Make Your Small Business Work for You. Tips for Keeping Your Business Strong.

Each year around this time, small business is on everyone’s minds. But as a small business owner, every week is Small Business Week. As we move further into 2013, you no doubt have big ambitions for your company. As sizeable as your goals may seem, it is important to keep an eye on the fundamentals. As you consider ways to reach new heights with your business, here are some essential things to keep in mind for making sure you stay on a firm foundation.

  • Stick to the plan. As you’re running your business day-to-day, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds, so to speak. Daily details can tend to take over, which is why having a solid business plan is so important. Don’t neglect your long-range plans for success. If you don’t have a plan, start building one now. Tip: Outline 10 key components for a basic plan that include key categories such as executive summary, market analysis and financial analysis.
  • Be Proactive. As with your plan, it’s easy to let the day-to-day activity of running your business put you in a reactive stance. Don’t get hemmed in by simply responding to things that come your way. Set aside time each day to focus proactively on goals for growing your business. Tip: Identify an area to grow your business, such as improving your office space be it through location, managing costs, improving an already-existing office or even choosing the right office equipment, and create a mini plan with executable steps to keep you on track.
  • Be Visible. Be sure to adequately and appropriately market your business and its services. Today's options for communicating provide many low-cost tools for connecting with your customers. Your website should have current information and be easy to navigate and reflect your business accurately. Above all, make it easy for your customers to contact you. Tip: Integrate search engine optimization (SEO) into your marketing and public relations plans to increase online visibility.
  • Be Social. Just as important as being visible by your customers is communicating with them effectively once you are connected. In addition to speaking to them when they’re in your store or utilizing your service, you should also periodically reach out to them to offer additional support. Social media is a great communication tool. Focus your social media efforts on no more than a few key channels to start. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, a blog or all three, be sure to set a plan in place to serve as your guide. The key is engagement. Ask your fans and followers what they want and respond accordingly. Tip: Keep self-promoting to a minimum and instead offer content that excites your fans such as resources, tips and interesting factoids.
  • Money Matters. A chief concern among most small business owners is managing cash flow. Like most aspects of your business, your cash management will improve by having a plan. In addition to simply covering operating costs, your plan should include options for funding the growth of your business. A plan will allow you to assess whether existing revenue will be sufficient or whether you should consider other financing options, such as a small business loan from a bank. Tip: Move away from basic banking accounts and connect with a cash management expert to learn new ways on how to save money and streamline the banking management processes.
  • Bonus Tip: Celebrate Your Successes! Running a small business is tough. Make sure you don’t lose sight of why you get up in the morning and do what you do. Take time to appreciate and celebrate your successes – large and small! Acknowledge your team for a job well done and give yourself a pat on the back. Then, get back to work! Tip: During staff meetings share a “best practice” or “success story.”