Running a small business is tough. Whether you make money from a blog, run an ecommerce store, have an offline business like a café or shop or run an office-based business, there’s a lot to think about. In the beginning, money is often an issue. Many small businesses fail within the first two years, often because profits are slow to come and many of these businesses struggle to make any at all.
If you’ve got loads of money to throw at your business, then that’s fine. If you can afford to take your time and build up slowly, great. Don’t worry about it. For most of us, however, this isn’t the case. We need to earn a living, and if you’ve given up a job to run a business, even with investments and backing, you’ll need to make money from the get-go.
Outsourcing work is a tricky thing. On the one hand, outsourcing can be a great idea. You can’t necessarily afford to hire staff, and you certainly won’t have in-house HR, marketing or finance teams backing you up. So, outsourcing work to freelancers and contractors gives you a chance to get a professional job done, while only paying someone for the time that you need them. It also gives you a way to easily cut costs if you are spending too much, without having to let anyone go. But, on the other hand, hiring is always expensive. Sure, they might do a good job, but can you really afford it?
In many cases when you are starting out, you’ll become a bit of a Jack of all trades. To avoid spending more than you need to, you might decide to do as much as you can yourself. You might instead invest in an NEC online or other courses that help to develop your own skills. Skills that won’t just be useful today but will help you for many years to come.
Taking on a lot of the work yourself instead of outsourcing it to other firms or contractors does mean putting a lot more on your shoulders. But, it also means saving a small fortune, developing your own skills and learning how to do things that will always be useful. Here are some of the things that you could stop outsourcing and start tackling yourself.
Marketing is an area of the business world that’s undergone a massive change in the last few years. There’s much less emphasis on television adverts and other offline marketing techniques. They are certainly still useful and worth exploring if you’ve got the knowledge and budget. But, you can get a long way on the internet with a minimal budget.
Work with social media advertising, building pages and profiles and attracting a broad audience that is willing to share your work and adverts. Spend time finding bloggers and other influencers who are willing to review or advertise your products or services and consider doing more online.
Hiring an accountant is something that many small businesses do without thinking. Surely, money and accounts are too important not to? But, while your business is small, and making and spending relatively small amounts of money, you can absolutely do it yourself.
Take the time to set up business bank accounts and easy to use spreadsheets to help you manage your income and expenses. Set up templates for invoicing and receipts and then use them. At the end of every day or week, take an hour or so to look after your money. File your invoices and receipts, fill in your spreadsheets and give your accounts a little TLC. As long as you keep everything in order and in separate accounts filing your tax return and declaring your income is relatively simple, and you can always hire an accountant later on if you get stuck.
As your business starts to earn more, it’s a good idea to either hire someone to help or take a course to keep your own knowledge up to date.
Social Media Management
Social media is a much more significant part of business than it was just a few years ago and many smaller companies are reliant on it for traffic, both to their websites and brick and mortar premises if they have one. Social media gives you an easy, cheap and effective way to reach your audience. To pass on information, to communicate, to build relationships and to advertise your products and services. But, it can take up a lot of your time. It can start to feel like you have to be online constantly in order to do well and it’s certainly tempting to outsource to a VA or a social media manager.
But, it’s not necessary. Use schedulers and automation tools instead and take your time. Don’t let social media take over your life. But, give it a little attention every day until you can afford help.
Branding is crucial, and you need to get it right. So, don’t take it on yourself unless you have the skills to come up with something great. Spend some time playing with some designs and color schemes before deciding if you need help or not.
Of course, if you aren’t particularly good at some of these things, or you just can’t get your head around what needs to be done, you should still hire help. It could cost you money to do it badly. But, consider hiring a local student on work experience, or a part-time freelancer with low rates, instead of an expensive professional company.
It’s also always worth remembering that in these situations, you either pay with your time or your money. If you have got an accounting degree or some skills with marketing, then you might be able to do a good job in a reasonable amount of time. If you are completely lost, it could take you much longer. Much more time that you could have been using to make money and develop your business in other ways. Ask yourself if it’s worth paying with your time, or would you be better off paying with your money?