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Survival Tips for New SMEs in the Early Stages

Starting a business is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and rewarding choices you can make, but it is certainly not without its challenges. Around 80% of business ventures fail within a year starting up, which is a truly astounding number, and daunting to many prospective entrepreneurs.

Oftentimes the reasons for businesses failing relate to a lack of preparation, but sometimes it can be down to simple bad luck. There are plenty of ways for any SME to stand a chance of breaking through the one year survival milestone, though, so here are some of the key survival tips you might want to consider.


One of the most important aspects of running a business is having the necessary funds to run operations on a daily basis. Whilst some business owners choose to bootstrap their way through the early stages, it is fairly risky and should only be attempted by those who already have a decent amount of business experience.

For most SME owners, funding will come from some form of loan, although there are many options nowadays (crowdfunding, angel investment, grants). Having the necessary funding allows you to run operations smoothly and effectively, whilst giving you scope to grow and expand your venture.

Customer Service

Another incredibly important tip for ensuring survival is providing stellar customer service. If you can engage with customers in a friendly way whilst helping them with anything they need then your business is sure to get a good reputation, which is key to bringing in more customers.

Many people review businesses online, with customer service being a focal point. If you can get it right from the get go, then you can maximise your chances of getting repeat custom, generating higher profits and staying ahead of competitors.


Your business plan will be the blueprint for the direction you take your business in, and it should also outline your overall strategy and goals. This will help you to make crucial decisions in the early stages, and also help you decide which methods you will employ to achieve your objectives.

You may, for instance, consider using a delivery service like TNT Direct to deliver goods to customers. This can be an effective way of boosting profits, as you can reach people who might not otherwise be able to reach your business. Whatever your strategy, be sure to implement it with affordable methods which won’t eat into funding/profits too much.


Finding the right staff (if you need any) can be a difficult task, and they can also be fairly costly. It is definitely worth considering attending events like apprenticeship fairs, as you can find many potential employees/long term apprentices there.

It is worth calculating exactly how many staff you will need and which types of skills/experience may be beneficial to your business. It is likely that as your business grows, the amount of staff you need will also grow, so it is worth planning ahead for each stage of your business’s expansion.


Reaching out to potential customers through marketing is undoubtedly one of the most crucial elements of both initial and long term business success. There are many ways to do this, with one of the most effective being through digital marketing (SEO, social media, website).

For those SMEs which have less funding, it is well worth looking for cheaper/cost-free marketing methods, as these can still generate excellent returns for relatively little effort. These can include putting adverts in shop windows/the local newspaper and even delivering leaflets to people’s doorsteps in the local area. Once you have generated a good amount of interest from your marketing, you may see a noticeable rise in your overall profits.

These are some of the most effective ways you can maximise your business’s chances of survival in the early stages. It is important to ensure your business is as adaptable and resilient as possible, given the general unpredictability which most businesses owners face when they first start operating. Be sure to research your market extensively, and be as creative as possible when it comes to bringing in customers in order to maximise your chances of achieving success in the long term.

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