8 Actionable insights on how to run a successful small business

by Balaji Venkatesan
Published: Last Updated on

Do you want to know how to run a successful small business? 

Do you run a small business and are you taking the right steps to ensure its success? 

While everybody has what it takes to run a small business, doing it successfully requires a few additional steps. By the end of this blog, you’ll have clear next steps outlined for you to execute the business idea you have in mind. 

The questions to your answers 

The heading is typo-free, not to worry! 

This rule holds good from the beginning through to the very end: Always Ask Yourself Questions. 

  1. Why do I want to pursue this idea? 
  2. What problem am I solving with this product/service? 
  3. How do I go about running a business? 
  4. What are the goals I want to achieve by starting up? 
  5. Who are my competitors and what makes me stand apart from them? 
  6. How much funding is this business going to require and how am I going to procure the necessary funds? 
  7. Who is my target audience? 

These are some of the most important questions you should be asking yourself. 

  1. The ‘WHY’ is what keeps you going through the highs and lows and what keeps you grounded and focused at all times. 
  1. Every product/service has to have a reason for existence. There has to be a need for it in the market. Your product/service has to solve a problem for your customer. 
  1. Research enough to know what is required for you to start your business, on all fronts. Be it finances or legalities, learn and understand the necessary steps you have to take in order to start and run a small business. 
  1. Set clear short-term and long-term goals for your business and for yourself. This will give you direction and milestones to achieve. 
  1. A thorough market research; you find out about your competitors, see what they offer to the customers. The next step is to identify how you stand apart from them. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), that’s going to attract the customers to purchase from your business. 
  1. Budget the finances required to start your business. Operational costs, capital investments, legal fees, etc. List everything out and have a clear idea on how much you’ll be spending to start up and stay in business. 
  1. You’ve decided on a product/service you’re going to sell. Whom are you going to sell it to? Oftentimes, small businesses fail to identify their target audience and end up wasting their marketing efforts on a generic audience. The more defined your audience is, the more leads you will convert. Spend some time and define your target audience, you will see the results for yourself. 

You have to plan, business(wo)man!

Meme on planning.

We all have our ‘I don’t even have a pla’ moments and that’s okay. 

How to run a small business then? Well, drawing up a business plan is non-negotiable. Here are a few reasons why: 

  1. Goal Setting – It gives your business a sense of direction. Set short term and long term goals for your start-up. This way, you and your team know what to work toward! 
  1. Details – The devil really is in the details! In the process of writing down your business plan, you will come across refining your existing plan and resolving issues that might have occurred along the way if not for proper planning. 
  1. Gauging Success – How do you know you’re succeeding if you haven’t set up the necessary parameters in place? Determining touch points for your business’ success helps you keep track of the efficiency of your operations. Based on reports, you can work on the drawbacks and take measures to stay on track to succeed! 
  1. Building Faith – This one is an all-rounder. Having a business plan helps all the people involved clearly see your vision for the business. It’s easier for investors, prospective employees and sometimes even yourself, to understand the core purpose behind the business. 
  1. Know Your Customer – You are only as good as your knowledge about your target market. Knowing your customer will prove highly beneficial while charting out a marketing plan for the business. Speaking of customers,

Customers make or break your business

You have put hours of hard work into your business. Bought the equipment, hired the right people, brainstormed the process multiple times. All you want is to establish your business and make it successful. After all this, if your customer isn’t delighted to purchase the product/service you’ve worked on, the entire effort goes in vain. 

Good customer experience is paramount to the success of your business.

Stats on customer service.
Source. Microsoft

Interestingly enough, the before and after of the buying journey are more important than the purchase itself. Customers reportedly state they would be happy to pay more for a good customer experience (86%, to be precise).

The following are some reasons why customer service is important:

  1. Customer retention costs much lower than customer acquisition. And in order to retain your customers, you should make sure their experience is smooth. 
  1. The experience your customer has with your business speaks a lot about its brand and values. 
  1. A happy customer is a loyal customer. If they are happy with your brand, they will be more likely to purchase from you in the future. 
  1. Good customer service directly reflects in improved sales and ultimately higher revenue. 
  1. Happy customers refer you to their friends/family. Word of mouth is one of the biggest benefits of good customer experience and we’ll talk more about this in our next segment. 

Word of mouth

You’re on Instagram. You want chocolate chip cookies. You look up places that sell it in your locality on the app and come across one that interests you. The pictures look nice, the page is active. 

What do you do next? You subconsciously look for a ‘Reviews’ highlight. 

Why is that? Because we determine a brand’s worth by the reviews we hear about it. 

This is word of mouth and it works wonders for your brand. 

Traditional word of mouth is referrals from friends and family in person. Word of Mouth marketing is the same concept both in organic and paid methods, wherein a customer shares their experience about a brand digitally. 

Stats on word of mouth.
Source. BigCommerce

Word of mouth serves you in a 360 degree manner as it helps with the following: 

  • It is far stronger than paid advertising efforts. 
  • Buyers are more likely to purchase something based on recommendation from their friends/family. 
  • Positive word of mouth works very well for your brand’s goodwill. 
  • This is one of the most efficient methods of organic marketing.
  • Make sure your customers are happy and they will do the rest for you. 

A word of caution

Word of mouth should be taken seriously. Negative customer experiences lead to bad word of mouth and that can affect your existing and prospective customer base. 

It’s human nature to remember the bad experiences over the good ones. As for word of mouth, negative referrals can create a negative image about your brand even to customers who have never interacted with your business previously. 

Pay attention to your customers and make sure you deliver a delightful experience for them! 

Marketing on the Internet

Yes, we mean digital marketing. This is where the goodies are! 

Stats on digital marketing spending.
Source. Statista

This is How To Run a Small Business 101. Today, digital marketing is one of the key factors in building a successful business. There are numerous benefits to online marketing and here’s why they are undeniable: 

  • Digital Marketing is cost effective as opposed to any traditional forms of marketing. 
  • The ROI on digital marketing can be calculated and measured to the T. 
  • Your business can get in touch with buyer’s from the very first step in the buyer journey. 
  • Your customer is a few clicks away. 
  • With data points, highly targeted marketing campaigns can be created for the right audience. 
  • The success of said campaigns can be measured through numerous digital marketing insights and tools. 

Digital Marketing is a gift to small businesses. We understand there are a lot of avenues to be covered, a lot of planning involved and a requirement of know-how in order to ensure success from your digital marketing efforts. Talk to us and we can create and execute your digital marketing strategies for you! 

Account for it

As a small business owner, it is crucial to keep account of all your business transactions. 

While drawing the business plan, your business’ financial position is to be considered as well. The existing funds available, sources of funding, budget of expenditure (both capital and operational in nature), break even analysis, etc. This needs to be written down and accounted for to have a clear picture. 

This helps you with decision making at every stage of the business. It additionally helps prospective investors and bankers tied to your business. A well maintained book of accounts earns the business goodwill points in the eyes of everybody. It also serves you well to pick out any possible mismanagement of funds. 

Cut costs

It’s a given that you will be running on a tight budget in the beginning. Make sure you minimize costs as much as possible, save up on every avenue that you can and cut down on overall business expenditure. 

A few pointers we’ve put together for you: 

  1. Most Meetings can be Emails 
  2. To Barter or not to Barter 
  3. Third Party Contracts 
  4. The Greener, The Better 
  5. Hire Fresh Talent 

To know more about cutting costs, read our article on 14 money saving tips for small business owners.

Social media prowess 

The significance of a strong social media presence has become glaringly obvious. It is no longer enough to have a presence across social platforms. There are a number of things to keep in mind when establishing social media presence for your brand: 

  • Content Strategy for all platforms
  • A solid website to direct customers towards
  • Brand tonality and language
  • Engagement with your audience 
  • Organic and paid lead generation 

And so much more. In order to succeed, you will require a well thought out social media plan. 

Why is it so important for you to establish a strong presence on social media? 

  1. Your advertising costs are cut by considerable margins. 
  2. There is increased brand awareness and visibility. 
  3. Customers can find you across multiple platforms. This increased their trust in your brand. 
  4. By linking the pages to your website, you get increased web traffic. 
  5. It is an excellent platform for promoting your products/services. 
  6. Usage of small business statistics. 
  7. One-to-one customer interaction has never been this simple and effective! 

This is a round up of 8 actionable insights on how to run a successful small business. We hope this list proves useful for you. We can’t wait for you to implement this and much more, ultimately setting up a successful venture.

As mentioned, digital marketing can help you go a long way in marketing your small business and we’re here to do just that for you. Reach out to us and let’s make your business a success together!


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