Community Futures offers simple strategies for success

Community Futures offers advice for small business owners.

In celebration of Small Business Week this week, Community Futures is offering advice from experts across its 34 offices throughout rural B.C.

Following are five simple tips than can lead to small business success:

The best business plan remains flexible with measurable and realistic goals – One thing constant is change. Operating a business can lead to a lot of surprises, so along with a solid Plan A, have a well thought out Plan B.

Many entrepreneurs know what success looks like for them; they’re just unsure of how to achieve it. Focus on realistic revenue projections, expense management and know where you  want your business to be down the road. This will help you make the right decisions and investments early on to reach your goals. Being under-capitalized at the beginning makes every day a struggle and could result in missed opportunity and goals.

Cash is king – Being profitable only on paper doesn’t mean all is OK. What really counts is what’s in the bank. Cash flow is the biggest issue for new businesses.

Stay on top of your receivables (customers who owe you money); business owners need to keep a close eye on money owed to them as well as money they owe. Margins may be great, but if you are not collecting at the same rate you have to pay important expenses like payroll and taxes, it could be the end of your business.

Keep your friends close and your competition closer – Studying your competition is one of the best ways to learn how you can make your business better. It’s an excellent way to learn from what they’re doing right, while avoiding what they might be doing wrong.

Rest assured that your customers are keeping a close eye on them too.

Don’t stop believing and don’t stop learning – Remember that old saying: “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” It’s very true and it very much applies to you and your business. It takes time and patience to get your brand out there.

The rate of change in today’s world is crazy, and you need to keep up somehow. As a small business owner, you are the business. An investment in yourself is an investment in the business.

Treat your employees like they’re your customers – Your employees are your internal customers; be open to hearing their feedback.

Employees are stakeholders in your business, too. Employee engagement adds to workplace culture, so hire the right fit for your organization’s culture.

You can teach skills but you can’t teach attitude. Communication is critical; having team meetings and a written policy manual can be helpful because you want to make sure your employees understand what is expected of them and what you want in return.

Ongoing training is often overlooked by small businesses. How your employees deal with situations, questions and special requests are things you need to make sure they understand before they get in front of clients.