Just keep swimming: Fourteen success tips for small business owners

Johannesburg, 20 May 2024
Invest in your website.
Invest in your website.

Being a small business owner is tough. Even if your idea is as good as gold, success is never a given. However, there are some things you can do to help set your small business on a favourable path. Read on for 14 tips for small business success.

Tip 1: Be highly organised

It is difficult to feel productive and accomplished in a state of chaos and disorder. Structures and processes help us prioritise and plan. Stay on top of admin by implementing a practical filing system, set and keep deadlines by making use of project management tools like Trello, Asana, ClickUp, etc. Show up for work every day and look and act the part.

Tip 2: Set goals

You need to have goals in place to drive focus, motivation, accountability and strategic growth. Establish clear, measurable goals for your business and develop actionable plans to achieve them. Regularly review progress and make adjustments as needed.

Tip 3: Be flexible

Learn to live in the grey area. Start being okay with a plans B and C, and definitely don't carve out rigid goals for your business. Adaptability is key in today's fast-paced business environment. Be open to change and ready to pivot strategies when necessary. Conduct market assessments regularly and embrace new technologies so your business isn't left behind.

Tip 4: Automate tasks

Many small business owners would surely agree that there never seems to be enough hours in the day. Luckily, with the help of automation software and AI tools, you can certainly speed up some tasks. Explore software solutions such as CRM systems to automate repetitive tasks like invoicing and customer follow-ups. Or try using generative AI to help create creative copy or ideas quicker.

Tip 5: Take your customer service to the next level

Focus on building strong relationships with customers by providing personalised experiences and addressing their individual needs. You can make use of CRM systems to track customer interactions and preferences, train staff to deliver tailored experiences and collect feedback to enhance service quality.

Tip 6: Invest in your website

Your website isn't a once-off project. You have to invest in it on an ongoing basis because it is often the first point of contact for potential customers. Invest in a professional and user-friendly design that reflects your brand and offers a seamless browsing experience. Optimise your website for mobile devices, incorporate SEO strategies for improved visibility and regularly update content to keep it engaging. It is fundamental that your website loads fast and is secure. Make sure you have great web hosting to support your website goals.

Keep overheads low for as long as possible.
Keep overheads low for as long as possible.

Tip 7 : Outsource non-core tasks

You can't do everything by yourself. Identify non-core activities like accounting or marketing and choose reliable outsourcing partners for these tasks. This allows you to focus on core business activities while benefiting from specialised skills.

Tip 8: Keep overheads low

It is essential to keep overheads low for as long as possible. Continue running the business from the garage, if need be, negotiate with suppliers for better pricing, explore cost-effective solutions and monitor expenses regularly to identify areas for cost-saving measures.

Tip 9: Keep your finger on the pulse

And just like that, things change. But if you kept your finger on the pulse, you would have seen it and adapted accordingly. It is therefore important to stay informed about industry trends, market developments and consumer preferences. Attend industry conferences, monitor competitor activities and encourage employees to share insights to stay ahead of the curve.

Tip 10: Don't just grow the team, be strategic about it

When the time comes to get more hands on deck, don't just employ anyone with the right skills. Instead, dig deeper to find someone that is a strategic fit for the business. Conduct thorough recruitment processes, offer ongoing training and development opportunities and create a positive work environment for your team.

Tip 11: Market your business consistently

Consistent marketing efforts are crucial for brand visibility and customer acquisition. Make use of a mix of online and offline channels to reach your target audience. Develop a comprehensive marketing plan and monitor performance metrics to optimise your marketing efforts.

Tip 12: Innovate your offering

Innovation is key to staying competitive. Continuously assess and improve your offerings to meet evolving customer needs and expectations. Conduct market research, gather customer feedback, and launch new products/services strategically to meet evolving customer needs.

Tip 13: Stay your biggest fan

If you don't believe in what you sell, no one else will. Passion fuels motivation and resilience. It is therefore essential to stay connected to your mission and values, and let your enthusiasm inspire others. Keep the flame burning by networking with industry peers, celebrating successes and pursuing personal development opportunities.

Tip 14: Make time for downtime

What keeps small business owners going? The stress and pressure of being a small business owner, that's what. But as difficult as it is to do, you need to take breaks, prioritise a work-life balance and recharge. Delegate responsibilities and take time to do less. It's great for productivity and your overall well-being.

Remember: Success doesn't happen overnight. And once your business is successful, its ongoing affluence isn't guaranteed. You have to prioritise the above 14 tips and other tips you'll learn along the way, every single day. Just keep swimming, as they say. And you'll get there in the end.


Editorial contacts

Chantél Venter
Marketing Department (Domains)
(+27) 11 640 9700