It’s a scary statistic, but for every small business that opens in the U.S. each year another one closes. The long-term survival of small businesses is also a worrying stat – only half of all new establishments survive the first five years or more (Source: SBA.gov)
There’s no doubt that starting a business is an overwhelming task with lots to do – writing a business plan, securing financing, bringing in new clients, hiring employees.
But what about the everyday tasks of actually running a business? In the long run, these can shape up to be just as critical as those start-up tasks to ensure business success.
Plan on setting aside 10-15 minutes for each of following daily tasks, and avoid becoming just another small business failure statistic.
1. Wrap Your Arms Around Your Financial Dashboards
This is something we preach here at Fundbox regularly. Cash flow is the number one reason businesses fail. Of course, many reasons can contribute to cash flow issues. But staying on top of your finances – tracking expenses, managing receivables, monitoring actual spend against budget plans, cash flow forecasting, and so on – can help you spot and act on cash flow issues before they become a problem.
Tip: At a minimum do the following every day:
Check your business bank and credit card accounts everyday (use mobile alerts to get notifications on when certain thresholds such as balance levels or transaction amounts).
If you need a financial safety-net to help you mitigate cash flow issues, consider getting a line of credit or check out Fundbox’s simple way to fix cash flow by advancing payments for outstanding invoices.
2. Be a “Noisy Falling Tree.”
Sure, you need to wine and dine your clients once in a while, but don’t ignore the fundamentals of a good relationship – responsiveness.
This means answering email and voicemail promptly.
Tip: Instead of keeping your Inbox open all day, set aside 10 minutes each morning, after lunch, and before the close of business to catch up with client-related emails. Even if it’s an “I’ll get back to you with more information later…” type of response.
Work on being a “noisy falling tree” – every day.
3. Tackle Planning in Manageable Chunks
This is one practice that’s so easy to put off until your mind set is right. But planning (and we don’t mean sitting down to write an encyclopedic document) is something you need to do every day.
Why? Well, obviously planning ensures success. It helps you proactively guide your business where it needs to go. But it also helps you plan for the unexpected. For example, what would happen if you lost a client tomorrow, or a client cuts back on a statement of work by 50% (it happens)? Are you prepared? How can you mitigate the risk of this happening? How would you cope financially and operationally? How will you pay your bills on time and maintain cash flow?
Planning can help you build a picture of what needs to happen to help you get where you want to go while avoiding the pitfalls along the way.
Tip: Use mini-plans to help keep your business moving in the right direction – one for marketing, one for employees, one for operations, one for networking, and so on. Tackle planning in manageable chunks each day.
4. Build That Pipeline
Sitting on your laurels is not something a small business owner can afford to do any day of the week. As mentioned above, there is no status quo in business. Clients scale back or drop off completely, cash flow can quickly dry up, and before you know it you’re ready to hit the panic button.
That’s why it’s so important to look for ways to build your business every day.
Tip: Use your mini business plans to guide your efforts. Networking should certainly be a part of this. Carve out 10 minutes or so each day to look for networking events (attend one a month if you can). Use social media to build connections and share knowledge and information.
Drive deeper relationships with clients – look at current projects. Take the time to check in and see how things are going. If you’ve just wrapped up a project, see if there are new opportunities or potential case study material that you can draw on.
What do you do to productively “run” your business each day?