How to Be A Successful Small Business Owner: a To-Do List

Small business management is no easy task. There are so many small decisions to make every day that it can be hard to know which ones really matter and which ones don't. It's important to remember that even small details, such as choosing the right color of Post-it note for your desk, can have an impact on how successful you are as a small business owner. That being said, there are some tasks that should be done daily in order to keep your small business running smoothly according to your business plan and ensure success!

How to Be A Successful Small Business Owner: a To-Do List

Small business management is no easy task. There are so many small decisions to make every day that it can be hard to know which ones really matter and which ones don't. It's important to remember that even small details, such as choosing the right color of Post-it note for your desk, can have an impact on how successful you are as a small business owner. That being said, there are some tasks that should be done daily in order to keep your small business running smoothly according to your business plan and ensure success!

Things to do today? Get up. Survive. Go back to bed. I know I’ve felt like that. So here’s my to-do list for your business that’ll mean you don’t just survive, you smash it.

Resolutions generally mean equal procrastination, for me at least. So, this is the “eat the dinosaur one spoonful at a time” to-do list that’ll make a difference to you and your business. I do them at Futrli now and they’ve made a difference to me.

1. Customer feedback is essential.
2. Do 360º feedback with your team.
3. Numbers equal power.
4. Social media posting….
5. Set a simple quarterly strategy with a premortem.
6. Check in with your team leads every week.
7. Competitor analysis review every month.


1. Customer feedback is essential.

Book at least 15 minutes in your calendar to get customer feedback every week. You are kidding yourself if you don’t ask your customers what they think of your product or service; what they are (actually) willing to pay for it; what their initial buying journey was, what their continued buying journey looks like; what they would change about your product or service; what they love about it, and so on.  Create a set of standard questions on survey software such as survey monkey and fill it in as you ask them the questions. It’s fun, not scary, and will challenge every assumption you have made over the years.

2. Do 360º feedback with your team.

Twice a year 6 of my team across the business answer 2 questions anonymously via an online survey. They are encouraged to list 3 points under each question heading. The questions are:

What have you noticed about me? (Generally positive)
What would you like to see more of? (Generally constructive)

The mirror back at yourself is so important I’ve found. Off the back of it, I have an open “Who am I?” The document has a bio, my responsibilities, KPIs, favorite haunts, flaws, how to work with me, communication preferences, meeting preferences, and regular meetings I attend. It’s an exercise I’d try first with your leadership team and then roll out across your business. It’s a great way to bubble up communication blockages and misunderstandings, which are likely to be the root cause of the majority of any organizations issues.

3. Numbers equal power.

Finance doesn’t have to be boring or scary. If you really are terrified or bored of your “numbers” then get a bookkeeper to do the day-to-day admin (in a cloud accounting package!). But you must understand the basics. If you search for the category “small business basics” in the blog, there are some 101s that will get you going. You’ve invested time, money, stress, and sleep into your business, not knowing your numbers and crucially, why they are what they are today as well as what they are predicted to be in the future is crazy. You wouldn’t drive a car without a steering wheel.

Your numbers and predicted numbers especially, give you power. Power to test our decisions before you make them.

Every single decision at Futrli whether the top of the funnel (ie getting more customers) or operations, such as hiring new staff, moving offices, when is all tested out in our forecast prediction before we make that decision. Try before you buy effectively.  

And just because you may have a partner or co-founder who “does the numbers” that’s no excuse. Honestly, get in there, ask questions, don’t feel stupid as there is no stupid question. We have 5 in our chief team with different numbers comfort levels, but every single one of us now has the confidence to challenge our forecast as we’ve learned to understand it completely.

  • Groundwork: What are YOUR numbers. Define your financial and non-financial metrics and keep them simple. But USE them to make decisions. I’ll be writing a post to go through our next quarter.
  • Daily: Bookkeeping - make sure invoices and bills are in your cloud accounting software (use Receiptbank to automate this) and do your bank reconciliation. I used to do it on my phone over coffee in the days before I had a wonderful finance team.
  • Weekly/Monthly (depending on the volume of data): Review your funnel metrics and non-financial KPIs. I do this weekly as we have so many moving parts, but definitely review them before you review the financial forecast prediction.
  • Weekly/Monthly (depending on predicted cash flow): Review financial forecast prediction with your team. How did you track against your actual performance? Why? Test out any decisions you want to make in it to see the cash impact ahead of time.
  • Review your expenses - disused subscriptions, for example, will add up and can be difficult to keep track of when your team grows.
  • Review your bills - keep an eye on when your insurances and policies need updating and remember to see if you’re getting good value. Are similar services available with a better deal?
  • How did this month’s revenue stack up against last month’s, or this time last year? Do you know why it was less/more?
  • How your inventory served you this month. Too much? Too little? Assessing the factors that impact your stock will allow you to optimize your purchasing going forward. Having too much stock leads your cash flow tied up and can cause you problems if the stock isn’t moving. Having too little stock will limit your ability to capitalize on unexpected opportunities.

When I had my gastropub back in the day, I did this too, and with clear oversight, quadrupled turnover and increased gross profit by 15% to 70%. The data was more difficult to pull together then, and so much more can be automated now. Know those numbers and you’ll get to your exit or dream much quicker than if you don’t.

4. Social media posting….

Whether this is for your business, or for your personal branding, reach out on social media daily. Some days this can be a post, some days it’ll be making a few connections and following a few accounts, other days it can be messaging people in the industry, or commenting on a handful of posts. Everything you do helps build recognition and attachment to your brand, as well as building awareness with new faces.

And, it’s free. It takes time but dedicating half an hour every day is more than enough to build a steadily increasing following.

5. Set a simple quarterly strategy with a premortem.

If you look to the end of the quarter, what do you want to have achieved? That’s a post-mortem. What will be the blockages in the road that you can predict? Work your way back through the steps you’d need to take to get to that success state and assess whether they are feasible or not. We all want 1,000,000 customers but realistically how would we do that in 3 months. Unlikely right?! Be realistic, SWOT with your team, and stick to 3-5 objectives for your business. Then break down what each team in the business is going to do to get you there.

6. Check in with your team leads every week.

For projects

Once you’ve set your strategy, this needs to be broken down into projects with your team leads. Progress should be tracked and RAG’d (Red, Amber Green) weekly. We also communicate the status of our quarterly objectives in line with these RAG meetings, monthly to the wider company.

For people

It’s important to also check in on your people. If you have a solid feedback loop communication should flow easily from employee to Team Lead, to superior, and back down. Did any problems come up? Any successes to celebrate? It can be easy to become disconnected from your team. If an employee needs congratulation, you should know. If a blocker has come up during the week, you should know.

Of course, these are things you should aim to hear about as soon as they happen. But, booking in a weekly check-in will ensure that nothing is missed.

7. Competitor analysis review every month.

When you’re busy every day, it can be easy to get caught in your own bubble. You need to remain competitive in your industry, so mystery shop, try out their services, and report back. Many heads are better than one, so get your company involved with tactics and strategies to ensure you always have the leading edge.

Get business advice here

Our blog holds tips, how to’s and general business advice.

Accountants

5 ways to sell your clients on advisory services

Accountancy firms need to act quickly to ensure that they offer their clients a range of advisory services, move with new trends, and increase revenue sources.

This is some text inside of a div block.

Heading

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat.

Accountants

5 ways to sell your clients on advisory services

Accountancy firms need to act quickly to ensure that they offer their clients a range of advisory services, move with new trends, and increase revenue sources.

Small Businesses

How to prepare your small business for MTD (Making Tax Digital)

Find out what MTD for ITSA means for you and how to MTD-proof your small business.

Futrli News

Futrli has been acquired by Sage!

Sage's acquisition of Futrli is part of its continued strategic approach to support accountants from proposal to advisory services.

Business

What is a Purchase Order (PO) Number? Everything you need to know

PO Numbers are a crucial detail required for Purchase Orders and Invoices, helping identify and manage your customers purchase journey.

Finance

Total Cost: Formula, Definition & Examples

Identifying your Total Cost can be crucial in understanding your business's profitability. Learn how to properly evaluate your Total Cost performance.

Business

Break-Even Point: Definition, Formula & Examples

Understanding the Break-Even Point Formula will help your business manage its costs and improve your financial future. Find out more!

Finance

Interim Invoice: Definition, Examples, and How to Use

An Interim Invoice is when you're requesting a partial payment, often for a partial delivery of a service or instalments on a large project. Click to learn more!

Business

What is a MIS Report? Meaning, Types & Examples

MIS Report stands for Management Information Systems, it's an encompassing term for a set of reports that allow the business functions to be analyzed.

Business

What Is Credit Control? Definition, Process & Procedures

Credit Control is the process of extending credit to make sales or services more attractive to a customer which in turn can increase sales numbers.

Finance

The Prudence Concept In Accounting | Definition & Guide

Prudence concept is a concept of accounting that increases the trustworthiness of figures reported in the financial statements of a business. Click to learn more!

Business

What Is A Close Company? Definition & Rules

A close company is a UK-based business where 5 or fewer individual participators have ownership or control over the business. Read on to learn more!

Forecasting

What is the Sortino Ratio & How to Calculate It

The Sortino Ratio is a way to measure the return on investment by just looking at downside risk to better measure risk-adjusted returns.