How to start, grow and run a business professionally
- Register your business with the relevant authorities
You don’t want to be running a business illegally unless of course it’s an illegal venture trading some banned merchandise. In that case, this article is not for you.
Ensure you have registered your business either as a business name, a company or any other form of registration as required by law. Remember you will need these documents when applying for loans, seeking financing & applying for tenders and pre-qualifications.
- Get a business permit and other compliance permits as required.
Do not confuse a certificate of registration/incorporation with a business permit. Make sure to obtain a business permit from the local authority. Other compliance permits include MCSK license, NEMA license, practising certificate for professionals amongst others. Do your research and get your papers in order depending on the nature of your business.
- Have a website
In this day and age, a website is a must-have for any serious business. There are thousands of affordable web design companies and individuals out there, talk to one and get a professional website for your business. This will show professionalism and help people learn about your business, including details such as your address, contact details, physical location, your products and services just to mention a few.
- Official email address
Your email address should be from your domain. You do not want to be sending official communication to your clients via your Gmail. An official email, especially for small businesses will reassure your clients of your authenticity and seriousness. For Example, if your business website is www.howto.co.ke, your email address should look something like firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Physical address
This is important for businesses expecting walk-in clients. If this applies to your business, get a decent office in a clean and safe neighbourhood. Am sure you won’t close that deal if your clients get mugged or robbed on their way to your office. And you don’t have to break the bank for this, it doesn’t have to be in a cool, fancy or even an expensive neighbourhood. Luckily, these days there is the option of serviced office space for startups and small business.
- Online visibility
Get visible and active on social networks. A significant number of your potential clients spend their time there. By the way, if you didn’t know, this is a modern source of business leads and opportunities.
- Brand your business
Learn to conduct business the way big companies do it. You might be small and just starting but that’s not an excuse for being crafty. Issue a receipt for every payment, an invoice for every LPO, have a company seal and stamp, send all document in your official letterhead, have a business card with your details on it. As the saying goes, you have to stop scratching with chicken to fly with eagles.
- Never get casual with clients
Regardless of who your client is, never get casual or too personal or overly familiar. Dress appropriately for meetings with your clients; address them in the language and title they like being addressed in. Mind your email etiquette and your communication with your clients. Be it on text, social networks or even on WhatsApp. Keep it professional.
- Seek feedback and offer after sale support
These are some of the most important habits that every small business should cultivate. Whether negative or positive, feedback will help you get better every next time by improving and adjusting your products and services. After sale support will offer chances of cross-selling and upselling. If you master these two, your clients will keep coming back and recommending their friends and associates. Needless to say, your business will keep growing and thriving.
- Always file your tax returns with the Revenue Authority
These are not my words. Even Jesus Christ, considered by millions as the greatest teacher of the law, in one of His most popular teachings once declared that we should give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.