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5 tips for small business owners

Keys to helping your business thrive

Consider this: In 2011, there were 28.2 million small businesses and 17,700 firms with 500 employees or more. In fact, small businesses make up 99.7% of U.S. employer firms.1 As a business owner, you are a vital part of the community in which you live, and a positive contributor to our economy.

About half of all businesses survive five years or more, and about one-third of them survive 10 years or more.2 Don’t just survive – thrive – with these tips to keep your business (and you) financially healthy for years to come.

  • Create a plan and follow it. Creating a business plan can help you determine your business’s vision, mission, objectives and goals – as well as help you develop a strategic roadmap to help you reach those goals.

    Where to start: The U.S. Small Business Administration has terrific resources, right at your fingertips. Check out SBA.gov > Starting & Managing > Create Your Business Plan to get started. You can also find local resources – including mentoring and counseling - right in your area when you click on “Local Resources.3
  • Manage your time efficiently. The many roles and responsibilities of a business owner means there’s usually never enough time to get everything done. Make the most of every minute of your day by learning to manage time better and becoming more productive. It takes discipline, but you can ensure time is on your side.

    Where to start: Caron Beesley, of the U.S. SBA advises, “Good prioritization skills and a formal schedule will help you keep an eye on the future needs of your business, your clients, inventory, and the inevitable variables that arise. Chart out important tasks such as client deliverables, tax deadlines, and billing cycles in blocks of time. Set aside uninterrupted time to focus on tasks that demand it. If priorities shift or urgent tasks sideline you, revisit the schedule at the end of the day and make adjustments.”

    Speak to other small business owners and do your research online to learn what time management tips and tricks work for others. Additionally, check out time management and productivity classes through SBA.gov, through your local Chamber of Commerce or library, or at a college in your community.
  • Learn the art of delegation. When you have too much on your plate, it’s time to delegate. With the right support, you can improve your productivity and reach – or exceed – your business goals.

    Where to start: Find the right allies – whether it’s employees, subcontractors, or perhaps even family. Creating a supportive and trusting team through training and shared goals. Be sure to consult the SBA’s online resource for hiring and retaining employees. Check out Check out SBA.gov > Starting & Managing > Hire & Retain Employees4 to get started. Network with other business owners, and don’t forget to check out what your local Chamber of Commerce has to offer in terms of resources. You can locate your local Chamber at www.chamberofcommerce.com.5
  • Focus on marketing. Effective marketing can help your business grow, so take time to get the word out. Even if you have a limited marketing budget, you can boost your marketing efforts for little or no money.

    Where to start: The ideas are endless and the potential great! Here are a few to get your creative juices flowing:
    • Create a marketing plan that you can edit, update, and share with your team.
    • Explore social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and Vine to promote your products and services. Be creative: social media is about staying top of mind with clients rather than a hard sell. Create how-to videos, post informative content and articles, or fun trivia specific to your business and brand.
    • Start a blog related to your customer base.
    • Collect e-mail addresses and harness the power of e-mail marketing.
    • Promote your business through your web site or online advertising.
    • Support a local charity or sponsor a sports team.
    • Become a local expert: Host seminars or how-to workshops for members of the community. You can find great advice and thought-provoking ideas online, as well. Check out SBA.gov > Starting & Managing a Business > Managing a Business > Running a Business > Marketing6 or chamberofcommerce.com > Advice.7
  • Make time for balance. We know you wear many hats, but don’t forget to make time for you. Staying healthy and knowing when it’s time to take a time-out is one the keys to success.

    Where to start: Find a mentor or take time to share ideas with a trusted advisor, take a daily hike with your dog, get out of town for a few days and attend a conference. Whatever you do to recharge, you’ll return to your business energized, invigorated, and ready to take on the world.

As a small business owner, you can count on us to support you every step of the way. Keep in mind, your New York Life agent is always here to help. Here’s to your future!

1SBA.gov, 2014 edition of Frequently Asked Questions About Small Business, http://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/FAQ_March_2014_0.pdf and http://www.sba.gov/advocacy/849
2http://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/FAQ_March_2014_0.pdf
3http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/how-write-business-plan
4ttp://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/establishing-business/hir
5http://www.chamberofcommerce.com/
6http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/managing-business/running-business/marketing
7http://www.chamberofcommerce.com/business-advice/