What makes a business successful? Read on for our checklist of five key factors to be thinking about when you’re starting your own business.

1. Cash flow management

When you’re running your own business, cash flow management is key. For example, consider if clients are paying you promptly, or if late payments causing blockages in cash flow. Maybe you have loans that could be repaid now, thus saving interest. Or perhaps it’s better to wait until the finances are looking healthier. Ask yourself if there are certain lines that are not pulling in any profit, so affecting profit margins as a whole. Take a good look at your business cash flow, identify any pinch points – and act accordingly.

Make use of apps that can help you keep on top of your business finances and monitor cash flow. Countingup is one that automates financial admin and provides live cash flow insights.

2. Adaptability

Small businesses must be able to adjust quickly to meet new demands. A recent example of this was the global COVID pandemic, which saw many cafes and restaurants adapting quickly to provide takeaway food and drink, rather than on-site service.

To survive and thrive, small businesses need to be adaptable – ready to alter or abandon less successful product lines, or quickly upscale production of in-demand products or services in light of changing circumstances.

3. Strategic marketing

You may have the best product or service for miles around, but are you getting that message out there? Do people know to come to you, instead of your competitors? 

The first step is simply learning the best way(s) to reach your market. One way to start is to connect with other local businesses and learn what works for them. Use Google Analytics to learn how people are finding your website, and where they are coming from. And, of course, talk to your customers and discover how they are finding out about you. 

If you decide to invest in paid advertising, make sure you know how to measure its success. If you launch any special offers or deals, track their performance too. Find out which channels are best at finding you new customers and consider investing more in them.

4. Good customer service

Aside from the quality of your product, one way to stand out as a small business is in the standard of your communication with customers, both existing and potential. 

Be prompt and helpful with your replies. The customer looking for a solution to their problem will have questions and will go with the business that replies quickly and most comprehensively to their query. 

Respond promptly and helpfully to any queries or complaints from existing customers. From Angi to Trustpilot to Yelp, consumer review websites influence customers’ choices – make sure that you’re earning some glowing reviews online.

5. A vision for your business

It’s important to know where you’re going as a company. Where do you want to be in five years? A detailed business plan is key to setting down your company’s future. Like those New Year’s resolutions we all try to keep, though, the key is to make the objectives as detailed and actionable as possible. Think precise targets and timeframes, rather than vague aspirations. Identify some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – whether financial, such as profit margin, or non-financial, such as customer satisfaction or online visibility – and use them to shape your business’s future.

Countingup is the business current account with free, inbuilt accounting software that’s designed for small business owners. It helps you to keep your expenses in shape and simplify your tax returns so that you can focus on growing your business. Learn more here