‘Market research’ seems to have acquired itself a shoddy reputation in recent years. Mention the word ‘research’ and most people pull a face that says, ‘I got a call from some pushy young upstart who told me he was doing a survey then tried to sell me double glazing/broadband/utilities’ (delete as appropriate – or maybe you’ve had all three…). But the truth is that market research is essential to every business and you can’t afford to ignore it. Soo Darcy, owner of Papyrus Research and author of Competitive Intelligence for Law Firms (Ark Group 2008), gives us a quick rundown of the key activities that every small business owner should be doing.
Small business marketing is a huge topic, people write books about it that still don’t tell you everything, so what we’re hopefully going to do here is let you know the really important bits about small business marketing and how you can use them in your business. What you think marketing is now, might well change as you read on, but hopefully we can show you how you can use it in your particular business.
Small business insurance is one of those essential but slightly confusing things that all small business owners need to get on top of. Choosing who to insure your small business with is difficult enough, but there are also a variety of products that you really should understand before you even start shopping around, the main thing that most small business owners don’t realise is that most small business insurance is actually optional. The one insurance product that is a legal requirement for all businesses that employ people is Employers Liability Insurance – it doesn’t matter if the business is a sole trader or limited company or whether the staff are paid or voluntary – you must have insurance to protect the interests of your staff should they be injured whilst at work.
Managing cashflow is vital for small businesses to survive. For those new to business, or perhaps those looking to start up in business, cashflow is basically the movement of cash in and out of your business and it’s one of the most important aspects of running a small business. The ideal position is always to be ‘cashflow positive’ – this is when the the costs of a particular service or product that you have delivered are due after you’ve been paid, for example, you buy 20 widgets and agree with your supplier that you can pay them 30 days later, the next day you sell all 20 widgets to a customer who agrees to pay you 10 days later – the result is you’re cashflow positive, the cash from your customer is in the bank before you owe your supplier and everyone is happy. Unfortunately, the chances of this happening in the real world are very slim – so what can you do about it?
Holding job interviews for new members of staff can be a daunting prospect for a small business owner who has little or no experience of the process – but if your small business is growing, the chances are that you will need to hold job interviews sooner or later.
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