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Mapping a future for your small business

  • Blog
  • 24 November 2015

Starting a business takes a lot of planning, and a lot of hard work. You have to adjust course as you progress and once you open your doors, literally or figuratively, you can exhale and take in the moment. Appreciate the magnitude of what you’ve accomplished just by being able to say: I run my own business.

Don’t sit back in contentment for too long, though. Remember, “Fail to plan and you plan to fail” is not just some nice words printed over tranquil lake shore scenes on motivational posters. You really do need to have at least a basic idea of where you see yourself, and your business, in the future. Here are our tips to get you started on mapping a future for your business.

Mapping a future for your small business

Have a business plan

A business plan is exactly what it says. It’s your plan for what you will do, when, how and who else you might need to help you. It may seem like a huge undertaking, but if you take it step by step and tackle one aspect at a time, you’ll soon have at least a working outline you can expand on later. Focus on finances, opportunities, analyse your competition, your customers, and pay attention to detail.

Protect yourself

Being in business comes with many risks, too. It’s easy to miss all of the possibilities and of course you can’t possibly anticipate every eventuality. Just put on your most gloomy hat and try and analyse the potential risks to your business. The FSB can ease some of the burden. As a member, you are entitled to legal and tax protection and advice, health and safety and employment law advice and legal documents, all included in your membership. You also have access to experts in insurance, card payment systems and pensions. All things you need to consider when you are the one making all the decisions that will help your business thrive.

Set a deadline

Make sure you have a timeline. “One day” is likely to become never unless you set a specific date by which you either accomplish the set goal. Or review it. Things change constantly, so it’s perfectly fine to find that what you thought to be a great idea is now a fruitless enterprise 6 months later. Reset, and chart a new course. Setting a deadline forces you to review your progress and make changes before it’s too late.

Build up your credentials

Very few people land in business fully formed. Chances are that you are an unknown in your field. That means you have to build up your reputation. Getting a customer to abandon their current supplier to do business with you is a tough job, and unfortunately there are no shortcuts. Start by getting your name out there. If you use social media, comment on posts from people who already have a following. Post handy tips for your trade, regardless of what it is. Offer a free taster service. Go to networking events in your area. Most importantly, be consistent in your service. When customers recommend you, you want to make sure that you provide the same excellent service that earned you hat recommendation.

Starting a business and keeping it going requires time and effort. The fact that you are in business for yourself singles you out as someone not afraid of that work. And the FSB will support you every step of the way.

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