By Gloria Martinez
Running a business takes a ton of know-how, much of which must be learned on the fly. Few business owners go into their first (or second, or even third) company knowing everything there is to know about running a business. Indeed, the “jump first, build your wings on the way down” philosophy is almost core to the very nature of business ownership.
That said, it’s always nice to have some help getting those wings built — after all, the ground has a nasty habit of arriving rather quickly. Fortunately, the Mountain Times has created this guide to helping small business owners find their stride. Here are some smart moves you can make to make your business as strong as possible.
Give yourself the right foundation
When it comes to long-term business health, the decisions you make early on make a big difference. For example, many first-time business owners don’t put as much thought into their business structure as the matter deserves. As a result, they wind up changing their business to suit the structure, rather than the other way around.
For example, if you run a consultancy, you might initially decide against forming an LLC, especially if it’s just you early on. However, this might hold you back from taking larger — and, as a result, riskier — clients, fearful that a mistake might leave your personal assets at risk. Forming your Vermont LLC gives you the layer of legal protection you need in order to take big leaps and see just what you can achieve.
Pay attention to cash flow
When it comes to assessing business health, there are few signs more effective than your cash flow. Take a close look at how money is coming in and out of your business. Are you funded mostly by loans, or are you self-sufficient? Do you see an ROI on investments such as marketing plans or inventory upgrades? Are you turning a profit?
This type of analysis can be stressful, especially because it’s pretty rare for businesses to turn a profit in the first couple of years. However, keeping your eye on progress can help you get a sense of what is — and isn’t — working. Knowledge like this empowers you to make savvy changes to your business model, moving you closer to success.
Build a solid team
Unless you plan to run a solo-preneurship, you’re going to need to hire people at some point during your business’s lifespan. Your team can easily make or break your success, especially early on. When it comes to hiring your first employees, remember to think critically about what skills you need from an employee.
Start by making a list of all the skills necessary to make your business thrive. Then, honestly evaluate which of those skills you do and do not have. The skills you don’t have should be the major framework for what you’re looking for early on. Down the line, it will be a matter of hiring to suit production or management needs. Your first hires, however, will have a huge impact on the direction your business takes; give the process time and reverence, and you can find the people who push it in the best direction possible.
Take breaks and recharge
Finally, be sure to factor self-care into your schedule. Business owners tend to work more hours per week than their traditionally employed peers. If you don’t make time for rest, you’re far more likely to wind up burning out. Protect your energy levels by scheduling self-care — as in literally write it into your schedule. You can make a massage appointment, set aside time for a warm bath, dedicate part of your evening routine to reading a great book; anything that helps you unplug from work and take some time to yourself is perfect.
This kind of self-care won’t just help you avoid burnout; it will also give you the creative energy you need to tackle business issues with confidence. We hope this article inspires you to figure out the steps you can take to make your business the best it can be.