How To Run A Successful Small Business In 5 Easy Steps

Running your own small business can be a stressful thing but can also be extremely rewarding. I've run my own shop in the past with an e-commerce website as well as running my own full-time freelance writing business. Over the years I have learnt many things about running a business and how to stay ahead of the competition. Here are some guidelines and advice from someone who has run a successful small business. 

1. Finances

There is a lot of business advice out there so be sure to take it.  A business plan can help you see what you need to do and how you are going to do it.

A basic spreadsheet with outgoings and incomings can help you budget and see where your money is being spent, this can also be used to file your tax return.  Don't forget you have to do this. Check out the UK Government's advice on how to start a small business for more advice. There are certain rules but generally. if you earn more than a £1000 in a tax year you need to register as self-employed, but always check with the Tax Office for the most up-to-date information. 

When you set up a business you will need initial capital investment and then a buffer zone of finances. Don't underestimate how much it can take to set up a business and build contingency money of at least 20% extra.

On a day-to-day basis, it's also important to keep an eye on cash flow. When I had a shop we bought a lot of stock in November for the Christmas period, so we spent a lot that month and didn't reap the rewards until the middle of December. 

2. Legalities

You must ensure you operate legally at all times and you will need to register your business as a limited company, sole trader or partnership.

You may need a licence and permits to play music, sell food or trade in the street. There are rules to follow if you sell goods online, buy or sell goods abroad, and store or use personal information for example.

If you have bricks and mortar shop or business as opposed to running it from your home then legally things will be different too. It's important to have the correct insurance such as liability insurance as well to protect you from claims made against you if a member of the public sues your business.

3. Employees

If you employ staff then there are certain rules, regulations and legalities you need to take. so it's important to be up-to-date on what you need to do. I recommend checking out this useful guide on employing staff for the first time

After you have employed the right staff, it's important to train them properly. Have a written guide to rules and regulations, health and safety, and the general ethos of the company, then go through it with them. Encourage them to ask questions and work with you to see how the business operates before you let them work alone. Implement a staff training matrix, especially for new staff who might not have experience in your industry. This will ensure they're all on the same page, and able to cover each other; this is critical in a small business.

Motivating your staff is important too. Incentives and bonuses for good work or achievable targets can be useful and of course, praise is a powerful motivator. If your business expands and you have a team of employees it can be harder to make everyone get on task.   Check out this guide on how to motivate employees with Thirsty Horses for more information.

4. Marketing

When you have a small business you often have to do your own marketing and PR. See if you can get to grips with some simple marketing yourself. Consider putting adverts in local or national magazines and newspapers, especially around specific times of the year. Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Christmas were busy times when I had a shop so we planned our adverts for the month before these busy times. You will also want to learn about SEO and how Google affects your online visibility. For example, if you work in healthcare and have your own private practice you may want to enroll in an online course for learning SEO for doctors to see how you can enhance your company's visibility and digital marketing skills. As the higher you rank in Google's search engine, the easier it is for new patients to find you and your website.

It's worth getting to grips with social media, and you should also consider a website if you haven't already. A strong online presence is essential in today's day and age in order to grow your business. You don't have to be an expert to get started; you can click this link here for a step-by-step video guide on how to build your website in a short amount of time. In addition, set up social media accounts for your business and offer incentives for loyal customers. If you find it hard to get to grips with social media, some services can help you set it up and show you how to manage it yourself. Send out regular social media updates on the latest offers, new stock, and competitions. A personal but professional touch works well for a small business on social media.

5. Outsourcing 

Be self-aware and know your strengths and weaknesses. If there are certain areas of business that you are not good at you can always outsource these skills.  

Haven't got time to set up a Facebook page? Outsource it. Not sure what IT infrastructure you need in place so that you can do your work each day? Talk to someone like this company offering expert IT consulting services. If you find tax complicated then employ an accountant. A good accountant can actually save you money so it's worth considering. You don't have to do everything yourself, so be sure you know your limitations and budget for help in your business plan. Running a small business is hard work, so try to outsource what you can if you don't have the expertise - you will be so glad you did.

So this is how to run a successful small business in 5 easy steps. Have you ever had your own business? Do you have any tips?

For more information and advice check out the National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses. 

*Collaborative post


  1. Some good tips here. In the U.K. my bible is a money saving website. The simple things are the most effective

  2. I run my own business from home and it can be tricky to stay on top of all the bills on some months.

  3. Great advice, there is so much that comes with running your own business and you have to learn fast!

  4. They're all great advice some of which my hubby uses as a self-employed IT consultant. He outsources his finances and taxes to an accountant which became even more important when we moved to Portugal to ensure he had someone fluent in both the taxation system AND the language x

  5. some great tips here, I am sure it will be super useful to people starting out with their own business x

  6. These are some great tips and yes to being on top of Finances and legalities but also marketing is so so important these days

    Laura x

  7. These tips are perfect for small business owners. I really need to think about outsourcing more tasks so I can focus on growing my business more