10 Small Business Tips for Beginners

Creating a new small business is an exciting and scary proposition. Getting help and support is vital, particularly at the start, so we wanted to provide 10 tips for small businesses at the beginning of their journey.

There are so many things to learn and elements that could go wrong that the more you are aware of at the beginning, the better prepared you can be to achieve success.

So here is our list of 10 small business tips for beginners, starting with doing your research…

Small business tips for beginners

Tip 1: Research Before You Begin

You have a great business idea, your enthusiasm level is high and are ready to get going. We don’t want to lose that momentum, but before starting your own business you need to put in some background work, starting with researching how unique the business idea is.

The reality is 99% of businesses that get created today have direct competition from day one. That is not a problem, but you do need to understand that competition and your sector before you go headfirst into creating your new small business.

  • Who are the main competition and what messaging do they lead with (this denotes what they are good at)
  • Understand the pricing within the industry. Learn the range of pricing options and what drives higher price points
  • Where is the competition located? Do you have the opportunity to make an impact locally or are you better going for a more national or even international approach?
  • What channels are they marketing in? Get a head start on where to find target customers and do direct research with potential customers
  • What niches are being covered, who are the other businesses appealing to as a target audience?

One big tip for anyone starting out for the first time with their business idea: if at all possible, pick a sector or target market that you have worked in before. If you can achieve this, people will already know and trust you, and you will be well versed in how to navigate the market dynamics.

Tip 2: Find Your Niche

Great news, you have selected a sector and product you want to sell. Time to start selling, right? Wrong. Most sectors are massive and to get your message heard and gain momentum, you want to find a sub-section, commonly known as a niche. Let us explain with an example.

“XYZ Creative Services” designs and develops websites; they attempt to appeal to everyone and struggle to distinguish themselves from the other 1,000 web design agencies.

“Hospitality Creative Services” designs and develops websites for restaurants and venues. They focus on this specific niche and can demonstrate why they are so different from the competition.

A better way to manage your finances

With Hiveage you can send elegant invoices to your customers, accept online payments, and manage your team — all in one place.

If you are a restaurant looking to hire someone to build your website, who do you think you’d choose?

The key to a good niche is finding a space small enough that the competition is low but big enough to sustain your small business. Also, remember that over time you can expand into new areas once you have a reputation and testimonials. A niche is superb at getting you started.

Tip 3: Define Who You Are

What Is Your Mission

Branding is not a concept most small businesses think about, but it is more than just a logo or name. It is the essence of what you stand for. Do you exist to provide the best quality in your chosen field? Is your goal to be a supporter of local businesses? Do you simply aim to be the cheapest option?

These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself, leading to understanding your mission. A mission statement is about the purpose of your business, what it aims to achieve. If your goal is to grow to include multiple staff it will help them understand the business, but if your initial ambition is to be self-employed, then the mission will be about your goals.

What’s In A Name

Your business name is important but people spend too long focused on it. Your chief goal is not to choose a terrible one that puts people off. Don’t worry about creating one that will change the world. Apple is only a great global brand and business name because of the product and vision of the business, not because of the name they picked.

It is ok to be related to what you do but sometimes that makes it harder to pick a name: people often end up choosing something that means something to them and then when they explain the business they will put it in a description. For example, Red Box is the accountancy firm for the people of our little village.

One bonus tip when looking at names is website URLs. Very few businesses can survive without a web presence, so when looking at names, get a feel for the website addresses available for that name as well as the social media handles.

A logo is important so you have a distinct brand but like your own company name, it should not be overthought and take days of your time. Once you have a name and a mission, you have a number of simple routes to get a logo. You can find a good local design firm, a recommended contractor or look for someone on Fiverr, all of these options will be able to create you some examples to choose from.

Tip 4: Set Goals

If you don’t understand your destination then your journey will have no direction. At the beginning of your journey towards creating your new small business you need to have goals, the things you want to achieve.

These will be a combination of short term and long term, starting with the overall goals and working backwards. You’ll set your goals for the next couple of years then work out the smaller goals that will help you achieve that.

For example, depending how much you can invest into your business at the start will dictate how quickly you need to be profitable. For others, they will need to make money from day one. To achieve these goals you’ll need to track your business finances from the start.

A better way to manage your finances

With Hiveage you can send elegant invoices to your customers, accept online payments, and manage your team — all in one place.

Tip 5: Everyone Needs A Business Plan

Now it’s time to get very practical. Any business, regardless of size, needs a business plan. This might be needed to raise startup funds, get a small business loan or just to give yourself focus on what you can afford to spend. Once created, it allows you to plan changes as the business and the business structure evolves.

Many of the factors we have covered in tips 1-4 should be added to your business plan, for example, what are your goals, the competitor landscape and niche you will be targeting.

Business Financial Planning

Another key component will be growth planning, so build yourself a financial plan. Assess all the fixed costs involved in creating and running the business, then start to factor in variable costs related directly to running the service/product. Building this into a plan can help you avoid forgetting those hidden startup costs.

Business Financial Planning

This will show you what break-even points you have, what money you have left for things like marketing and sales and use the information to plan going forward.

For example, you might decide you need to spend money on paid advertising. With a business plan in place, you’ll understand what capital you have to invest and also the return needed to justify the spend.


Your business plan becomes a permanent record of what you are looking to achieve and helps maintain focus. Whenever you start a new business, many factors can become a distraction, so having a good solid business plan to consistently revert to is vital for staying on track.

Tip 6: Articulate What Makes You Special

We have a plan and it’s almost time to go out into the wild and start talking to people, but before you do, make sure you can articulate what makes you stand out from the crowd, why someone should choose you.

Very few businesses are truly unique in the modern world, but find a combination of things that when grouped make you different from the rest. It might be the niche that you target, the way you support the product, it could be your pricing model, maybe it's a combination of all of them or ten other things.

Your message and how you explain it has to be succinct and powerful. Less is more. The concept of the elevator pitch was created at a time when attention spans were greater. In modern society, you have even less time to get your point across. This might be face to face, during a webinar or within 3 seconds of someone seeing a post on Facebook.

Start by listing out all the things that mean you are special. Next, combine the key elements to highlight uniqueness. Finally, learn to explain these points within the realms of what you do. The prospect needs to understand what you do and why they would choose you over everyone else.

Tip 7: Network Like A Master

As a small business owner, you are the best salesman, the point of contact with the customer and the person that people complain to! As you grow this can evolve but when you start your business no one will understand it like you or convince prospects to buy from you and customers to remain with you.

The most cost-effective way to achieve this is networking. You need to make yourself part of the community and become someone trusted in your sector. The old adage is true, people buy from people and the best way to meet people is networking.

Networking Examples

Armed with the advice from tip 6, let us look at some good examples of networking places we can spread our message. Which one is right for your business will depend entirely on service/product and the sector you operate in.

  1. Local community groups - there are so many options for networking in person locally that we wrote an entire article about it!
  2. Facebook groups. There are Facebook groups for almost any subject. Learn which ones your next customer is in and then become part of that community. Offer help to the group and build a reputation as a valued member
  3. LinkedIn. The world's largest networking platform, if your target customers utilise LinkedIn, then this is a great place to connect, engage and sell to potential customers
  4. Forums - From large platforms like Reddit through to niche forums for individual sectors, they exist for people to share ideas and problems. These can be the perfect place to engage and find new customers
  5. Industry events. Every industry has its bodies and networking groups that meet regularly and host larger events where vendors/suppliers meet with customers

Having discovered the best places to network, it’s important to prepare yourself. Networking is about listening and participating, don’t just arrive expecting to sell. The more benefit you bring to a networking group or event, the more you will ultimately take from it.

A bonus tip is using your network to get you referrals and testimonials. As a small business, you might struggle to get people to take a chance on an unknown entity. The best way of combating this is by asking others to recommend you or give you a testimonial to be used in digital marketing.

A better way to manage your finances

With Hiveage you can send elegant invoices to your customers, accept online payments, and manage your team — all in one place.

Tip 8: Effective Marketing

Marketing is an area many small business owners are uncomfortable with, but with a little planning and covering the basics, it doesn’t have to be that scary.

Know Your Customer

Step one is thinking like your customer. Get this right and everything else about marketing is easy. You must recognise that not everyone can be your customer. If you attempt to market to everyone, then you’ll do an average job. If you market just to target customers, then you’ll do an amazing, focused job.

To truly understand your customer as well as a best friend, you need to get into their minds and sympathise with the pains they have, understand their core needs, celebrate their desires and respect their purchase drivers. If you combine this information with basic demographic information like the male/female split; age range; income and family status, you have a rounded view of them.

Going forward all your marketing should be geared towards these target customers. Writing an article? Think, would your ideal customer read it. Posting on social media? Will your ideal customer be attracted to it? Building a new product? Would your ideal customer buy it?

Where Do Your Customers Hang Out?

Once you understand your customer, the next step is identifying what channels to reach them in. It doesn’t matter which routes to market you prefer, only which ones your customer uses. When you worked on your ideal customer, chances are you had 2-4 different customer types.

Assess them and find the common channels, allowing you to achieve efficiency by only spending time on a few channels. For example, don’t have seven different social media accounts if your ideal customer is only present on two of them.

Regardless of the ones you focus on, if you need help to improve your social media presence, I highly recommend this article for background reading.

What Do You Say To Your Customers

You need to understand what major topics you should be covering in your marketing and then look at ways to generate lots of content about them.

Top Level Subjects

These should consider two critical factors: what can you discuss confidently AND what does your customer want to learn about. The biggest mistake small businesses make is talking about what they do all the time.

Focus on the things that the customers want to read about and eventually, you’ll be able to transition the conversation towards your product once you’ve built rapport with the customers. People recognise their pains in your marketing, not your solution to the pain.

Once you’ve identified those big topics, focus on big pieces of content that can sustain you for weeks at a time. The most efficient marketing approach is to create one large piece of content (for example a long blog article) and include a variety of elements like a quote, a list and some good images. These elements can then be converted to smaller pieces of digital marketing to be used in the channels of choice.

For example, if your customer uses Instagram, then you can show off some of the images and link to the master article or maybe build an inspirational post with the quote. Again, the goal is to do the work once and then be able to recycle the information over many weeks, saving you a lot of time and effort.

Tip 9: Technology And Automation Are Your Friends

As a small business owner, you always need to be conscious of the limited time you have. Where possible you need to find solutions that cost little but save money and time by automating your processes. This is where technology is your friend.

Financial software

Start by putting in place invoicing software that will automate most of the process, update your clients automatically and give access to the right people at the right time. You can get a free account with Hiveage to get going today.

Marketing automation

This is the ability to trigger communications based on people's actions. For example, an email welcome program when someone registers on the website.

Customer service

Chatbots are a good example of using technology to handle the initial customer queries and filter down the ones that land with you.

Task Management

This could be something as simple as online notes or a more complex solution like Trello. One key advantage of all these platforms is they can be accessed through any device, from your work PC through to your phone.

Booking calls/meetings

Use an online booking system, like Calendy that allows people to automatically book time in your diary. They connect automatically to your calendar and save you having to check your availability.

Virtual meetings

Platforms like Zoom have taught us it is no longer required to attend all meetings in person. Where sensible, book a virtual call and save hours in travel, as well as keep startup costs down

Tip 10: Prepare Mentally For Bad Days

Setting up and running your own successful business can be incredibly rewarding, but it doesn’t come easily. There will be ups and downs, and how you manage these problems will decide how successful you are in the long term.

All problems can be resolved and often, by taking the right approach, you can take something positive from the experience.

  • If a customer cancels a contract, understand why and take the learning to improve for the next customer. Improve the contract so they have less chance of leaving unexpectedly
  • You might spend money on digital marketing that doesn’t give you a return as you expected. Reassess your customer profile and check whether you are using the right channels. Did your messaging clearly articulate why someone should choose you?
  • A new competitor enters the market and starts to steal your customers. This is common and something you need to be prepared for. Learn what is working for this new upstart, improve your own proposition. This is often a wake-up call and reminder to always be evolving.

This list could go on, but what it has in common is the ability to remain level headed, understand the situation and learn from it. As a small business owner, if you prepare mentally for the bad days, then you’ll be able to manage the difficult situations as they arise.

This nicely leads us to a bonus tip at the end: try and surround yourself with a good support network. Being a small business owner can be a lonely existence. To help you survive you need to have people you can talk to, those with shared experiences. This is where your networking comes in very handy as you’ll find peers that you can talk to, people that have faced the same problems as yourself.

Ultimately, the best tip for anyone creating a small business is to have belief in what you are looking to achieve.

We certainly believe you have what it takes when it comes to starting a small business and of course, we are here to help where we can, beginning with a free Hiveage account to start streamlining your payments and organising those business finances.

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