Starting a small business? Here’s how to succeed 

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By Rachel Dettmer | 16th March 2022 | 4 min read

We recently hosted a webinar with two notable UK entrepreneurs; Richard Osborne – Founder of UK Business Forums, and Duane Jackson – Staffology and Kashflow Founder and Technical Director of IRIS Software Group. 

They shared valuable advice for small businesses getting started, talked about the implications of not prioritising HR and employee wellbeing and explained how to use tech to better manage that all-important cash flow.  

Just get started! 

Having a business plan, or some sort of direction, is great; but at some point, you’ve just got to go for it.” – Richard Osborne 

“Do something – it doesn’t matter what. Even if it’s wrong, you will learn from it.” – Duane Jackson 

Two of the biggest blockers for entrepreneurs is waiting for an idea or inspiration to hit them and overplanning. Both Duane and Richard agreed that the best approach to overcoming these challenges is to just start. 

It’s not necessarily about the product or the service, but your approach. Likewise, while a plan is essential and will allow you to establish measures of success when reflecting on it, it cannot be perfected as there are so many unknowns, and overplanning is going to stop you from making any progress. Get your business off the ground, pay your customer’s attention, get feedback, be hands-on, and this will naturally direct your plan. 

Failure is a reality and something every entrepreneur will experience – things aren’t going to go as expected, and they will go wrong. But if you are agile in your approach and you just get started you can work it out as you go. 

Even if you're a small business, prioritise your HR   

“No one goes into business to manage people.” – Duane Jackson 

“Tools make the HR side of business manageable.” – Richard Osborne 

There is a critical need for SMEs to prioritise HR and employee wellbeing, as it will safeguard not only your business but also your employees. You are not only legally obligated to follow a formal process, but you have a duty of care to look after, understand, monitor and support your employee’s wellbeing.  

Duane shared an experience that we could all learn from: by not keeping good records or following processes, he lost a tribunal hearing because of dismissing someone incorrectly. He noted that he paid the cost of not prioritising HR processes and that there are solid reasons why you need to do things properly. 

But there is also the softer perspective of people management – managing holidays, sick leave, pay rises, appraisals, all of which can get very time consuming and hard to manage from a spreadsheet, making it easy to drop the ball.  

Lines of communication will also increase as your business grows. Without a formal structure in place that serves as a solid foundation for organic growth, growing your team is going to become complicated, and it is going to take up a lot of your time. Both Duane and Richard said that without software and tools as part of your foundation, it is going to be difficult to manage people. 

Adding to this, a challenge of the new world can be trying to maintain relationships and manage employee wellbeing when you are not in the office every day. With a formal structure in place, you give your employees an opportunity to map out their ambitions, manage their expectations/responsibilities and create guidelines and systems to lean on, all of which will help you manage their wellbeing.  

Manage your time and money with tech

“If a customer is not paying, they are not a customer.” – Richard Osborne 

Being able to effectively manage and understand your cash flow is a critical part of any business. Invoices, repeat billing, chasing up invoices, receiving payments – all these small business accounting processes can and should be automated with tech. It will allow you to manage your business’s money better and free up time to focus on other areas of opportunity. 

Through the adoption and use of tech, you also allow your teams to be collaborative and ensure that efforts are not disjointed. By default, this also creates more time for them to focus on revenue-generating activities.  

While tech can be a big (and scary) investment for SMEs just starting out, adopting tech and using these platforms to their full extent will allow your business to grow and your revenue to increase.  

Watch the full webinar here.

Or, check out our guide to small business accounting, compliance and growth: From startup to success.

Time To Grow

For a limited time, we’re offering businesses up to 50% off all IRIS software so you can optimise your processes and refocus your time on critical activity – find out more here