Top 10 tips for small business success - Business Works
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Top 10 tips for small business success

Claire Wood, founder, Soup-urb C laire Wood launched Soup-urb, an eclectic and retro café brand in Tunbridge Wells, in 2011. In 2012, a new branch was opened in Brighton and Soup-urb was the proud winner of the 'Best New Business' category in the Kent & Sussex Business Excellence Awards. Here, Claire offers her top ten tips to successfully launch a new business.

Setting up your own business is hugely rewarding; knowing that you created it from the bottom up makes any success all the more satisfying. But before that success comes a huge amount of hard work and a whole host of new challenges which take you entirely out of your comfort zone. When starting Soup-urb, as a chef I was suddenly presented with questions relating to a range of issues including branding, employment procedures and taxes! So, almost two years since launching Soup-urb these are the most useful tips that Iíve learnt along the way ...

  1. Plan: Starting with a good business plan is essential. A written record of your goals and how to achieve them will keep you on track when it feels that thereís too much to do! Itís also a good idea to show this plan to others for feedback, preferably people that have set up their own business before. This will ensure that your timings and aims are realistic.
  2. Brand identity: Set clear criteria so that you maintain a brand identity reflected throughout your business. In a café context, branding should be consistent from your menu to the interior decoration. When collaborating with designers to come up with the branding mood boards are very useful to offer a visual presentation of your tastes and ideas.
  3. Suppliers: Be loyal to your suppliers Ė find good ones and then stick with them. This is particularly relevant for catering where the quality of your supplies have such a huge impact on your end product, but is essentially true for all kinds of business. Itís far easier to deal with people that youíve built a rapport with and that you trust.
  4. Recruitment: Build a team, lead by example and empower staff to take some responsibility. This is actually easier when you start a new business as the staff will really see the impact theyíre having as the business grows. Keep everyone up to date with developments to promote team spirit.
  5. Standards: Know yourself how to achieve the standards that you want in all areas, and donít compromise! From a catering point of view, if you donít know how to make the perfect cake, then learn how!
  6. Accounts: Donít try to do your accounts ... unless youíre an accountant! This is one area that should definitely be left to an expert!
  7. Social media: Use social networking as much as you can Ė itís quick, free and effective marketing! We use both Twitter and Facebook regularly to announce menu changes, competitions and news. And donít forget to advertise your Facebook page address and your twitter handle so that customers can get involved.
  8. Confidence: Donít worry about the competition Ė concentrate on your own product. Our Brighton café is surrounded by other food and drink outlets, but fretting about the opposition is counter-productive. Itís far better to divert that energy into making your product and brand as unique as possible.
  9. Inspiration: This leads on from the previous point. Itís fine to look for inspiration but donít copy another operation because itís a success Ė itís already been done! Stick to your guns Ė be unique and sincere.
  10. Efficiency: Be efficient Ė invest in equipment that can save you time. Remember there are only so many hours in the day and you need to use those hours wisely. Look to automate basic tasks where possible and as in #4, donít be afraid to delegate to other members of staff.

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