Four Primary Enterprise Instruments Entrepreneurs Must Succeed
Now that the new year has come, many eager new entrepreneurs are ready to get started with their startups and hopefully experience a year that is less challenging than the previous one. When starting a new business, it’s important to consider what business tools and core elements small businesses need to thrive in today’s “new normal”.
I help entrepreneurs set up and set up limited liability companies, so I generally tend to share advice on legal must-haves for small businesses like business formation, trademarks, and tax statements. This time, however, I won’t do that.
Let’s say you’ve already received these items. What other tools are required for your small business to actively grow and be successful the next normal?
Get started with these business tools and key business basics
1. Business website
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, websites are one of the most important tools for startups. A website gives your business the visibility it needs so that customers can find you online and learn more about your business during the pandemic. A small business website is also a great way to communicate with your customers. If a customer cannot reach you through your social media platforms, they can connect by visiting the website via a phone call, sending an email, or filling out a contact form.
There are a few options for creating a small business website. Some business owners do this themselves using a website building software service. Many of these services have different website templates to choose from, depending on the type of business. They also have stock photography options and offer customer support in case you get stuck. If you are not comfortable, contact a professional website developer.
2. Strong domain name
A domain name goes hand in hand with a small business website. This is the name of your company URL. At the federal level, more than 370 million domain names have been registered.
Your domain name should be as close or as specific as possible to your company name, especially with so many registrations already saved. Many small businesses try to strive for an exact match, especially those with an internet-based business model and a domain name that is memorable, short, and easy to spell and pronounce.
This is also a great opportunity to create keyword rich domain names. Consider keywords that are specific to your business and geographic location. For example, if you’re a pizzeria based in Portland, Oregon, you could use “Pizza” and “Portland” to better optimize your domain name for SEO purposes.
Other items from AllBusiness.com:
What about the domain extension? Most companies try to use a dot-com (.com) extension whenever possible. However, this extension is not always available. It might not be a preferred extension depending on your industry. If a dotcom option isn’t available, try dot-us (.us) or dot-co (.co) instead. Then do a name search for your domain name to make sure it’s available for use. If it’s free, submit a domain name application to register the name.
3. Employee collaboration software
At the beginning of this year, many of us are still working remotely and not sure when we might be able to return to a traditional office. Fortunately, for most of the year, working from home has allowed most to transition into that workflow and learn how to use collaboration software and business tools that enable the best productivity possible.
Prepare your team to work with the right collaboration software. Some options can include project management software like Trello and Asana. Manage documents and share files across teams using Google Drive, Microsoft Teams and Dropbox. Take notes and share them with Evernote.
Note that while some collaboration tools are free to use, others may require you to sign up for premium plans depending on the size of your team. Invest in the right tools for your team members to work together to ensure the best possible WFH readiness and security.
4. Flexible business plan
One of the greatest tools that entrepreneurs need to be successful at every stage of their business is a business plan. This document can be difficult to compile in the Covid-19 era. Often times, business plans evaluate a company three to five years from now and require additional details such as revenue forecasts and projected profits and losses that may not be fully fleshed out within a startup.
How do you create a business plan in an uncertain time? Consider creating a business plan that acts as a hybrid between a traditional business plan and a lean startup plan. This type of business plan gives you enough space to evaluate the following areas of your startup:
- Business description and value. You should be able to articulate what your company is doing, its industry, and how it makes money. Then share the value this company can bring to their market. What problems can these offers and services solve for customers?
- Strategy. This section should provide more insight into the business and what it offers. How do these offers and services work? If you are still in the development phase, when is the company ready to go? Strategic goals to be achieved with the business plans should be set along with the planned timelines. If the company has partnerships or additional resources to help it achieve these goals, outline these details as well.
- Customers. This section delves into the company’s target market. Who is your customer base? What are these customer demographics like? How can your company conquer this market, get in touch with it and keep it? How does the company plan to meet new demographics over time?
- Company overview. In this section you will learn more about leadership in the company. Include the biographies of each member and their responsibilities in the startup. They can also share additional information about the company, including where it is located and when the company was formed.
- Financial plans. One of the most important parts of a business plan is its financial projections. Business plans are generally created to attract investors interested in investing capital in the company. In this section, you can share existing cash flow forecasts in the startup as well as the spending budget, sales forecast and break-even analysis.
As we gradually move into the next normal, you may find that your startup can step out of a flexible business plan and move to a more traditional format. If that happens, great! If not, stick to the flexible plan. Either way, keep in mind that all business plans can easily be revised and edited over time. You can edit your plan for the future, but keep the flexibility that gave it room to grow in an unprecedented time.
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