Five steps to a thriving business

If you’re wondering how you begin to expand your business, think about some of these ideas to help get you started.

When you’re considering starting up a business, an important point to remember is that preparation is key! If you are organised and have fully prepared before you begin, you have a good chance of creating something successful.

Following in a friend or relative’s footsteps, making your dream job a reality or you’ve just seen a gap in the market for something, with the right steps, it could be the start of your big success. Just remember, the more unique your business is the less competition you’ll have!

You will often find that the big companies found their success in the growth of their business, expansion often opens so many more opportunities which helps to achieve that thriving business status. Growing your business has many advantages which will all contribute to your thriving business, for example, a larger business often comes across more reliable to customers than an SME which contributes to a larger turnover, resulting in, potentially, more profit. Other examples include the fact a bigger business tends to be able to get discounts from buying in bulk orders, meaning you will save more on spends compared to smaller businesses.

If you’re wondering how you begin to expand your business, think about some of these ideas to help get you started:

  • Find a second location – opening up a second office or shop could be the best way for you to expand. Before doing so, ensure there is room for your business, check whether there is lots of competition, if so, maybe rethink the location.
  • Widen your target market – a bigger target market reaches out to more people resulting in a larger customer base. You may also want to offer extra services to meet another, more specific target audience.
  • Consider merging with another business – although this may not be your first choice, there are lots of benefits which come with merging. For example, all the other business’s customers and skilled staff would become yours, as well as their knowledge and experience in other fields.
  • Get online – As soon as you build your own website or join one of the many social media sites, you are immediately accessible to anyone on the world wide web – what better way to reach out to new customers/clients!

If you’re only just at the beginning of your business journey, growing it may not be what you’re thinking about just now. Starting a business in it itself may seem scary at first but to ensure it works and will be a success adds a whole new pressure, but don’t worry – we have listed the first 5 steps to help you get your business off the ground and heading in the direction of success.

Before you jump into anything, you should assess your financial situation, you want to make sure you will be able to afford it before it is too late! So make sure you have got accurate figures! Once you know exactly how much you will have, you can set budgets and start spending and investing your money wisely, ready for your business.

How do you plan your finances?

  • Firstly, create a budget which covers all aspects such as sales, staffing costs, equipment costs etc. Don’t forget to make it realistic, an unlikely budget could throw your finances off, if the business doesn’t end up doing as well as expected.
  • Secondly, you should find out which funding is best for you. After you have calculated how much you will need, you will need to decide what short-term borrowings and what long-term borrowings would be best for your business, these could be anything from a short-term overdraft to a long-term loan.
  • Ensure you monitor your business’s finances throughout, this avoids any surprises down the line which could potentially break the business. Keep an eye out for anywhere where you could possibly cut costs or save money by using different companies, for example switching energy providers if your current provider raises their cost.

Another very important job on your to do list, which should be a priority, is to learn and understand all the legal aspects surrounding your business. From picking your name, sorting your taxes, filing for trademark protection, etc. All areas should be covered, you don’t want to, again, get a few months down the line and then get pulled up on a legality.

What questions should you ask yourself?

  • What legal structure will you be? A sole trader, a limited company or a partnership?
  • Do you need a licence? This is common in hospitality, catering or businesses which deal with hazardous equipment.
  • Are you covered for health and safety? It is important you have a risk assessment to help find any potential risks which could affect anybody in the business, you should then put procedures in place to avoid these risks and also worst case scenario plans of action.
  • Do you have business insurance? For as long as you have staff working for you, it is the law to have employer’s liability insurance.
  • Are you VAT registered? Should you be? If the annual turnover of your business is 81,000 or higher, you legally have to get VAT registered.

Stay relevant – knowing what the customer wants will keep you on par with, if not above, your competitors. Staying relevant with new and upcoming technology will ensure faster and more efficient software, resulting in you being able to provide a better service.

Develop a relationship with your customers through personalised emails etc, even after you have made a sale, this makes it more likely that they will come back in future, resulting in repeat customers.

How else can you keep your business relevant?

  • Get on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. In 2017, there were 2.46 billion social media users worldwide – it’s a great way to reach out to people!
  • Embrace change. It is often easy to find yourself sticking to what you know, however this could result in your company losing out on business, especially if your competitors are all caught up.. An example of a change which could occur is social media. The popularity of social sites change over time, once it was Facebook, then Twitter and now it’s between Snapchat, Instagram and Linkedin. You should ensure you have a profile for the most popular sites for maximum reaches.
  • Always update your software to ensure they don’t become slow, a slow service will put your customers off from returning.
  • Listen to feedback and take it on board, nobody knows about what’s relevant better than your customers, so listen to what they have to say.

Brand loyalty will really help you lift your business above others, customers feeling trust with you will be a huge benefit. There are many ways to build brand loyalty including, engaging your customers, listening to feedback and dealing with feedback appropriately, show your appreciation etc. a customer who has trust in you will not only return but also spread a good word of mouth to family and friends.

Other ways to increase brand loyalty

  • Brand consistency – a consistent quality, design, customer service. Customers usually come back to a business because their previous experience was good, so to keep the customer, keep the service at a good, consistent standard.
  • A clear cut logo and design comes across more professional and reliable.
  • Offer 100 per cent customer service at all times, before, during and after the product is purchased.
  • Display customer reviews and success stories so other customers can read real life opinions on the quality of your service.
    Make it personal, for example in follow up emails, include their name.

Business plans are a definite must have! They allow you to cover all aspects and help you to review everything at once. It is a good way to get organised and see what you may have missed out, sticking to a business plan will ensure a clear path for your business to follow. To write a business plan remember to include an overview of your business, opportunity, execution and a financial plan.

Don’t forget to also include:

  • Executive summary – what is your company? Do you have a mission statement? Is there any background information about employees, the location? Are there any plans to grow etc.
  • Market Analysis – look at your competitors, strengths and weaknesses. Are there any trends which you could jump on or any ideas you could make your own?
  • Management – explain the process of how your business will run and cover all the legalities.
  • Service – after you have explained what your service is or what products your business will provide, summarise how customers will benefit.
  • Funding – explain how much funding you will need over the next few years and what it will be used for, whether that’s for salaries, for equipment or maintenance bills etc.

Have you got any secrets for success when it comes to a thriving business? Maybe you had to learn the hard way and are now trying again, let us know your top tips!

Further reading on building a business

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