How to cope with running your own business

How to cope with running your own business image

Business ownership can be stressful, and although there are many highs, there are also plenty of lows. But it’s how you manage those tough periods that can make or break your business journey.

There's lots to learn, from coming up with the initial business idea and understanding how to market your products or services to learning all about digital marketing and how to grow and maintain a successful business.

Every successful company has started where you are right now, so if you’re in the infancy of business ownership, keep reading to learn how to better cope with running your business.

Why do businesses fail?

Cash flow, or lack thereof, is one of the top reasons for business failure worldwide. In the UK, 50,000 businesses fail each year because of cash flow issues, with 65% stating that lack of funding access is responsible.

Cash flow problems can affect any type of business in any industry, but startup businesses are the most vulnerable because they’re brand new. Before you launch your business, it’s important to build up cash reserves or secure funding and closely analyse your cash flow from the beginning. By understanding what you’re spending money on and whether the expenses are necessary, you can improve your cash flow.

10 tips for running your business

The following ten tips can help you build and maintain a successful small business.

1. Don’t forget about the basics

It’s easy to get carried away when running a business, you want to run before you can walk. You want to get your products in front of your audience and start generating sales. But if you want to build sustainable growth, you need to strip it back to basics and focus on understanding things like your target audience and the marketplace you’re entering.

Creating a business plan can help you map out financial goals and projections, understand how to market your products and services, how to price your items and build a successful business. Without this roadmap, you can waste money marketing to the wrong customers, and, before you know it, your cash reserves are depleted.

2. Realise your shortcomings

Although it might just be you in your business for now (and you might not have the funds to hire full-time help), it’s worth noting the elements you might need to consider outsourcing. There are plenty of freelance contractors out there that you can pay per project or on an hourly basis to help you do some of the heavy lifting.

For example, if you need a new website but you don’t necessarily have the time or skill set to build it yourself, you might consider enlisting the help of a freelance web designer. Or if you’re in the dark about filing your self-assessment with HMRC, outsource to an accountant.

Although money might be tight, list out the tasks you need to complete to launch your business or take it to the next level, and figure out how your time is best spent, i.e., building your website or focusing on something that will add value.

3. Set SMART goals

Every business owner wants their business to succeed, but there’s a big difference between hoping and doing. Setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) can keep you focused and motivated.

Creating goals that consider your current resources and budget makes them more achievable. So, although they might not be easy to reach, when you do reach them, you’ll get a sense of satisfaction, spurring you on to complete the next objective.

4. Invest in training programs

Continued professional development (CPD) can inspire and motivate you to think about your business differently. Those who invest in upskilling themselves can gain a competitive advantage in their market, fuel business growth long-term, and increase motivation.

Consider taking a short course to learn more about social media management or enrol in a business management and leadership course to better manage your employees. There are plenty of online learning platforms available, including Udemy, HubSpot Academy and FutureLearn.

Running a business can be stressful

5. Implement an accounting system

Accurately managing your business finances is essential for any business. To maintain a successful business, you need financial visibility to be able to forecast cash flow and budget plans. Implementing an accounting system keeps your business finances tidy and information easily accessible.

If you have an ecommerce business, many small business accounting software can integrate with your ecommerce platform, such as WooCommerce or Shopify. You can connect your tech stack to gain better visibility, giving you better control over your finances.

6. Prioritise time management

Managing a small business means being pulled in many different directions (particularly if you’re a sole trader), so it’s up to you to split your time effectively to complete tasks. By not effectively managing your time, not only do you run the risk of not meeting your goals, but you’ll likely experience a poor work-life balance as ‘work time’ seeps into home life — a common complaint amongst business owners with 33% claiming there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.

Tips to improve time management:

  • Stick to the same working hours every day
  • Consider using time-tracking apps to pinpoint time-zapping tasks
  • Outsource or automate repetitive tasks like invoicing
  • Digitise processes to make them more efficient

7. Don’t forget to celebrate the wins

Even the smallest wins should be celebrated. Business ownership can be a long and lonely road, so make time to celebrate every time you convert a new customer or sign on a new client, every time you acquire new social media followers or when you get a positive customer review.

It’s these moments that can help motivate you to continue working hard on your business.

8. Accept that you’ll make mistakes

Making mistakes is ultimately how you learn what works and what doesn’t. Although you can learn from common mistakes made by others, you’re going to make mistakes of your own, and that’s ok. No business is perfect; mistakes are still made by many established business owners, but it’s how you learn from them that can propel your business forward.

9. Always keep tabs on your competition

You can learn a lot from your direct and indirect competitors — maybe they do things that inspire you, or perhaps their strategy has elements you want to avoid replicating. Keeping a close eye on your competitors can help you identify gaps in the market and better understand customer preferences and behaviour. Read through their reviews, what are customers loving, and what are they complaining about? Use what you find to your advantage.

10. Ask customers for feedback

Although asking for feedback can be daunting, it’s the best way to understand how your customers feel about your products or services. Bite the bullet and contact your most recent customers. If you find no one is willing to give you their honest feedback, consider creating a short questionnaire so customers can give you their unbiased, anonymous feedback.

Do you notice any patterns in customer responses? If there are glaringly obvious problems, look to fix them immediately. Growing a business can be all-consuming, but if you break up each task and focus on one at a time, you can make progress faster.

How Capalona can help you boost working capital

Our loan comparison tool is built to help small business owners in the UK find, compare and apply for affordable, flexible business loans. We work alongside UK direct lenders to provide a free comparison service that allows you to compare the online marketplace in seconds.

From applying for secured business loans to accessing a merchant cash advance, we can help you find the best loan type for your needs. Compare business loans.

About the author

Helen Jackson Author
Written by Helen Jackson | June 18, 2024

Money Writer

Helen has over nine years of experience in content writing and writes financial content for us here at Capalona.

Updated: June 18, 2024
Published: January 11, 2019

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