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Unlike big corporations who hire professionals to develop strategic business plans, small business owners often get trapped with managing routine tasks, which end up taking precedence over strategic planning. This can have a substantial impact on the direction and profitability of their businesses. To support this, below is an outline of a few key steps every small business owner should take to chart a course for a successful future.

1. Create a Business Plan

Getting a business plan down on paper often gets overlooked. Founders sometimes feel that having it in mind is good enough or sometimes feel anxious on where to start. In reality, writing it down—even if it changes later down the line—gives businesses a direction to follow and makes it easier to communicate with stakeholders. Creating a business plan is actually very easy. It typically includes a market analysis, SWOT analysis, vision, mission, strategic objectives, initiatives, and financial projections. Underpinning the business plan is the business model: it is critical for a business to know they are on a path to generating revenues, and ultimately profits.

2. Keep Track of Trends

Global as well as local events can have an impact on your business, even if they may not seem relevant at first. Monitoring trends in your region—social, political, economic, industry-specific or otherwise—allows you to stay two steps ahead of competitors and adapt to customer needs before they even realise they need it.

3. Remember Your Customers

One of the biggest reasons that start-ups fail is due to misreading market demands. Your customers’ suggestions, thoughts, desires, needs and feelings are your biggest asset, and it is imperative to keep them in mind when you expand. Collecting as much data as possible ensures that you are delivering the most value to fill your customers’ needs.

4. Monitor Finances

Another one of the biggest reasons for start-up failure is running out of money. It might be simple to track keep of your finances at the early stages but as you grow, it becomes easy to lose track of the money coming in and going out of the business. Hiring an accountant or investing in an accounting software can end up saving your business in ways you may not even anticipate.

5. Hire the Right People

The single most important success factor for a company is the team. To hire the right people, you need to first assess your strengths and identify the gaps. Find skillsets that complement yours and invest in your people. Identify your teams’ personal objectives and adapt their roles as they learn and grow. Maintaining a motivated, committed team is essential to the success of your business. A great idea has no chance if the right team isn’t in place to deliver it.