According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses make up 99.7 percent of all U.S. employers. Nearly 50 percent of revenue earned by locally owned businesses is re-circulated through the local economy, according to data from the American Booksellers Association and Civic Economics.
Below are five recommendations to help guide startups down the path of business growth and success.
1. Build a detailed business plan. Planning is paramount when starting a business. Know your business in and out—what its goals are, and how you’ll go about achieving each one. These goals might be financial, creative, or anything in between. While many business owners are capable of forming a business plan on their own, it helps to have guidance along the way.
2. Secure a reliable lender. Starting a business is expensive. Do your homework to find a lender that has the best available rates and that you feel comfortable dealing with. If such lending is not available to you through a traditional bank, you may want to consider online business loan marketplaces, which have boomed in popularity in recent years.
3. Consider outsourcing certain business functions. There’s more to owning a small business than expertly executing your product or service. From payroll and tax obligations to other necessary business filings, small business owners face a mountain of responsibilities, all of which take valuable time away from concentrating on the growth and success of your business. Outsourcing certain business functions can often be a valuable decision. Opting to work with a reputable payroll provider as well as other business outsourcing services helps small businesses streamline processes and returns valuable time back to the business owner.
4. Establish an online presence. According to a National Small Business Association technology survey, 82 percent of small businesses have a traditional Web site and 85 percent of small businesses sell their products or services through that site. Taking on the development and maintenance of a website can be a daunting task that requires ongoing, and sometimes constant, management. For business owners who don’t have the time or expertise to manage this in-house, consider outsourcing. Third-party companies exist to ease the burden, allowing business owners to concentrate on everyday business operations rather than website coding.
5. Accept payments electronically. Dwindling are the days of customers paying for merchandise with cash or personal check. For this reason, it’s important for businesses to have the ability to process credit card and check payments all electronically. Thanks to new technologies, business owners can now run payments through mobile devices and simply email receipts directly to their customers. Not only does this allow you to better serve your customers, it allows you to get paid faster and easier by offering your customers multiple ways to get paid electronically online or via email. For those businesses accepting credit cards in person, the new terminals that allow customers to pay with their iPhone using Apple Pay or the new “chip-based” smart cards increase the ease of accepting new methods of payment while increasing the security of those transactions.