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Big Tips For Small Businesses: A Survival Guide

Updated on October 31, 2013

So, you’ve thought about starting your own business, but have also heard how, in the US alone, over 200,000 independent firms have failed since 2008. Those digits are daunting, the concept of failing is intimidating, and a small business survival is such a high-wire act. Then again, aren’t all the roads to success paved with setbacks? Many have argued that the best way to do it is to start small. True, but you can start strong, too.

How small is “small”?

A small business qualifies as such if it’s a profit-making enterprise with one (or more) owner(s) who personally supervises all employees and manages all business functions. Generally, it’s a business with 2 (the owner, plus one employee) to 20 employees – all of whom report to one big boss whose major task involves the direct creation and implementation of business decisions.

Small businesses, along with start-up ventures, have been revealed as key factors in boosting economic growth. But, really, what are the chances that they will survive?

What are the odds?

When starting small, you may find yourself wearing different hats. Sure, you have all these great ideas that ooze potential, but then you know minimal to nothing about the more administrative part of the job – which is a key ingredient in the recipe for your business’s success. Identify your strengths and weaknesses right upfront.

  • Do you have enough management experience? Evaluate, as the lack of it has already accounted for a range of business failures.
  • Do you think you have the chops to do it alone? Think again; no need to be shy about consulting an expert, networking with other entrepreneurs, and hiring staff that can carry out the tasks you’re not good at.

Innovative and creative thinking, when coupled with persistence and aspiration, can perk up the odds of achieving small business success. Are you set on what you want to achieve? Good, because setting goals, paying attention to details, keeping that determination, and motivating others are crucial to your business growth.

Then again, those are not enough. Take this for instance: Becky loves to cook; she’s ridiculously good at it. She dreams to have her own restaurant. But then there are restaurants everywhere, the profit margins are very slim, and consumers are faced with multiple options. What to do? Offer something new. Make sure that there’s a market that’s big enough for what you plan to offer, and that the competition isn’t already too strong.

How do you stay afloat in the sea of small businesses then? How do you plan on keeping your competition in the rear view mirror?

#1 Get a website and keep it up-to-date.

People go to grocery stores to grab some fresh fruits and not gaze at weeks-old piles of goods. The same is true for your website. It is, after all, your company’s face. Therefore, it only makes sense to keep it updated. Inject some life to it by adding new content. Change the web layout – heck, change its overall look. The goal here is to keep your customers coming back too see the latest.

#2 Advertise, and advertise some more!

And why shouldn’t you? It’s the lifeblood of small businesses, especially the ones trying to make a name on the Internet. To consistently attract new customers, you’ll have to put your marketing muscles to use to get the word out about your company, products, and services. Too grand? Then make best of use of the Internet. Exchange links with other stores, or better yet, build a network of stores! Stick it out together. At the end of the day, they’re just as customer-hungry as you are.

#3 Expand.

Business slowed down to a trickle? Don’t panic. Instead, look into new sales methods, poke around new products that will pique interest among consumers, or explore alternative ways for selling your current line-up. With a bit of investigation, take an active role in bailing your small business out of big troubles.

#4 Keep your top talent.

Regardless of the number of members you employ, it’s important that you keep your A-players if you are to survive. In this modern age, financial incentives are no longer enough and people have a much higher regard for the world and the role they play within it. What else can you do? Start by improving your reliability. From there, empower your team as part of a thriving brand. That way, not only are you affording them status, you’re also giving them a greater sense of importance within the business.

#5 Always reach out to customers.

There’s plenty of ways to go about this, but since majority of your market is online, you might as well start with your website. Does it have a good click-through ratio? Besides your home page, do the other web pages get enough views? No to both? If that’s the case, then it’s probably high time that you add valuable content. Embed interactive elements like online forums and live chats. Keep your website interesting, and your customers, clicking.

Small business ownership is always a challenge; it can get really tricky, especially in the beginning. However, if you lay the foundation right, your business might just have the chance to delight in long-term growth. Pursue the experts’ advice, interact with other business people, and seek out help if you need it. Zero knowledge in accounting? Then get someone else to do your books!

Get out there, find a niche, and stand out. Stick to that level of ambition, and keep that positive outlook, for you’re in for a good yet challenging ride.


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    • Hugo Furst profile image

      Hugo Furst 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks, bud! Yeah, I've read something about that, too. I've got more tips for small businesses -- maybe another hub for that? We'll see.

    • profile image

      budee water toy 4 years ago

      Excellent advise. Well written and informative. I believe the failure rate sadly here on the United States is even higher. Voted up!

    • Hugo Furst profile image

      Hugo Furst 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for reading, ladies! Really appreciate it :)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Big Tips For Small Businesses: A Survival Guide very helpful tips here and so useful to many online readers.

    • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

      Stephanie Launiu 4 years ago from Hawai'i

      Really enjoyed reading your hub! You packed it with plenty of good tips for those trying to start a small business or who already have one. Looking forward to reading more from you. Voted up, useful, interesting. Aloha, Stephanie