Owners of small and medium-sized businesses often have to wear many hats – accountant, salesperson, HR manager, and marketer are just a few examples. Depending on the commercial or industrial sector, he or she may also be a mechanic, secretary, cleaner, and security.

Whatever hats a business owner is required to wear there are ways of ensuring the business is run as efficiently as possible. These are the five best practices that will make the start-up and successful running of a small business possible.

Start with a written business plan

A structured, well-presented business plan is a must. It should have set parameters, but also should have a degree of flexibility built in should the need for flexibility and adaption occur. There should be a section for your vision, what you want to achieve and in which timeframe you want to achieve that vision.

Cite potential factors that may affect the plan over a five year period. Have set budgets and target keeping within those budgets year on year. Have set goals for each year; goals which need to be achieved before you can move to the next year’s plan. Refer to the plan often; it is easy to stray from the path.

Choose the right business finance

Become adept in sourcing tailored business funding. It is easy to go to a bank and ask for an overdraft. However, overdraft charges can be expensive and eat into your profit margins. It is far more efficient to seek out funding for capital projects from specialist brokers or lenders. Become is one such facilitator which is making inroads into mainstream lending by way of algorithmic tech, much to the delight of their growing list of satisfied clients.

Companies such as Become.co are able to put business owners in touch with lenders with whom it may not have been possible to locate without their technical assistance. By optimizing existing and future funding requirements and options from non-mainstream funding sources, you will be able to unlock business opportunities that might have passed you by. Additionally, it is proven that there is a 20% increased chance of sourcing funding compared with mainstream lenders.

Invest in technology

Managing accounts, paying staff, and suppliers yet maintaining a healthy bank balance is a fine balancing act. If your business supplies customers with products, you’ll need a good inventory system in place. Integrated software which simplifies stock control is a must, as too is software that integrates time tracking and payroll. You can save hours with time tracking and payroll software over manual systems, time which can be spent on the more critical applications. Many companies are also investing in employee monitoring software for better data collection and efficiency.

Market your brand

If you don’t market your business brand, how will potential customers know you are there? A sound marketing plan should be part of your initial business plan. It is easy to overlook marketing. A website is an essential shop window for your services and products. If you market your business through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms, you may need the help of a digital marketing agency if you do not have the necessary skills or knowledge. Without digital marketing, your business will struggle to be seen. Set aside a budget for this if necessary.

Liability insurance and risk management

As a business owner, you will be dealing with suppliers, staff, customers and other stakeholders on a day to day basis. Risk should be managed and contained as much as possible. Your business will need to have liability insurance coverage in case the worst happens. If a visitor to your business premises is injured, even through no fault of yours, you may be liable to a lawsuit for damages and compensation. If this happens, it could ruin your business if you do not have adequate coverage.

However many hats you may have to wear, planning and proactive practice should be at the core of your business. Good planning with set goals are the foundation on which to build a successful business.

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