How to run a business: essential tips for success

Published • 15/03/2024 | Updated • 15/03/2024


How to run a business: essential tips for success

Published • 15/03/2024 | Updated • 15/03/2024


Running your own business can be an exciting if challenging endeavour – whether you’ve got your sights set on building a nationally recognised brand, or simply want to supplement your primary source of income with a modest money-maker on the side. 

So far, your focus will have been on how to start a business. You’ll have planned how to best use your budget, become familiar with legal requirements for starting a small business, and maybe asked friends and family for their opinion on business name ideas.

Now, having overcome those initial hurdles, you’ve got the task of actually running your own business for hopefully many years to come. And by “running” we mean not just maintaining revenues, but ensuring your enterprise thrives and grows as much as possible.

Taking a practical approach can maximise your chances of long-term business success. And that’s where this guide comes in. This is a deep dive into effectively managing your business to maximise success, whether you’re focusing on how to make money from home or you’ve set up your own food and drink venue.

Always remember that having the right tech in place can make a huge difference for maintaining a successful enterprise, even if you have a tight budget. You can keep the cost of running a business down with a SumUp One subscription, which provides discounted fees, discounted hardware and payouts guaranteed by 7am the next day.

The 3 foundational pillars for running your own business

When thinking about how to run a business successfully, the main factors to consider about can be divided into two general categories:

  • The initial, foundational pillars for success

  • The ongoing factors for success

In this section, we’ll talk through those foundational pillars that should be in place from the start, setting you up for future success.

1. Have a business plan in place

Business plans aren’t just for when you’re applying for a loan or pitching for investment. It’s still important to draw up a business plan even if you’ve got no intention of applying for outside funding, and nobody but you will ever read the plan. You should also make time to create one even if your business is already underway.

That’s because your business plan is your roadmap to success, laying out how your enterprise will operate and how you intend to progress. If you’ve never created one before and are wondering how to write a business plan, don’t worry: it’s pretty straightforward.

A typical business plan template will feature the following sections:

  • An executive summary, which is where you can really cement your vision by writing a concise overview of your business, why it exists, and why you expect to be successful.

  • The business opportunities you feel you can take advantage of through your enterprise, including products/services you might be able to offer further along your journey as revenues increase.

  • Your organisational structure, if you have partners or staff and you need to set out what everybody’s specific responsibilities will be.

  • A breakdown of your most successful competitors, who they are, how their offerings differ from yours, and how you differentiate yourself.

  • Your marketing strategy, outlining the various methods and platforms you can use to publicise your business, from social media posts to blogs to paid-for advertisements.

  • Financial details, including what your monthly or annual budget is, how much you expect to spend on software and hardware, what you anticipate each customer might typically spend on your products and services, and how these numbers may increase over time.

Remember, your business plan isn’t a one-off, set-in-stone proposition that never changes. When planning how to run a business successfully, the dynamic nature of the enterprise needs to be at the front of your mind, and you should make time to revisit the plan and update it periodically to reflect how your business looks at any given moment.

2. Have well-defined KPIs

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, provide a way to gauge how successfully your business is meeting specific goals. In other words, these are the business milestones you’re aiming to reach, and there may be different KPIs for different aspects of your business.

Say you’ve been brainstorming low cost high profit business ideas and have settled on the idea you want to make a reality. One set of KPIs may relate to the profits themselves, with projected targets set for the next 12 months. Another set of KPIs may relate to your Instagram page, and hitting a certain follower count in a year.

Your KPI goals should ideally fit the SMART criteria, which means they should be: 

  • Specific – so, rather than simply aiming for more people to visit your website, you’ll want to aim for a minimum number of visitors in a certain timeframe.

  • Measurable – you’ll need to be able to tell when a KPI has been achieved, whether that’s in terms of number of products sold or number of five-star Google Reviews.

  • Achievable – ambition is great but your KPIs need to be realistically viable, so there’s not much sense in making, say, a 50% surge in sales as your benchmark for the coming month.

  • Relevant – your KPIs need to directly benefit your bottom line, so if you’re running a B2B marketing agency, increasing your follower count on Facebook may not be as relevant as getting more engagement on LinkedIn.

  • Time-bound – your metrics need to be measurable within a set timeframe, or you’ll risk wasting resources and money.

Keep track of sales KPIs

If you’re running a physical store or eatery, installing Point of Sale Lite by SumUp means you can easily track your sales in real time. It also lets you access your sales history so you’re always on top of your business goals.

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3. Understand your business risks and rewards

All small business ideas will carry elements of risk, as well as the possibilities of huge rewards. Generally speaking, business risks include:

  • Lower than expected sales of products and services

  • Unexpected rise in overheads

  • Regulatory risks

  • Cash flow interruptions

  • Stress

  • Employee dissatisfaction

Typical business rewards include:

  • Increased revenues and profits

  • Decreased overheads

  • Boosted employee morale

  • Greater brand exposure

  • Greater market share

Successfully running your own business will require an ongoing awareness of the risk/reward ratios so that you can make the most informed judgement calls at every turn. These ratios will depend very much on your precise circumstances and the nature of your enterprise.

For example, if you have a large starting budget – perhaps thanks to small business crowdfunding or investment from relatives – then your ‘risk appetite’ might be relatively large. You might be happy to pay for advertising, weighing the reward of increased revenues against the risk that your ads won’t translate into sales.

Or, say you brainstormed side hustle ideas and launched your own online store to generate a secondary income from selling handmade pottery items. Pivoting to an additional product category represents a risk, as you’ll be investing in new materials and spending time on these new products without knowing if they’ll be as popular.

However, there’s the potential reward of your new category becoming a success, selling like hot cakes, boosting your profits and your brand.

Taking the time to objectively consider all such business decisions is key to your success as an entrepreneur, whether you’ve just started or you’re two years in.

Ongoing factors for successfully running a business

We’ve looked at the core elements that should be in place as early in your business journey as possible. But when considering how to run a successful business long term, you’ll also need to think about a number of other factors. These include:

  • Proactive customer service

  • Keeping track of your accounts

  • Nurturing your team

  • Maintaining the right pricing strategy

  • Effective marketing

  • Taking advantage of technology

Proactive customer service

When thinking about how to run a successful business, the importance of good customer service cannot be overstated. This isn’t just about how you directly interact with customers, but rather the entire customer experience offered by your business.

Surveys have highlighted how different aspects of customer experience can affect revenue generation for companies.

For example, of the people recently polled by marketing design company Linearity, 88% said they would be unlikely to return to a website if they found it frustrating to use, and 76% would be more likely to return to a site if it was optimised for mobile use. The company also found that slow loading times are a key reason why customers abandon purchases.

Meanwhile, a survey by customer retention management company HubSpot has found that 69% of consumers regard quick response times as the hallmark of great customer service. 

So, with all of this in mind, let’s run through some of the best practices for providing the best possible customer experience when successfully running your own business.

Ensure your website is optimised

As the statistics by Linearity emphasise, customers these days expect businesses to have user-friendly, fast-loading websites that can be visited on the go. This is a vital part of the customer experience, and your business will suffer if your website isn’t designed to be seamless to use.

If you’re selling products to the public, the good news is you can quickly launch an intuitive, customer-friendly, mobile-optimised online store with no coding or design skills required.

But if, say, you’re a B2B business and want a website that showcases your case studies and full range of services, it may be worth hiring experienced designers and user experience specialists if you lack the expertise yourself.

Provide multiple communication channels

It’s important to make it easy for customers to get in touch with you, both for practical purposes and for ensuring your business looks reputable and trustworthy. More than one method is ideal – you might provide a phone number, email address, and/or take queries and requests via social media.

As we discussed earlier in the section on email marketing, having clear, friendly, and consistent communication with existing and prospective customers can also help your business thrive. Depending on the type of business you have, you may also want to prompt customers for feedback, and to leave reviews on sites like Trustpilot, Google and CheckaTrade.

Ensure your team can handle customers

If you have staff who interact with customers, it’s essential they’re able to handle any issues that come their way. This means your employees must have a thorough understanding of your business, so they can quickly and accurately field queries if you’re not on hand. 

It may be worth having daily or weekly briefings with the team to ensure they’re fully aware of current business processes and issues.

Provide maximum convenience for customers

The easier you make life for your customers, the more likely they are to feel satisfied with business transactions and to come back in the future, boosting your business success.

For example, entrepreneurs exploring how to make money online by running online stores may want to invest in installing live chatbots, so that customers can get answers to their questions at any time of day or night. Or, if you meet customers face-to-face – perhaps because you run a street food stall or provide handyperson services – you can carry a portable card reader so people can buy from you without having to worry about having cash to hand.

Let customers pay with their iPhones

As well as offering up a card reader, you ramp up the convenience factor even more by letting your customers pay using their iPhones. SumUp’s Tap to Pay on iPhone costs nothing to set up and has no monthly fees.

Learn more

Keeping track of your accounts

It’s not exactly the most enjoyable aspect of running your own business, but there’s no getting away from it: there will be financial paperwork, and lots of it. This will ensure you will pay the correct amounts of income tax, National Insurance, VAT and corporation tax (if you’re a limited company) every year.  

You may well choose to hire an accountant to manage your tax calculations and submit your annual tax returns. This may be especially useful if you’re setting up a limited company, which requires more complex accounting.

But even if you have an accountant, you’ll need to be a diligent bookkeeper. You might also want to draw up cash flow statements on a periodic basis.

Small business bookkeeping

Bookkeeping for small businesses isn’t complicated, but this vital process of recording the financial transactions of your business does require attention to detail.

If you’re a sole trader or partnership, you must keep financial records for at least five years after the tax return submission of a given tax year. If your business is a limited company, it’s six years.

This means retaining receipts, invoices, statements and any other records relating to:

  • Stock and equipment purchased by the business

  • Everything the business earns

  • Overhead expenses such as fuel and rent

  • Details of other expenses like legal costs, marketing costs, and money spent on staff events

  • Payments to your staff, if any

  • Any debts accrued by the business

Bookkeeping is far more manageable if you do it regularly, rather than allowing months to elapse, and data to pile up. So, set aside a few hours every week or few weeks to record all transactions. You can simply use a spreadsheet, although you may find it easier to use specialised bookkeeping software which will automatically pull in data from your business account.

All physical receipts, for example relating to products purchases or business-related travel, should be kept in a safe place. 

Another reason you should keep detailed, accurate records is that many business expenses can be deducted from your annual profit, thereby reducing your tax bill. Such allowable expenses include those relating to:

  • Travel, such as train and bus fares, parking costs and fuel bills 

  • Business premises, such as rent and utility bills

  • A proportion of the bills, including mortgage and rent payments, if you work from home

  • Business-related hardware and software, including phone bills and subscription-based software

  • Clothing, if you wear a work uniform

  • Stock and raw materials

  • Advertising and marketing

  • Business-related training courses

  • Staff wages and benefits

Cash flow statements

Regardless of what kind of enterprise you have – whether it’s a passion project based on creative ways to make money or it simply serves the purpose of bringing in an income – you’ll need a consistent awareness of your finances to make key decisions like when to invest in new tools and when to cut back on spending.

One of the best ways to keep on top of it all is by drawing up a cash flow statement, perhaps on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Each statement will give you a useful overview of how much money has been entering and leaving the business, allowing you to make informed decisions on how to steer operations going forwards.

While you can make use of specialist bookkeeping software to automatically generate cash flow statements, doing it manually is fairly straightforward for many small businesses.

You begin by looking at the opening balance, which is the amount of cash in your business account at the start of the time period in question. You then calculate the total in-comings and outgoings – in other words, the cash flows – relating to:

  • Operating activities – this includes money generated by your business, such as from selling goods and providing services, and money spent on salaries and suppliers

  • Investing activities – in other words, money involved in the purchase and sale of assets like property and equipment, or from acquiring or selling another business

  • Financing activities – this refers to the net amount of funding during the accounting period, for example income received from selling stocks and equity in the business, and outgoings related to paying debts and dividends

These calculations will provide you with up-to-date insights into how your company is functioning. While you may instinctively be aiming for positive cash flow, which means more money coming in than going out, it’s worth remembering that negative cash flow can be part and parcel of successfully running a business.

For example, a business owner may decide to invest money in new premises or equipment, which will cause negative cash flow in a particular accounting period, but with the aim of a larger, positive cash flow in the future.

Track your finances 24/7

The SumUp online business account provides instant access to your finances whenever you need it. As well as putting key information at your fingertips, it also provides free, unlimited UK bank transfers and a free Mastercard for day-to-day business expenses.

Open your free business account

Nurturing your team

When starting a business, you may well feel a natural inclination to operate the whole thing yourself. After all, it’s your baby, and money may be tight in the early days, meaning that hiring staff seems to be a luxury you can’t afford.

However, even the most small-scale business ideas from home have the potential to grow to the point where taking on employees becomes a necessary expense. This is a process that shouldn’t be rushed, because you’ll want to ensure your staff are the right fit for your business – both in terms of how you operate and your overall goals.

As with so many aspects of running your own business, taking a pragmatic, methodical approach makes hiring and nurturing your staff a lot easier.

Be aware of your “employer branding”

In today’s hyper-competitive jobs marketplace, the branding of a business can be as important for attracting employees as for attracting customers. The term “employer branding” refers to the image your business projects to prospective staff members, and can encompass several factors, including:

  • How your business presents itself on social media, particularly with regards to its values and working environment

  • How your business is involved in the local community, for example through sponsorships, support for good causes and community initiatives

  • The “mission” or driving vision of your business, which can be as grand as developing new forms of technology or as modest as simply providing the lowest-price services in a competitive market

  • The learning and development opportunities you can provide employees, whether informally through a job role or formally through the sponsorship of educational courses

Such factors can be just as important as the salary when it comes to attracting talent to your business.

Post the right job ads

When pondering how to hire employees, you’ll have plenty of methods to choose from – from using the services of recruitment agencies, to directly posting your own adverts on job marketplace sites online.

Whichever way you choose to progress, the job description needs to be worded very carefully, following these guidelines:

  • Use easily recognisable job titles, and steer clear of ones that are vague or overly playful and gimmicky (a call for a “graphic design ninja” probably won’t be taken seriously by quality candidates)

  • Clearly list the key responsibilities of the role, leaning into specifics

  • Clearly list the skills and expertise required, again leaning into specifics rather than vague notions of being able to solve problems or meet deadlines

  • Use diverse and inclusive language

  • Write clearly, avoiding obscure jargon

A job description should also include your “employer value proposition”, which is a summary of what your business stands for, what your goals are, and why your culture might be attractive to new recruits. You can take inspiration by checking out the “About” tabs on different companies’ LinkedIn pages.

Cultivate a positive working environment

Employee retention has become a major talking point in recent years, with businesses having greater awareness of the importance of providing a healthy, nurturing working environment for their teams.

Of course, the details here will depend on your business. Workplace practices that will benefit an office-based business will be very different to those which will galvanise staff in a shop, restaurant or bar.

That said, there are some key principles that should be applied by anyone running a business with employees:

  • Set clear expectations for each staff member, so there’s no risk of confusion regarding who should do what

  • Encourage open communication and close collaboration, perhaps utilising cloud-based communications platforms like Slack and Monday so that colleagues can clearly delegate tasks, tick off to-do lists, and avoid siloes

  • Reward achievements, even if this simply means providing verbal or written acknowledgement of jobs well done

  • Provide opportunities for socialising, perhaps arranging for weekly or monthly drinks or lunches, and parties to mark events like Christmas

Make life easier for staff with POS Pro

Providing the right technology can help create a more positive and productive workplace culture. If you’re running a physical retailer, SumUp’s Point of Sale Pro allows staff to effortlessly itemise product inventories, stay on top of restocking, and take payments.

Learn more about POS Pro for retail

Maintaining the right pricing strategy

The question of how to price a product or service is central to the success of any business. Getting your pricing strategy right will not only ensure you get the best possible profit margin, but will also correctly position your brand in the marketplace and attract your target customers.

Your pricing strategies may well evolve over months and years. This can reflect changes in your range of products and services – for example, you may pivot from providing entry-level items to more deluxe products commanding higher prices.

You may also adopt different pricing strategies in line with new marketing strategies, or to keep up with rival businesses. Here are some of the most prominent strategies you may want to employ when running your own business.

Cost-plus pricing

This has the advantage of being the most straightforward and intuitive pricing strategy. You simply calculate how much it costs to provide a product or service, and add a percentage to this cost to determine the selling price.

Cost-plus pricing is determined purely by the internal processes of your business, rather than outside influences. This can be an appealing approach for new entrepreneurs eager to ensure a profit on every sale, or for businesses specialising in unusual or bespoke products with few competitors.

Competitive pricing

Unlike cost-plus pricing, this strategy is very outward-facing, and is dictated by the current market going rate for your products and services. It can be a good strategy if you’re entering a very crowded market, allowing you to potentially undercut your rivals or clearly position yourself as the higher-end alternative.

Dynamic pricing

Also known as surge pricing, this strategy is all about adapting to consumer demand. Think of how hotels, airlines and rideshare apps can suddenly charge more during peak times.

If you’re a small business, rather than an algorithm-fuelled giant like Uber or Trivago, dynamic pricing should be deployed with caution, as it can make you look inconsistent or unreliable.

Skimming pricing

This is the practice of setting a very high price when entering a market, then reducing the price as initial hype and demand wears off. It can be a good strategy if you’re launching a new product line to coincide with a cultural event, such as a holiday or festival.

Penetration pricing

This is the flip-side to skimming, where you charge the lowest possible price to start with. In other words, it’s the time-honoured “introductory price” approach, which can work for all kinds of products.

You can also adopt this strategy when working out how to price a service like copywriting or social media marketing, perhaps offering to work for a new client at a discounted rate to start with, and then reverting to the normal rate if they’re happy with the results.

High-low pricing

This is a fancy way of referring to putting on a sale – that is to say, dramatically slashing prices, perhaps to get rid of stock that’s been hanging around too long, or to attract customers during peak shopping periods like “Black Friday”.

Value-based pricing

This is a nuanced strategy where your products and services are priced depending on what customers and clients are willing to pay. It’s based more on perceived quality than tangible attributes like production costs and the market going rate, and can be a good fit for businesses selling extremely high-end, bespoke and niche products.

Economy pricing

This strategy will see a business offer low prices on an ongoing basis, effectively settling into the budget end of a particular sector. If you’re exploring low cost business ideas, you may be in a good position to utilise economy pricing and turn a solid profit.

Effective marketing

Rolling out a marketing strategy for small business success is one of the most effective ways to ensure your enterprise has longevity.

Remember, there’s no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to marketing, and different business types will require different strategies. Knowing how to do a competitor analysis can give you some valuable pointers on which promotional strategies might work for your enterprise type.

You should look into direct competitors, who specialise in near-identical types of services and products, and indirect competitors, who inhabit the same general sector

Say you’re interested in online business ideas and set up a graphic design agency. Your direct competitors are other graphic designers, while indirect competitors may include web development, marketing and full-service digital agencies.

When it comes to how to do market research for a small business, a search engine like Google is your best friend. Looking up search terms related to your products and services should provide you with an instant list of both direct and indirect competitors. Periodically keep tabs on how each business presents itself to customers, by assessing:

  • Its website – how does it describe itself on its “about” page, does it have a formal or casual tone, does it have a regularly updated blog, does it have details on the staff?

  • Its use of social media – which specific platforms does it post on, does it post images and/or videos, what hashtags does it use, do people engage with its content by adding comments and/or becoming followers?

  • Whether it employs particular promotional tactics such as providing discounts or giving customers the option of purchasing gift cards

  • Whether it pays for exposure, for example through sponsored posts or collaborations with online influencers

Doing this reconnaissance of what rival businesses are up to will give you a foundation for building your own marketing plan. You can then utilise any number of the following approaches.

Social media marketing

Back in the pre-digital age, spreading the word about your brand almost always necessitated investing a lot of money on advertising campaigns, but thanks to social media you can successfully reach out to potential customers anywhere in the world without necessarily spending a penny.

When you consider that Instagram alone has more than one billion active monthly users, and that an estimated 90% of users follow at least one business account, the potential of such platforms for marketing is clear.

When it comes to how to use social media for small business success, there are two approaches you can take: organic and paid.

Organic social media marketing

Organic social content is anything you post on platforms for free – in other words, without paying money to increase exposure and engagement

Almost every kind of enterprise, from casual hobbies that make money on the side to full-scale shops and restaurants, will benefit from having an organic social strategy. That’s because posting organic content allows you to do all of the following, no matter how limited your budget:

  • Establish your brand by providing information in your own distinctive voice

  • Forge a rapport with customers and prospective customers

  • Directly advertise products and services

Where you post your organic content will depend on what kind of products and services you offer.

For example, if your business is based on things to make and sell, visual platforms like Instagram and TikTok would be a perfect fit. On these sites you can post attractive photos and videos of your wares, highlighting the high quality, artisanal nature of your brand, together with relevant hashtags to draw in new followers.

On the other hand, if you specialise in B2B services like copywriting, design or coding, then LinkedIn and X (formerly known as Twitter) would be more natural avenues for communicating with audiences.  

Given how crowded and “noisy” social media platforms are, being creative and inventive with your organic content is important – even if your business isn’t itself particularly creative in nature. For example, if you’re running a domestic cleaning business, you might post fun cleaning hints and tips videos on Instagram Reels, or soundtrack them with songs that are going viral on TikTok.

Organic social advantages

Organic social disadvantages

Doesn’t require extra investment (beyond the cost of making videos and so on)

Requires patience and perseverance, as you’ll need to post good content over a long period of time to build followers

Makes your business look active and engaged

Limited reach, being bound up with the platform’s algorithm

Cultivates high quality followers (in other words, people who have a genuine interest in your business)

Social media platforms are liable to change their algorithms, meaning your organic engagement can fluctuate without your input

Forging a rapport can help maximise customer retention

Paid social media marketing

Paid social is, quite simply, content which you pay the platforms to promote more heavily to their users.  

Social platforms make it easy to select exactly what kinds of paid content you want to push, such as single-image ads or organic videos you want to promote beyond your existing followers. You can then select how much you’re willing to spend and what result you’re after, such as increasing engagement or boosting follower count.

Paid social content can be targeted to specific demographics on the different platforms, enabling you to break free from the organic algorithm and potentially reach the eyes and ears of people who might otherwise never come across your content.

Paid social advantages

Paid social disadvantages

Can bring much more rapid results in terms of engagement, followers and reach than organic content

Can be expensive over time

Lets you engage with non-followers more easily

Content marked as “sponsored” or otherwise regarded as advertisements risks being seen as inauthentic and too “salesy” compared to organic content

Lets you target specific demographics

Ultimately, you may find that the best approach for long term social success is to utilise both approaches.

Organic posts should be your daily or weekly “bread and butter” content, making your business look dynamic and allowing you to maintain a presence on the radar of customers and followers. You can then invest in occasional paid content as part of a limited lead generation drive, or to draw attention to discounted prices or a special event.

Remember that you can also leverage social media to take payments from customers. By sharing SumUp’s Payment Links through social media, you’ll give customers the convenient option of paying securely in seconds.

Search marketing

Depending on your business type, you may not have to think about marketing yourself on search engines like Google and Bing. For example, if you’re interested in how to make money on the side by providing handyperson services, you might successfully advertise on marketplaces like Taskrabbit and Airtasker, and have no other web presence.

However, if you do have your own website, say an online store, then you should bump your position up in Google and Bing rankings through search engine optimisation, or SEO

This means your website should include words and phrases that people are searching for. If you run a dropshipping store for toys, relevant short keywords for your business may include “toys”, “toddler toys” and “action figures”.

Short keywords are popular, but so generic that you’ll struggle to rank highly on a search engine amid other businesses in your sector. On the other hand, long-tail keywords, such as “dinosaur toys for young girls” or “stegosaurus soft toys for 3 year olds” will make you stand out. 

Researching the best keywords for your site is an ongoing process when running your own business, since they may well change with passing trends. You can pay for keyword research software like Ahrefs and Semrush, but if your budget is tight you can try the following tactics to determine what terms you need to include on your site:

  • See which businesses currently rank highly for relevant short keywords, and carefully look through their websites to see what other phrases are peppered through their content

  • Enter short keywords into Google or Bing and see what autocomplete suggestions come up

  • Check the “People also ask” and related search suggestions for short keywords

Keywords should be included throughout your website, especially in page titles, opening paragraphs, in photo alt texts, and in the URLs of different pages.

Remember, though, that a fine balance needs to be struck with keywords. You may be penalised by search engines for cramming pages with keywords, so include them in a natural way that doesn’t disrupt the content. You may need to expand your site, creating more pages to accommodate keywords in a way that reads well.

To maximise your organic search visibility you should also pay attention to:

  • Website structure – your site should be easy to navigate with plenty of internal links and no duplicate content (which could be interpreted as spam by search engines).

  • Mobile-friendliness – your site should be optimised for smartphones, or you will be heavily penalised by search engines.

  • Quality content – search engines like sites which provide value to customers, with content such as genuinely informative blogs, user guides and other articles that go beyond mere “salesy” content.

Depending on how keen you are to rank as highly as possibly, you may also factor in the cost of paying search engines to appear prominently in the results for search terms when planning how to advertise your business.

Email marketing

When planning how to run a business long term, retaining existing customers is as important as attracting new ones. This is where email marketing for small business success comes in.

What makes it particularly effective is that your recipients are people who have either already bought from you, or willingly signed up to receive emails from you.

These days, marketing emails tend to have a chatty, informal tone. Depending on the nature of your business, you can even include irreverent humour. The point is to establish a virtual rapport with customers and potential customers, giving your business that personal touch which hopefully encourages sales.

Marketing emails can take any of the following forms:

  • Welcome emails, automatically dispatched when customers make their first purchase, telling them more about your business, your ethos and the range of products and services you provide

  • Newsletter emails, which are a great way to remind them of your business and showcase the latest additions to your product line and news relating to your brand

  • Sales emails, explicitly promoting particular products and services, including images of items, product descriptions, reviews and discount offers

  • Seasonal emails, dispatched to coincide with seasons and events like Christmas and Valentine’s Day

Businesses in the UK can only send marketing emails to people who have given consent. That is to say, the individuals have opted into receiving emails, perhaps by checking a box on your site, or they previously made an online purchase and did not uncheck a box which clearly signalled consent to receiving marketing emails.

Content marketing

Another weapon in your arsenal when running your own business is content marketing. This is about creating articles, videos, ebooks and graphics that provide value to potential customers. This has become important in a world where customers are increasingly savvy and cynical when it comes to traditional “hard sell” tactics. 

Blogs are a typical component of content marketing strategies, and are your chance to demonstrate your knowledge of your industry. If you’re running a web development company, you might write blogs on cybersecurity trends and the impact of the metaverse. Even businesses based on passive income ideas like dropshipping can benefit from blogs about the product categories being sold.

Blogs can be posted on your own business website, on your LinkedIn page, and websites relating to your business sector. Other popular kinds of content to consider when planning how to run a successful business include:

  • Infographics, presenting information on your sector, products and services in a visually stimulating way (there are plenty of free infographic templates available online)

  • Podcasts, where you and your colleagues or fellow entrepreneurs take deep dives into topics relating to your industry

  • YouTube videos, perhaps providing hints and tips, industry commentary, and other insights

Taking advantage of technology

Anyone who’s ever wondered how to run a successful business may be glad to know that the range of commercial tools available to entrepreneurs right now is unprecedented in scale and scope.

This software and hardware can make it easy to handle different aspects of a business, so it can be well worth taking advantage of what’s available – whether you’re only interested in how to start an online business or you currently own a café and looking for ways to make things run more smoothly.

Taking payments online

Clärchens Ballhaus, @claerchens_ballhaus

Today’s agile technology allows your business to take payments through a multitude of channels. For example, you can share Payment Links on social media, through text messages and via email, so your customers can pay you without having to create new accounts or download special software.

By subscribing to SumUp One, the membership plan offered by SumUp, you can also take advantage of discounted transaction fees, and feel safe in the knowledge that all payments will be with you by 7am the next day – even on weekends and public holidays.

Stress-free invoicing

If you’re a B2B business sending invoices to clients, there’s also tech to take all the hassle out of doing that. SumUp Invoices will automate the entire process, calculating what needs to be charged, customising the invoices with your branding, and keeping track of their status.

Streamlining order-taking

You can streamline processes in a physical shop or food and drink establishment with Point of Sale Lite, a simple interface which can take contactless card payments, organise your stock, and generally speed everything up for staff and customers alike.

You can even go down the self-service route with SumUp Kiosk, which allows customers to simply tap to order the items they want. Given that self-service orders tend to be significantly larger than verbal orders, this tool can generate larger revenues as well as cut wait times.

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