Many professionals open up small businesses because they are great at doing their current work. They believe they can transfer their skills into a small business and succeed. Yet, running a successful small business requires other skills like marketing and managing people and finances to get your small business off the ground. If you don’t have these operational skills, you may need to get help with planning the operations end of your new business. Here are some details you need to include in your strategic planning for small businesses:
Start your small business planning as soon as possible. If you have limited knowledge of running a small business, work with specialists who can help you draft your first business plan, set up your standard operating procedures, handle your legal, administrative, and staffing needs, and develop a strong brand for your business.
What do you hope to achieve? Decide how you will measure whether your business is successful. Then, set measurable and attainable short- and long-term goals for your progress. Typical objectives of a small business include launching your product or service, increasing productivity or traffic to your online market platform, quantifying costs, setting pricing and hiring top talent.
Once you set your business goals, write a solid business plan. This business plan details your growth plans for the next three to five years. It captures all aspects of your business, including the organization structure, personnel plan, anticipated products and services, sales and marketing plan, and financials. If you need financing, a well written business plan will be required. So do one now to clarify your next steps and to be ready to present it to possible partners or funders.
As the small business grows, you will need to delegate some tasks or get experts to handle your non-core operations like customer service, logistics, and legal services. You can outsource these non-core operations or create a hiring process that attracts and compensates top talent.
Finally, work on your customer acquisition and retention strategies. For example, aim at improving your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), take regular customer feedback surveys, and offer top-notch after-sales services.
How can I offer a cost-friendly retirement plan to my employees?Especially in today’s job market, you need to be able to attract the quality employees you want. Some type of retirement plan is one of the things new hires most often look for in a new employer. You can set up a 401(k) or other type of retirement plan without a lot of cost, and really set yourself apart from other small employers. Consult with a financial advisor knowledgeable in all your options. He or she will show you several retirement strategies including a SIMPLE IRA, SEP IRA, 401(k) or even a Defined Benefit Plan, depending on your goals.
What other benefits do employees want now?Apart from a competitive salary package and a retirement benefit, small business owners can offer health, life, disability insurance, child care benefits, education benefits, paid time off, even gym memberships. It’s important to talk with your staff to determine what benefits they actually want. You may be able to create a “cafeteria plan” which allows them to pick those benefits most valuable to their own family.
When should I plan for my eventual exit from my business?Small business succession planning is necessary for ensuring business continuity after you retire. But don’t leave it for later! What if something happens to you unexpectedly? If you have a partner, this is even more important. Have the conversation with a specialized advisor about how to plan for the eventual sale of your business. Without a lot of investment, you can protect your business in the event of your death or disability, and at the same time put in place a plan for its eventual sale when you retire. This is one of the considerations many small business owners never find time to address. Do it early and you and your family will have peace of mind as you build your business.