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It’s tough out there – ask any small business owner. Serving customers, turning a profit, getting paid, watching the cash flow and keeping on top of the admin are all daily survival challenges we business owners constantly face.

Dealing with all this stuff requires an enormous amount of hard work, patience and determination but while these are indispensable ingredients, business survival and growth will also require that the business owner is making the right moves. That’s about recognising when decisions need to be made and making well considered, consistent choices that keep the business moving in the right direction.

I have nothing but admiration for the many small businesses that serve their customers so well: producing a quality of products and services that match and often exceed that of many of their much larger competitors. There can be no doubt we all benefit hugely from the high quality and terrific value small businesses consistently provide.

On the other hand the business owners themselves often don’t get such a good deal. I constantly hear of businesses struggling on low profits, with poor cash flow, where their owners are working long hours, feeling under constant pressure, with little time to relax and spend time with their family.

Sadly most people who start out in business have very little, if any, training. It’s therefore perhaps not so surprising that many small business owners struggle as they do. In fact most business owners learn the hard way, by trial and error. A great deal of trial and a lot of errors. What’s more, sometimes those errors can be very costly.

It’s small wonder then that a very high proportion of all business start-ups will fail within the first few years. This is because the owners have to learn quickly what they need to do in order to survive and if they don’t, they pay the ultimate price.

Those that do survive the early years often find themselves constantly struggling to keep going and feel a deep despair as nothing ever seems to improve.

But it really doesn’t have to be this way. To those small business owners who truly desire a better financial reward in return for their hard work and wish for a robust business that isn’t constantly lurching from one crisis to the next, take heart, it is possible to seize control.

You don’t need to be a natural leader, a financial whiz or a marketing guru to significantly move your business on from where it is right now. Running a business well doesn’t mean you need to employ highly sophisticated techniques – just taking a common sense approach to activities covering all aspects of the business, in combination, can make a massive positive difference.

What’s more you don’t have to put in lots of extra hours to achieve all this. Strengthening your business doesn’t need to be about making huge leaps - I’d suggest, that absolutely any business owner can make a massive difference just by taking a series of gentle bite-size steps. This easy-to-apply approach means that it doesn’t matter how busy you are, you can start making progress with your business right now!

If you’re interested in a better deal for your business why not take that first bite-size step today – then take your next one tomorrow…. and then keep it going.

By Ian Marshall, Author of ‘The Savvy Guide to Kick-Starting Your Small Business’