How To Run A Business Successfully | 10 Essential Steps

16-May-2024 13:27
in Commercial
by Sam Hodgson
How to run a business

Building a successful business is a combination of myriad factors, but simple luck doesn’t need to be one of them. With all our experience at Clifton Private Finance, we’ve selected our top 10 pieces of expert advice on how to run a successful business - give your business a boost by reading through them now.

How to Run a Business Successfully

Here are the 10 key steps to running a business successfully:

  1. Have a Fantastic Business Plan - Keep your business plan up to date and relevant throughout your business life.

  2. Communicate - Ensure you are listening and being listened to, don’t ever stop communicating.

  3. Obtain the Funding You Need - Use loans, grants, investments, or other financial products to ensure you have the funds you need to properly run your business.

  4. Prioritise Organisation - Learn to use the software and techniques that will keep your business running smoothly.

  5. Invest and Expand - Businesses grow or they shrink, make sure you are on the right side of the equation.

  6. Put Customer Service First, and Supplier Service a Close Second - Build relationships with your customers and treat your suppliers with respect.

  7. Keep Your Eye on Cash Flow - Make sure money in is greater than money out, and don’t be afraid to lean on financial help when times are hard.

  8. Be Creative and Innovative - Improve your industry with exciting new ideas and products.

  9. Be Prepared to Work Hard - Being an entrepreneur is not the easy option; be ready to put in the hours.

  10. Maintain Full Control Over Your Financial Situation - Don’t stick your head in the sand; instead keep a clear head and a keen eye on the business finances.

How to run a business


1. Have a Fantastic Business Plan

No, we’re not talking about the idea (though it helps if that’s pretty wonderful, too), but the solid, sometimes boring, document that is the business plan itself.

It’s a huge mistake! Your business plan should be a living document, used to refer to regularly to see if you are still meeting your goals, or adapted to reflect the reality of a changing situation. It has all your financial forecast in it (or at least, it did have, once upon a time…), so take a look and see if your real figures match those original estimates, and if not, what’s changed?

For businesses yet to get off the starting blocks, your business plan is the key to that initial funding; and for companies with a bit of a track record behind them, your business plan is still valuable in the same way - there’s plenty of financial support available for you if you can prove to prospective lenders that your business continues to be a strong and viable enterprise.

Don’t let your business plan rot away - keep it up-to-date and relevant always.


2 - Communicate

Good businesses communicate well and poor businesses don’t - it’s as simple as that. Communication is a key tool for every entrepreneur looking to run a successful business, and its scope is almost unlimited.

  • Communication with your customers is seen in multiple ways, from branding and marketing to get them onboard as customers in the first place, to the importance of the dedicated customer experience that’s essential to keeping them.
  • Personalisation in your dealings with your customers can encourage them to buy more from you, building a relationship that can make them a loyal patron.
  • Communication with your suppliers opens the door to better deals, early access to new products, and long-term collaborations that will help your business expand for years to come.
  • Communication with your employees ensures that your company culture is strong and stable, improving productivity and ensuring continuity for years. Employees will feel valued and loyalty will be maintained through regular communication and, like with customers, a few personal touches can go a long way.
  • Communication with essential service providers will provide you with knowledge of the best options available for your company, favourable terms, and often a more personal understanding in times of trouble.
  • Communication with your finance providers will mean their teams will work to find the best solutions to suit your business, provide support and advice where needed, and give you access to refinancing options that otherwise might be held back.

How to run a business


3 - Obtain the Finance You Need

Successful businesses run on money, and it’s a primary focus for every business leader, no matter how much of a philanthropist you are (or aspire to be). Making sure you have enough capital to do the things you need to do is essential.

To access the full range of financial offerings, it’s important that you work with a professional business finance broker. With years of experience and established relationships with both multinational banks and smaller niche financial providers, a business finance broker will ensure that you get the best deals tailored to suit your business need.

Capital can be obtained from many sources. Consider:

  • Business Loans - A business loan provides funding at any stage of your business journey and can typically be used without any restriction. With loan options designed to suit specific needs, almost every business in the UK can access this capital support.

  • Revolving lines of credit - Lines of credit facilities offer an injection of capital and ongoing cash flow support for businesses. Credit cards and overdrafts represent the best known options for revolving credit facilities, but look also to invoice financing, merchant cash advance and others for tailored options.

  • Asset finance - Designed to give your business access to equipment, vehicles and machinery without needing large sums of capital investment, asset finance is not a direct injection of capital investment but can service a similar purpose.

  • Investment funding - Outside private investment and venture capital is a good way to provide capital and other benefits, such as the network and experience of the investor, without the need for direct repayment. Investment funding however, is dilutive, meaning you give up equity of your business in return for the capital, and is not suitable for all entrepreneurs.

  • Crowdfunding - Online crowdfunding presents a strong alternative to traditional loans or investment for some industries. With a comprehensive crowdfunding marketing strategy and well-planned campaign, crowdfunding can offer significant capital without repayment terms.

  • Grants - Government and private corporation grants exist to provide financial support to businesses that work within a specific remit. With no obligation for repayment, grants are an excellent way to obtain much needed capital if the business meets the criteria.

How Much Could You Borrow?

Use our business loan calculator below to see what you could borrow.

How to run a business


4 - Prioritise Organisation

A poorly organised business is one that is doomed to failure - and there’s no need for it. Organisation, however, is definitely a skill that needs to be learned and perfected, so be willing to put aside time to hone this particular side of running a business.

Software is one way that business organisation can be made a lot simpler, from content management systems (CMS) that help you keep all your company database information in one place, through accounting software that integrates seamlessly with HMRC for your digital tax requirements, to project management tools that make timekeeping and the scheduling of daily tasks a breeze.

Essential company software is another aspect where financial help is available, with dedicated equipment finance offered to enable the necessary investment in top-tier software and hardware systems, and business loans on hand to help pay for employee training.

Depending on your industry sector, there may even be government grants dedicated to one or more aspects of the acquisition and personnel training of modern business software.


5 - Invest and Expand

Businesses success is never stationary - if you’re not growing, then you’re shrinking - and there’s only direction anyone wants to be going. You should constantly have an eye on expansion and pushing the business to the next stage.

Investing in your business can take many different forms:

  • Investing in people - You and your employees are the core of your company - the word ‘company’ comes from the idea of a collection of people working towards one shared goal. Take the time to invest in the people who make up your company, whether that’s by growing the team, or by making sure those who are already there are happy and well looked after. Investing in your people (including your own self-care) is a key part to business growth.

  • Investing in assets - Taking the decision to purchase additional assets can be a complicated one, balancing the productivity boost from having new and superior equipment, with the cost of doing so. Thankfully, there are many financial products that will help you expand the business assets, from capital loans to specialised asset based lending solutions.

  • Investing in processes - Consider how your business is run and take the time to review your processes and improve in the areas where you are slipping. Consultation with your team helps here!

  • Investing in marketing - Expansion is often centred on increasing your customer base and marketing is the core of this process. Branding, brand loyalty, product marketing and your online presence are all essential components to your marketing strategy. Marketing demands a constant level of attention, so if you don’t have the time yourself, be sure to assign this important task to someone capable.

  • Investing in innovation - Innovation is such a key component to business success that we’ve given it its own section later on.

How to run a business


6 - Put Customer Service First, and Supplier Service a Close Second

Your customers are your life and without them, your business is nothing. Customer service and the customer experience should be central aspects of your business model.

Take time to examine how your customers interact with your business and make sure that it’s as positive as possible - nothing loses customers and shrinks your business quite as quickly as being disrespectful.

Consider every aspect of your customer experience, from your personal conversations through to your online presence. Think about the small things like:

  • Are we listening to our customers?
  • Are our customers aware of the full range of services we offer?
  • Do we treat our customers like people?
  • Is our website and purchasing process easy to use?
  • Do we protect our customer data?
  • Are our customer interactions personable?
  • Is our aftercare service a positive experience?

But it’s not just customers; your suppliers are equally essential to your business success, so treat them with the same level of respect.

Pay your invoices on time, provide clear and positive feedback regarding their products and services, recommend them to others, and in all ways treat them as you would like your customers to treat you.


7 - Keep Your Eye on Cash Flow

Far too many businesses meet a sticky end because they simply don’t properly manage their cash flow. Upsettingly, so many lost businesses would have been successes if only they’d understood the financial support that exists to help with cash flow.

When you have good cash flow, the amount of money coming into your business is greater than the amount being spent - everything is rosy and the bank account is healthy. Bad cash flow, however, comes when the income isn’t enough to match the expenses and capital is eaten away to keep the company afloat.

In an ideal situation, you’d be prepared for it all with plenty of cash put aside to weather the storm, but for many companies - especially younger ones - being able to plan for the dry spells is a lot harder than it can seem.

Don’t panic! There are so many financial products designed to help with cash flow peaks and troughs, that struggling alone is simply not necessary. From merchant cash advance to supply chain financing and invoice finance, cash flow finance represents a range of customised loans and lines of credit that will make sure your business never falls waiting for payments to come in.

To speak about the best option for your business, get in touch for a free consultation with our specialists. 

Book Consultation »

How to run a business


8 - Be Creative and Innovate

Businesses that don’t innovate, stagnate. It is extremely important to be creative in your business endeavours and to push the boundaries on what has been done before.

-      Take calculated risks - Strong business leaders will take risks, but always having done their research and calculating the risks as much as possible to maximise the chance of success. Don’t leap without looking, but don’t be scared to leap when it’s right to do so.

-      Analyse the competition - Understanding your competitors will enable you to create new products and innovate in your field. When they are doing something right, copy it; when you can do better, better it.

-      Focus - Being creative does not mean forgetting your business focus. Keep an eye on driving the business in the direction it is meant to go in; don’t try to suddenly change track.

-      Plan - Creativity also doesn’t mean unthinking chaos. Good ideas need to be nurtured, so take the time to plan and develop them properly.

To that end, there is a strong amount of support for businesses that undertake significant amounts of research and development. Innovation grants and R&D tax relief are two ways that support is provided.


9 - Be Prepared to Work Hard

Running a business is not easy - no matter how it might look. Many people jump into building their own business because they are tired of the time they are putting in working for other people, but when you run your own business your workload is going to increase if you run a successful business. Be ready to put in lots of hours.

When you begin as a business leader, no doubt you have many of the skills needed for the position, but it’s rare to find an individual, especially one with no prior experience, who is so well-rounded they have no weak spots.

Work hard to:

  • Be a good leader - Leadership is key to running a business, even a sole trader business of one! Listen to your team and make confident decisions that further the business with their needs in mind. Offer positive review rather than regular criticism - and remember, you might think it’s ‘constructive criticism’ but they just hear the ‘criticism’ part.
  • Grow your network - Leading a business will need you to build relationships with many other people, both in your industry and beyond. Be sociable, listen to others, and build your network of contacts - you never know when you might need them.
  • Be flexible - Things will change and you need to adapt with them. Don’t remain rigid, even with what works, because the time will come when it doesn’t any more.
  • Take time to think - If you never step away, you will become blind to the business and your own personal needs. Take the time needed to focus on your home life, your interests and hobbies, or even just to sleep!


10 - Maintain Full Control Over Your Financial Situation

Business finances can be complex and difficult, but must be thoroughly considered throughout the business life. Any successful entrepreneur has a strong grasp on the company finances, regularly reviewing the situation and accepting the truth, whether good or bad.

Part of that is understanding the potential options in any financial situation: where additional funding support can come from, how to maximise the chances of any successful application, and what the best financial products are for the company’s growth.

-      Manage your business credit score - Keeping a watchful eye on your business credit score and doing what you can to keep it in good standing is an important step to obtaining finance when you need it.

-      Discuss your finance with your broker - Your finance broker will be able to give you the best advice on the products available for you to support your business needs.

-      Calculate and manage your debt service - Debt service is a measure of your debt obligations, ensure you have good understanding of your debt service to make the right decisions when considering future finance.

-      Apply tax relief - Tax relief is available to many aspects of your business, such as the government R&D tax relief scheme, or utilising asset finance to pay for equipment leasing as a business expense.

-      Revisit financial forecasts regularly - Update all financial forecasts and measure progress against previous estimates to keep the company plans on track.

-      Pay suppliers promptly - Improving your relationship with suppliers by paying invoices as soon as they are received will put you in good standing and increase the chance of deals and preferential treatment.

Building a Business Relationship with Clifton Private Finance

At Clifton Private Finance we have a team of specialist financial advisors and brokers with established relationships with the UK’s many finance providers.

We’re here to help you run a successful business, so why not give us a call today and open a conversation that will lead to a wealth of opportunity.

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