The sharing economy has opened up entrepreneurship to many people for whom small business ownership once seemed out of reach. No longer do you have to manage every aspect of a business in-house to call yourself a small business owner. The sharing economy makes it so more people can become entrepreneurs without massive amounts of startup capital and business expertise.
How? As CoinTelegraph explains, “Put simply, [the sharing economy] is where individuals share items or services, usually on the internet.” Using goods they already own — cars, home repair tools, and even homes, for example — and skills they already have, this new class of small business owners is carving a notch in the business world that didn’t seem achievable even 10 years ago.
However, running a successful business still requires a certain level of savvy. Here are five must-haves for anyone thinking of starting their own business.
Increased access to entrepreneurship means increased competition. Today, it’s more important than ever to set your business apart. The key? Cultivating a brand that connects with your customer base. Instead of trying to market to everyone, identify your niche and design your branding around the demands of your ideal customer. You also want to make sure your name and logo stand out, but choosing the right business name and logo can prove challenging. Look to online name generators to help find the perfect moniker that matches your brand. You can also find free online logo services, or consider tapping a graphic designer to come up with the perfect, eye-catching logo.
Whether you’re selling locally or online, odds are, you’re starting small. Starting small limits risk and allows you to pivot quickly if an idea falls flat. But if your business does take off, it’s important that you’re able to scale up quickly to meet customer demand without sacrificing efficiency and profitability. Outsourcing and automating back-end tasks is key in creating a scalable business; you don’t have the capacity to grow your business if you’re preoccupied with administrative tasks. Read more about what it takes to create a scalable business at Entrepreneur.
The sharing economy is built on trust. You trust your Lyft driver to get you to your destination safely, your TaskRabbit handyman not to ransack your home. And as a business owner in the sharing economy, it’s paramount that customers trust you — trust you to deliver a quality product, to treat their personal data with care, and to respond to criticism with honesty. As Wired discusses, it’s a marked shift from the aspirational imagery and spin that once reigned supreme.
Ease of Payment
These days, electronic and online payment systems are an expected part of doing business. That’s because they make it easier for consumers to do business with you by allowing them to pay you online from the comforts of home, whether by credit or debit cards or even eChecks. Furthermore, they can store your customers’ payment information and allow them to make recurring payments, making it simpler for them to continue doing business with you (and easier for you to keep revenue coming in).
If you don’t accept electronic payments, you’ll lose customers — and that means losing money. While this may be obvious to companies doing business online, small businesses whose transactions are local and face-to-face often try to get around processing fees by operating as a cash-only business. But often, you don’t even recognize the money you’re not making, because customers won’t approach your business in the first place if you don’t accept electronic payments. As a business owner, you not only need to accept electronic payments, you need to ensure your payment system is convenient, as secure as possible, and PCI compliant.
From paying your taxes to projecting sales, good records are key for the success of any small business — which brings us back to why you should outsource your administrative work rather than do it yourself. Odds are, you’re not going to master bookkeeping while trying to start and grow a business at the same time. Delegating the work to someone with the skills to do it right is a worthwhile investment.
It’s exciting to think about sending your creations into the world to be bought, loved, and shared. But in the world of small business, a great idea only gets you so far. If you’re going to attract a loyal customer base and grow your business, you need to spend time thinking about these critical aspects of business ownership. While they might not be the glamorous side of being your own boss, they’re what give your new business serious staying power.
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