books, but with free help from local colleges, SBA websites, and mentoring programs like SCORE, you don’t have to.
Match the effort to the goal – You can wish to double your business in a year, but if you don’t have a plan and processes in place to support your efforts, your aspirations will remain wishful thinking. Details are the fabric of a strategy, and any useful strategy has solid, practical underpinnings.
Expect reversals – You can plan beautifully and still miss the mark. Paying attention to the details means hitting the mark more often, but small failures are still inevitable. The trick is to build workarounds into your strategy and know your options well enough to recover when things don’t go the way you expect them to.
Cost effectively – Understanding your costs is critical and can be harder than it appears. From freight charges to shrinkage, knowing where you are today is the best clue you have for determining your cost of goods sold — and for targeting areas that need immediate attention.
Become a pricing expert – Effective pricing is one of the most critical factors in any business. Price your goods or services too high and you lose business, undervalue them and you risk generating crushing volume — and losing money anyway. Finding the right balance can be a big challenge, but making a practice of analyzing customer and visitor behavior, and keeping a close eye on the competition, will get you moving in the right direction.
The details are there whether you’re paying attention or not. When you take them into account, though, you can get ahead of the trend, the problem, or the potential opportunity. Most professionals think details are important, but it’s the ones who open the sack to find out what’s rattling around inside that have the best shot for taking home all the marbles.