Little details: Things even a student business can’t afford to ignore
There are a plenty of ways in which a small startup is completely different from a larger, more established business. After all, the bigger a business becomes, the more it has to worry about regarding legality, staffing, and market shares. One of the nice things about being a startup is that your concerns are usually much more grounded and simple. You’ll usually be most focused on actually being able to produce a high-quality product and getting that product out to your customers. These are the sorts of things that occupy the mind of the student business owner most of the time. The major problem with that is when those things start to become the only things that a small business owner considers to be important. There are plenty of things that small business owners neglect because they imagine them to be the sorts of things that only a huge corporation would ever actually have to worry about. But there are plenty of things that should be on the minds of every business, large and small alike. With that in mind, here are several things that every business should consider, no matter how small it is.
Health and safety
If your business is especially small, you may not have even considered health and safety as an important factor. Perhaps your business is run from your home, and you don’t have a dedicated office space. Or maybe the business is just made up of a few people. It’s easy to assume that, under these circumstances, that health and safety simply isn’t an issue. But that attitude is careless and even potentially dangerous. Every business should have health and safety measures in place, even home businesses and startups. If you don’t take health and safety seriously, then you set yourself up to be totally liable for anything that happens. Not only are you increasing the risk of an accident but you’re putting your company in some, potentially serious, financial danger. The problem is that correct health and safety procedures aren’t that easy to understand or put in place. It’s a good idea to speak to some health and safety consultants to help you figure out exactly what your business needs.
It’s easy to imagine that a small business doesn’t need the same attitude to marketing as a larger one. And to an extent, this is sort of true. After all, you certainly won’t need the kind of marketing budget that a huge company does and your marketing won’t need to reach quite as large an audience. But that doesn’t mean that you can get away with neglecting your marketing strategies. The mistake that a lot of startups make is that they assume that they can survive on purely grassroots, ground level marketing, relying almost exclusively on word of mouth. This simply isn’t a functional strategy. The best thing that you can do is to figure out exactly what marketing strategy is best for your business. Doing your research here is key. Not only should you be doing market research to figure out where to direct your marketing, but look at larger companies as well. What are their strategies? Are they successful? If so, why/why not? But ignoring the way that larger companies market themselves, you ignore some potentially fantastic examples of innovative and creative marketing.
One of the biggest and most unfortunate hurdles that a small business can face is simply underestimating just how much work really goes into it. You might have the perfect product; you might have done all the right research, and you might have a dedicated team putting in the work. And yet, things still aren’t growing and building in the way that you’d hoped. Why not? Well, chances are that this is because a lot of tasks are being done at a less than ideal level. A business always requires more work than you think it will and a small team will often find itself overwhelmed by it. It might not seem like the sort of thing that a startup needs to do, but outsourcing is a great way to lighten the load as well as increasing the quality of the work. As the owner of the business, you might be the brains of the operations, but that doesn’t mean each and every menial task should fall to you. By outsourcing certain responsibilities that might fall outside of your personal skill set, you bring up the levels of productivity in your business far beyond what it was previously capable of. Not only that but it leaves you to focus your energy on other, more relevant places.
An employee handbook
One of the things that make a small business so fantastic is the way that it can eliminate so much of the bureaucracy that can make working for a larger company so frustrating. Cutting through the red tape so that you can focus on creating the most positive business possible is a fantastic thing. But that doesn’t mean that you should ignore everything about running a big business. An employee handbook is a great way to make sure that everyone is on the same page. While you don’t want to be overly prescriptive, if you’ve got employees all doing different things and working in completely different ways, it’s going to cause some serious problems down the line. Even a short, simple employee handbook can set out a well-defined framework for exactly how they should be approaching tasks. It also allows you to instill a greater sense of your company’s values in your employees. Ironically, this small bureaucracy can help to put forward the most human element of your entire business.
The most important thing to remember is this. While your startup may be small, it is still a business. The most dangerous thing that many people do is not treating it that way. It might be small, and it might be fun, but it is a business and you should always make sure that you’re treating it as such.