Marketing & Growth

How to Make Your Small Business a Winner All Year Long

By Rieva Lesonsky

National Small Business Week (May 4-8) is a time to celebrate successful entrepreneurs and honor the SBA’s “Small Business Person of the Year” from each state and U.S. territory, as well as the national winner. But you don’t have to be nominated to make your small business a winner year round—just follow these tips.

  • Always keep learning. The SBA and its partner organizations provide all types of education for small business owners, from online webinars and courses to real-world seminars. Seek out these educational experiences in your community, industry and specialty to keep your knowledge up-to-date and your business on the cutting edge.
  • Work your network. Small business ownership can get lonely, so make time to get together with other businesspeople to share experiences, explore opportunities and make connections. Social media has opened up a world of possibilities to connect with other entrepreneurs globally, but be sure you also meet up in real life (when possible)—there’s no substitute for connecting face to face.
  • Never give up. Review the stories of the SBA’s 2015 Small Business Person of the Year winners, and you’ll find a common thread: perseverance. Successful small business owners don’t let obstacles stand in their way. If you have to remake your business model, change your target market or reassess your business mission, do it! Do whatever it takes to succeed and push through the tough times.
  • Be passionate. Whether they sell fresh-baked bread, solar energy solutions, quilts or manufacturing services, this year’s Small Business Person of the Year winners are passionate about what they do. You need passion to sustain you during the tough times of growing your business—and you need to instill that passion in your team, as well. Create and share a mission statement that’s meaningful and inspires your employees to deliver the business you envisioned when you launched.
  • Mind your money. Successful small business owners don’t expect to succeed on passion and perseverance alone. They know that lack of capital is a major cause of small business failure, so they keep an eye on their cash flow at all times so they can plan ahead to have financing on hand when they need it. Even if you’re not accounting-minded, you must learn enough to understand financial basics and plan for future needs. Fortunately, today’s accounting software makes it easier than ever to create forecasts, view your financial data at a glance and create dashboards to give you an overview of money in, money out and money needs.
  • Get help. No one knows it all, especially when it comes to launching and growing a business. Successful small business owners aren’t afraid to admit when they need help, and they turn to experts who have the knowhow they lack. Put good professional advisors—a lawyer, an accountant—on your team, and consult them. Find and use a mentor who can serve as a sounding board. Or, set up an advisory board (formal or informal) of more experienced businesspeople to guide your way.

By practicing these principles that 2015’s Small Business Person of the Year winners have followed, you’ll enjoy a winning business all year long.

 

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