As a small business owner, there’s a lot to consider in the first few months and years. Whereas larger organizations have the ability to absorb costs and spend their way to success, smaller brands rarely have this luxury. If you want to be successful, you’ll have to learn how to operate within your means by strategically approaching major business responsibilities.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the major responsibilities entrepreneurs face in the formative days of their small businesses and highlight a few tips and resources you may find valuable in your pursuit of growth.
Small Business Owner Responsibilites
1. Branding and Marketing
When you’re just getting started, branding and marketing are hugely important. You have to get your name out there and in front of your target audience in order to gain traction. Specifically, you’ll want to consider things like:
- Logo design. While your company’s logo isn’t the most important responsibility you have, it is one of the first things that must be figured out. Thankfully, there are plenty of free online tools to help you get started.
- Website hosting and design. A small business can’t get very far in 2016 without a functional and appealing website. If you simply need to throw something together quickly, consider free WordPress hosting. You may later decide that paid hosting is the best route, but this is an easy solution that won’t demand a ton of your time on the front end.
- Promotional materials. From business cards to physical signage, your new business will need promotional materials to hand out and familiarize people with what your business does. Establishing a healthy relationship with a local printer or cost-effective online partner will go a long way towards helping you push your brand.
There are obviously other things to consider, but getting a logo, website, and promotional materials together are some of the more pressing responsibilities on your plate.
2. Business Communication
Whether it’s internal or external, business communication is one of the most important (yet often overlooked) challenges new businesses face in the first few months and years. Make sure you’re giving this aspect of your business the attention it needs. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Establish clear protocol. From the very start, your business needs clear rules on how information is communicated. Ideally, you’ll want to establish a chain of command so everyone knows who they’re supposed to reach out to in any situation. This prevents confusion and improves the speed at which information is conveyed.
- Eliminate reliance on email. Did you know that the average employee checks their email 36 times per hour? This results in thousands of dollars in lost productivity per employee each year. If there’s one thing most mature organizations struggle with, it’s wasted time at the hands of email. In addition to establishing clear email protocol, you may also want to rely less on traditional email and instead use a resource like Slack.
- Find a virtual meeting solution. There will be times where you’re out of the office or an out-of-town client needs to speak with your team. In these situations, virtual meetings are extremely valuable. Find a virtual meeting solution and get familiar with it. That way, you’re prepared for meetings, regardless of where people are located.
By figuring out some of these things early on, your business will have a much stronger foundation. It’ll also prevent some of the distractions and weaknesses that other mature organizations face.
3. Social Media Management
Social media is obviously an important tool for businesses of all sizes, but it’s especially valuable for small businesses who are otherwise limited by a small budget or confined to a very specific geographical market. Here are a few things to think about:
- Put some things on autopilot. There are tons of powerful social media tools that allow you to streamline mundane tasks by scheduling posts, tracking account activity, and organizing newsfeeds. Identify the tools that you believe will help you the most and put time-consuming responsibilities on autopilot.
- But manually handle other tasks. Don’t make the mistake of automating every social media task, though. Some are best handled manually. For example, you don’t want to automate responses to followers. You risk sounding generic and compromising your reputation.
- Jump into the future. While social networking staples like Facebook and Twitter are still important, small businesses should jump into the future and experiment with visual platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Periscope. The industry is clearly headed in this direction and you don’t want to get left behind.
Social media is something small businesses need to focus on in the early days. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach it. Make sure you’re maximizing your time and resources by aligning your business with the right tools.
4. Customer Service
While the first challenge for young businesses is to attract customers, the second challenge is to keep them coming back for more. Sadly, small businesses often forget about customer service until they notice that their retention rates are suffering. Here are a few things to think about:
- Develop a goal. Your customer service needs a strategy. Develop tangible goals and strive to maximize each and every exchange you have with your customers. Quick, efficient, and satisfactory are three good words to focus on.
- Open the lines. Good customer service is rooted in approachability. If you want to keep customers satisfied, you have to be open to communication. Simply offering a support email address isn’t enough. You should have other options, including a help hotline.
- Take a top-down approach. One of the biggest things that sets small businesses apart from larger organizations is the hands-on nature of customer service. As a business owner, you can make a huge difference by taking an active part in customer service yourself. It speaks volumes when the leaders get involved.
As much time as you spend working on things behind the scenes, you should be dedicating even more time to shaping your approach to customer service. Keep these three ideas in mind.
Putting it All Together
Similar to individuals, businesses go through different stages of life. And while it’s hard to ignore the importance of any life stage, the first few months and years are arguably the most significant. It’s during this time that you build a foundation that will shape the trajectory of your organization.
Carefully consider the responsibilities you face and make calculated moves that put your business in a position that’s conducive to long term stability.
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