Most new business owners learn by trial-and-error. But there are a few areas where you can’t afford to make mistakes, even early on. Maintaining an active network, branding, and managing your online reputation are just some essential business practices.
Network all the time.
Networking is the process of building a group of individuals or businesses that you can turn to when you need help or wish to invest in products or services. Your network should consist of people within your own industry and others with whom you can have a reciprocal and beneficial relationship.
Create your business structure.
Your business structure is what makes you a legal entity. Many entrepreneurs remain a sole proprietorship, but this might not be the best structure for your business, particularly if you want a flexible management structure. Using a formation service that offers professional guidance and support, you can establish an LLC with relative ease. It is a quick and inexpensive process that will have a lasting impact on your organization.
In addition to your legal structure, you will want to get started on an organizational chart, which can grow and change as your business expands. An org chart is helpful for many reasons, including knowing your internal hierarchy and having employee contact information in one place.
Brand early, and stay consistent.
When you think about big brands, things like Coca-Cola, Amazon, and Ikea may come to mind. These companies established their brands early and have remained consistent since their inception. When you see any of these company’s logos, you automatically know what they are without question. Make sure to do the same for your business. While it can cost $100 an hour or more to hire an experienced graphic designer (Business 2 Community estimates that a new designer may charge as little as $25 per hour), the cost of losing business to bad branding is much higher. A recognizable brand generates customers, increases your business has value, and, perhaps more importantly, creates trust within the marketplace.
Understand your reputation.
Your brand is part of your reputation, but so too is the way you operate. If you have unhappy customers, they will quickly take to the internet to let everyone know about their bad experiences. Because of this, it’s always in your best interest to stay on top of your online reputation. The Semrush Blog explains that your digital persona impacts customer buying decisions. Visit social media often to perform an audit of your online reputation. There are also plenty of services that will allow you to gauge social sentiment, which gives you a chance to react to unexpected negative reviews or feedback found online.
Keep meticulous records.
Maintaining customer records is not just an activity reserved for big box stores. Even small businesses will benefit from being able to quickly access previous orders and contact information. Record keeping can also help you improve customer service and track unexpected and hidden expenses. However, it is not enough to simply keep records, you also have to make sure they’re safe. This means you’ll need to encrypt user data, establish privacy policies, and test your networks for vulnerabilities.
There are many business practices that will help you achieve the success you deserve and desire. The above are just a few, but they are often overlooked. By prioritizing things like understanding your reputation, establishing a business structure, maintaining records, and networking, you put yourself and a great position to grow and thrive when the time is right.