7 Tips for Running a Small Business in 2023

A woman is sitting at a table by the window in a cafe, typing on a laptop.

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Owning a successful small business often depends on how potential customers perceive you.

key point

  • In everything you do, pay close attention to how it will affect customer service.
  • Flexibility allows you to make improvements anytime, anywhere.
  • As a business owner, you don’t have to know everything. Use the guide.

There is nothing more exciting than starting your own business. It is you who decide the direction of the business. Then you write the script and execute the plan. However, no one can be expected to know everything when starting out. These seven tips are designed to help you move forward with confidence.

1. Get organized

Most business owners are busy, busy, busy. All this busyness can easily lead to confusion. Inventory receipt here, supplier letter there. This could all become too much. When you can’t find the documents you need or walk into the office and don’t know where to start, the stress of chaos hits.

Set aside a day to come up with an organizational system and file things where you know they can be found. Then, take some time each day to make sure everything is where it needs to be.

When you do this, teach at least one or two other people where everything goes. That way, others can find the information they need to keep your business running even when you’re not there.

Here’s the thing about organization: it has the potential to keep your customers happy. Let’s say you own a small clothing store, and a regular customer comes to you and asks if you can order a specific item in her sister’s size. Being organized means not having to dig through your records to find out which vendor sells that particular item. Because you keep all this information in one place, you can easily find what you need.

You can reduce stress while still providing great customer service. Plus, it makes bookkeeping easier.

2. Be flexible

Even if you’ve been in business for years, the flexibility allows you to adapt when changes are required.

Let’s say you own an online store that sells handmade cloth diapers with unique designs. A big box retailer comes in and lowers your prices. Flexibility enables you to:

  • decide whether to lower prices to compete, or
  • personalize your services in a way that sets you apart from the competition

3. Keep learning

No one is born omniscient, although that grumpy uncle at the family gathering might disagree. Then again, as long as you’ve probably been doing business for yourself, as long as you’re willing to listen, there’s always something to learn.

Network with other business owners to stay on top of new trends. Pair with a small business management mentor. Accept feedback from frontline workers. In other words, learn as you go. Not only does it keep you sharp, it keeps your business fresh.

4. Keep it Personal

Customer service is key in everything you do. Complaints and concerns should never be ignored (this is especially important to teach employees). If a customer has a complaint, please deal with it patiently immediately. If possible, keep working until you find a satisfactory solution.

We all know some people just can’t get enough. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. At the end of the day, people will know when you care and when you’re trying to make things right.

5. Keep up with your competition

Take a look at successful competitors and find out how they are attracting customers. And keep an eye out for news of the things they do that drive customers away. Look, it’s not cheating. It’s figuring out how to position itself higher in the pecking order. Here are some things to check:

  • Are you competing for the same customers? If so, what can you do to make your business more attractive to these customers? For example, will offering a quarterly discount to your most loyal customers get them to patronize (virtually or otherwise)?
  • What is your competitor’s online presence? Are they posting on all types of social media? Is their website damn close to perfect? Compare this to your online presence. Is there anything you can improve to keep pace with Jones?
  • Imagine yourself not as a business owner, but as a customer. Is there something about your competitor’s business that appeals to you? If so, you know it’s time to adjust your business.

6. Build a team you can be proud of

When it comes time to hire, the people around you are critical to your success. Take the time to understand what the applicant has to offer and do a gut check to determine how easy it is to work with this person. There’s no doubt that hiring is harder today than it used to be, but that doesn’t mean you need to accept just about any candidate.

Before offering someone a job, ask yourself how happy you would be to have that person represent you or your business.

7. Put the money away

Recessions are a normal part of the business cycle, and it is not a matter of whether the US will fall into one again, but a matter of when. The best way to prepare this year (or any other) is to put money in a rainy day fund. Whether you deposit it into your business account or some other liquid account, these funds can tide you over during the down months and ensure you stay open when business booms again.

There is a unique difference between working for others and working for yourself. Everything is up to you, including how you move forward in 2023.

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