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Tips for running a small business

Published on Business stage: Scaling, Starting

Since 2017, June 27th has been designated the UNMicro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day. Its a bit of a mouthful, but it serves a good purpose. The aim of the day is to raise public awareness about the contribution of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) to the global economy and to sustainable development thereby helping to boost support for them in the process. 

Of course, no small business owner would turn their nose up at increased public support or sales for their venture, but for many there are much more immediate priorities to do with simply running and managing their business. 

Understand the market 

One area MSMEs can fall foul of is not researching what their customers and the wider market want and need. There can be all sorts of reasons for this  like thinking that market research doesnt apply to smaller businesses or not having the resources to carry it out  but it is arguably the most important activity for ensuring robust, sustainable, long-term success. 

There can be a perception that market research has to involve sophisticated surveying of carefully targeted demographics. Thats simply not the case. For MSMEs its simply of case of speaking to potential customers on the street, in local or trade online groups, via paid social activity or any other way you can reach your specific target audience. 

In addition, carrying out research into competitors or alternatives need not be complicated. Finding all of the potential competition might be tricky, but the aim is to understand what youre up against and how you compare, so its simply a case of the more you can find the better. 

Make yourself heard 

Marketing and PR are two other areas that MSMEs can neglect. Not all MSMEs may need to undertake marketing and PR activity, while some activities may be more suited to them than others, but simply understanding that communications is not just the preserve of larger businesses can ultimately lead to increased sales. 

Often, for MSMEs with little or no communications budget, the difficulty can be knowing where to start. Should you be using social media? Advertising on local billboards? Or trying to drum up press coverage? It, of course, depends on the business  but, for all businesses, comms activity should be informed by their customers and potential customers. Where do they live? What do they read? What events to they attend? What websites do they visit? By understanding all of this, you can begin to get a picture of where and how you should be carrying out marketing and PR activity. 

Find out what works 

Whether its to do with communications, your product / service or another aspect of your business, dont be afraid to experiment. Its right to follow a logical process when trying to work out what decisions to make, but this can mean that some less obvious things are missed altogether. Also trying out ideas that require relatively little input but that can have a big output is one way to find shortcuts to business growth. 

Taking PR as an example, you might think that youd like to try and get coverage in a magazine or on a website that has a similar audience to your business so that you can reach new people. Assuming the outlet takes submissions and accepts your pitch (a brief overview of what you want to write about), you can write an article for it and see if it generates any interest or website traffic for you. If it performs well, you can keep it as a weapon in your comms arsenal. If not, you can move on and try something else. 

Let people help you 

When people are trying to establish and grow businesses, its quite understandable that they spend a great deal of time with their heads in the nitty gritty trying to get things done. Not only is it important to step back and get a look at the big picture every so often, though, businesses should also bear in mind that there is usually plenty of help available. 

From the simplest forms of help like advice from peers and guidance from mentors right through to supportfunding and investment programmes, help for running and growing an MSME comes in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. For MSMEs in the Liverpool City region, the Local Growth Hub team can help you identify what help you might need and put you in touch with the people who can provide it. You just need to get in touch and tell us a bit about your business. Many of the support and funding programmes available are fully funded, so theres no cost involved at all. 

Take time for yourself 

Last but certainly not least is the need to ensure a work-life balance. Ita bit of a cliché and it can be easier said than done, but its important. As weve said, when youre trying to build a business, it can be easy to pour all your waking hours into it. Naturally, building a business does require a lot of hard work, but giving yourself time off allows you to see the bigger picture and this helps to avoid burnout. The balance required is different for everyone, but dont neglect it because the more rested you are and the better mindset you have, the better youll be able to run and grow your business. 

Speak to us

If you’re not sure what sort of help you need, get in touch and we’ll help you work things out.

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