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Whether you’re just starting out or successfully running your own business, there’s plenty for you to worry about. According to the Small Business Association, 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first ten. You’re probably thinking, “and this is supposed to make me feel better?”

Well, actually, it is. Many of those businesses that failed could — and should — have succeeded if they had the right business model in place, one that focused on what is truly important when growing a small business. But many companies choose to overburden themselves with complicated policies and unnecessary structural components when what they really need to do is keep things simple. Focus on what is important to the customer, and make that your top priority.

Below, we’ve outlined the top five areas where small businesses should focus their efforts during their first few years. Keep it simple for now. Save the complicated stuff for after you’ve seen the sunny side of success.

Customer Service

According to a survey conducted by American Express, 78% of consumers have canceled or not made an intended purchase due to weak customer service. Customer service should be the number one priority of any business that is starting out, as it can truly make or break you. Great customer service will lend itself to market expansion through word-of-mouth and improves an online presence through positive reviews on Yelp or Google.

Without excellent customer service, your business has no reputation to speak of and thus does not motivate the consumer or the potential employee to dig any deeper. Put customers first, and your customer service will need no introduction

Market Expansion 

If there’s any one area where you should spend money right now, it is on expanding your market. Effective marketing is the key to increasing sales. But you may not have to break open the bank to do so. There are many smaller ways that you can expand your marketing efforts, such as partnering with other local businesses or with charitable organizations (which will also impact you positively on social media).

You can promote your opening in the newspaper (yes, some people still read it!) as well as online. You can send out promotions with your invoices. You can even offer free classes or workshops relating to your business and the services you offer. These are all also great ways to generate positive word-of-mouth, which is the best free marketing that anyone can ask for.

Online Presence

Increasing your online presence has much more to do with making the right moves and using technology efficiently than it has to do with spending money. Social media accounts are a great place to start. Build your brand through social media, and then begin tracking your brand mentions. Use a free service like Google Alerts to let you know if people are talking about your business online.

Engage with customers through replies on their reviews or commenting back on their Facebook posts to you. Increase interest by posting original content with a story behind it. Everyone loves a good story, so tailor your brand’s story into something that everyone wants to read about and see more of.

The Right Team 

Hire the absolute best people for your business and then figure out a way to keep them coming back every day, doing their best work, for you. This can be as simple as leading with transparency, cultivating an environment of positive adult culture at work, and making time to build those personal relationships with individual staff members.

Keep in mind that it’s much easier to train people with the right mindset than to rid someone of a poor mindset. Only take on those employees that have a special way of thinking that aligns with your business model. Because once you have the best team behind you, your business will be able to get itself off the ground in no time.

Be the Best You for Your Business 

With you, there would be no business. It’s incredibly important, especially in this day and age of burnout and high-stress levels, that you take time to focus on your own health and well-being as you create and grow your dream company. Know that the journey will be a long, sometimes slow, and often difficult one, but the rewards you can reap are worth it.

Just don’t wait until “the end” because when you have your own business, you should know that there is no end. The workday never has to stop, yet it must. You are human. Learn how to delegate, don’t spread yourself too thin, and remember that when you’re at your best, the rest of the business can be at its best.

Want to hear more about how small (and medium, and large) businesses can stay successful? Continue reading on our blog. Or contact us directly today. We understand your need to keep things simple, and we’ll make finding the right insurance policies just as simple.