When you start your business, there’s a lot to consider. Some things like product, price and profit margin will be obvious. But there will be other issues that present themselves that you may not have contemplated as a new business owner.
At Bright Fish Media, we focus on digital marketing services, but there’s obviously more to a business than that. We provide digital marketing services to a range of small businesses. Here, we cast a light on some of the issues that our clients have faced, which they didn’t consider when they first started out.
Consider Customs Clearance
Customs clearance has been a big issue for many small businesses, especially since Brexit.
One of our clients makes bespoke handmade clothing. They were waiting on a batch of material, which had been purchased internationally. A customer wanted a dress making for a wedding she was attending. However, the fabric was stuck in customs for weeks. As time went on, the client was getting more and irate and, in the end, due to delays, the decision was made to repurchase the fabric locally.
Sometimes buying internationally can save you a lot of cash, but if you’re delivering something that’s time critical, buying internationally might not be the best solution.
Customs clearance can also be an issue at the end of the sales process. We have seen clients having to deal with angry international customers, who have orders that have been delayed.
Customs clearance is completely out of your control, so you need a strategy in place for when it does happen. If you’re unsure where to start, the Twill ‘Go Global Guide’ Campaign will give you the Customs Clearance knowledge you need to incorporate this into your business strategy.
Cashflow Is King
They say that cash is king, but one of our engineering clients disagrees. As they entered the pandemic, they decided to work on a new business, developing a product thy felt their industry desperately needed. However, they didn’t fully appreciate just how much time and money this new product would take to develop and launch. If it hadn’t been for their personal savings. Which they were able to plough into it, their company would have folded.
So it’s important to remember that cashflow is king. Always. Having a flow of money is crucial to any business, and it is something you need to keep a close eye on. After all, if the cash suddenly dries up, you may find yourself needing to wind your new business venture down.
It makes sense to start off with a lump sum investment if you can. You should also price up what your start-up costs will be and allow some slack for extras. We’d recommend you allow a 20% cushion. If you can’t afford that, add in an extra 10 per cent, minimum.
We’d also recommend that you start small. Don’t try and launch a number of new products at once, for example. Instead, choose one and make sure you do it well. You can then take the lessons you learn forward when you start to scale up.
Choose Your Suppliers Wisely
You’re dependent on your supplier being efficient, so it’s important to choose the right one.
You need to take time researching options. If you can, ask others for recommendations before diving in. You can also get potential suppliers to pitch their services to you. Het them to answer all of your questions before you place your first order.
You need to ensure that you’re buying quality products, but you also need to make sure that your supply chain isn’t going to dry up. We’d recommend ordering small to test out the items and asking questions about availability. You don’t want to buy too much, but equally, you don’t want the supplier to run out of the item that’s paramount to your operation. You should also consider researching similar items that can act as a substitute.
If you try working with a supplier and it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to move on.
You should also try to avoid setting up any long-term partnership agreements, especially initially. You don’t want to end up locked into a business agreement that isn’t working for you.
Put Up Prices If You Need To
The market is volatile at the moment and costs seem to be going up at every turn. You may have priced a certain product up at a particular price point, but if that item suddenly becomes financially unviable, you need to act.
Don’t be afraid of putting your prices up if this happens. It makes sense to warn your customers it’s going to happen and of course nobody likes putting things up in price. But if you don’t address the issue, you may find that you end up going out of business completely.
Managing Customer Expectations
Bad news travels fast, so if you’re not managing your customer’s expectations accordingly, you may find that they vent their frustrations publicly. To avoid this, you need to keep the lines of communication open.
Always be honest. It is pointless making promises you can’t keep. Many small businesses fail to invest in customer services from the onset and this can be costly. You should always ensure you have a strategy in place, because without customers, do you have a business?
Remaining A Step Ahead Of The Competition
Once you get rolling with your business and start to carve your own path, it’s natural to take your eye off what the competition is doing. Whilst getting obsessed with the competition isn’t advisable, you need to make sure that you don’t fall behind and that you continue to offer value. Focus on your USP and always try to strive to improve.
Ensuring That Your New Business Thrives
It is important to be prepared for all possible eventualities when you’re first starting out, so you’re able to sustain and grow your business venture. We hope that this article has given you some insight into the things that other small businesses have faced. With some thought and preparation, you can ensure that you don’t fall into the same trap.
This post is a collaboration with Twill, but all thoughts and experiences belong to us and the small businesses we work with.