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Getting a business off the ground isn’t easy. We’ve been there ourselves, and we know exactly how difficult it can be. As our business has grown, we’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way that may help other small business owners and entrepreneurs as they navigate the path towards success for their businesses. In our experience, we’ve found that investing time in these three areas can improve the productivity and strategy of any business:

Content

You need content—no matter what your product or service is. Content is essential for any type of marketing or communications effort and, when done right, can help: legitimize your business, acquire customers, and solidify your brand identity. If you have the resources to pay for a content strategist, by all means hire one. If not, start by creating your own most essential materials.

If you haven’t put much thought into creating content yet, or even if you have a well-established content strategy, think about what you want to convey with your brand. Try asking the following questions:

  • Am I using the most effective platform to communicate with customers?
  • Does the tone of my content resonate with customers and leave them wanting more?
  • Does my content reflect the brand identity I’m trying to establish?
  • Am I looking for ways to be innovative with my content in order to grab customers’ attention?
  • Does my content clearly communicate what customers need to know?
  • How can I use analytics to better evaluate the effectiveness of my content?

Helpful tip: If you’ve hit a creative road block and need some inspiration or guidance, search engines can be one of the most valuable resources for finding strategies and best practices when it comes to email subject lines, newsletter topics, blog structure, etc. 

Financial Forecasting

A few years ago we were searching for ways to bring more funding options with greater value to our customers. We decided to invest more time and money into our Business Development team to cultivate new partnerships and improve current ones. In order to accomplish this we had to research opportunities for new partnerships, develop strategies to reach these potential partners, adjust our staffing to handle the increased lead volume, and adjust our content to communicate the increased value of our product to our prospective customers. Each of these steps took time and money, which meant that we had to forecast how those expenses would affect our finances in the long run.

During this experience, we learned that you truly can’t afford NOT to do financial forecasting. You need to know where your money is going now, and where your company will be positioned financially in the future. Knowing this will impact nearly every business decision you and your team make.

A great place to start is by creating an operating budget for the next six months. Then, because you never know how what kinds of unexpected expenses may arise, add a little bit of extra room to the budget. Still have some wiggle room? Create a strategy for investing this extra money in a way that will contribute to the growth of your business. Keep in mind that creating a budget also provides you with the perfect opportunity to formulate goals for your business and to evaluate existing goals.

Onboarding Documents/Policies

As an entrepreneur or small business owner it’s easy to get caught up in the exciting possibilities that new employees bring, and even easier to completely forget about fundamental HR processes that are well-established in the corporate world.

We learned this during the early days of Fundwise when we hired our first employees without a formal onboarding or training process. It wasn’t a big deal with our first few employees but as we continued to grow, things got messy. After a while, we realized that we needed an organized system to ensure our new employees were prepared for and comfortable in their new roles. Since then, we’ve made sure that each employee receives an official welcome packet along with instant access to a training portal, complete with welcome videos and an overview of how our business works.

Help your employees get off to a good start by having a training process in place, implementing a few basic HR policies, and keeping track of important documents. This will create fewer headaches for everyone, and your employees will thank you!

We chose three very different categories to get you thinking about the areas where your business could use a little TLC. Choose at least one to adapt to your current business needs, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly other processes fall into place as a result.