Every start-up business owner is looking to fast track their success. While there’s no magic formula that guarantees business success, there’s a number of proven strategies that can help you get your business off to a flying start.
Starting a business is challenging and you need to take calculated risks, back your judgement, manage your money and deal with associated the pressure and stress. There are a number of key pieces to the start-up jigsaw including creating your brand, building a website, preparing sales forecasts, a budget and a business plan that incorporates a marketing plan. It’s a busy agenda and it’s easy to get distracted and lose focus which is why you need to plan the process and including a timetable of activities.
Once you’re operational, the next step is to grow the business. Will your brand and website resonate with your target market? Will your marketing plan actually work and are your financial forecasts accurate? Planning is a key ingredient for business success but if you’re looking to hit the ground running then there are a number of other things you should look to put in place.
1. Reduce Risk
While risk comes with the territory for entrepreneurs, you should aim to minimise the risks. You can’t eliminate all the risks but you can certainly take steps to mitigate threats like fire, theft, water damage and burglary with appropriate insurances. Using a solicitor for contracts and leases will also help prevent the threat of legal action.
Another threat is the potential disruption of the business operation due to IT issues including computer breakdowns and poor internet performance. We operate in an internet fuelled world and IT failures can bring a business to its knees. If your server crashes and you lose access to your data or financial software (invoicing, stock control etc.) then the business could grind to a halt.
Theft of customer files or a data breach could be catastrophic. Your IP could get stolen or compromised and the recovery time and cost could be significant. Such events could erode customer confidence and loyalty. Data back-ups, security and contingency plans can give you peace of mind and remember, not every business insurance policy covers things like data breaches or cyber losses. You’ll sleep better at night if your policies cover the cost of recovery and remediation plus potential legal action.
Of course, as your business grows and expands you might purchase new equipment and stock levels might also increase in size and value. As such, you should periodically review your insurance policies to make sure they are adequate because you can’t afford to discover you’ve outgrown your coverage just when you need it the most.
2. The Right Team
When you start your business you might find you need to fill many different roles. As the founder you could be wearing many hats including inventor, receptionist, bookkeeper, cleaner, webmaster and marketing manager. You sometimes have to be a jack of all trades but you can’t afford to spread yourself too thin. You also need to recognise your weaknesses and if you lack the skills to fill any of the key roles then think about hiring a specialist.
Don’t try and become an overnight legal eagle to review contracts, agreements and leases. Make no mistake, getting the legals wrong can be disastrous. If bookkeeping isn’t your cup of tea, don’t think you can become an instant accountant. Consult with us about what type of business structure and software to use. Use a bookkeeper to set up the right bookkeeping system. As you grow, hiring good people will help you accelerate your growth. You can spend more time working on your business when you delegate tasks to your team.
3. One Eye on the Future
If you’re filling many different roles in the business, you’re probably very busy. As such, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day running of the business but you also need to spend time working on the business.
In business, the definition of insanity is doing things the same way and expecting better financial results. Technology can change an industry in the blink of an eye and you need to monitor advancements in technology to improve your efficiency and processes. It can also give you a competitive advantage and potentially a price edge that can accelerate your growth.
Consumer behaviour and markets change so you can’t afford to run your business looking in the rear-view mirror. The owners of the fastest growing businesses have one eye on the future and we have seen large international brands vanish because they missed the technology boat. Global photography giant Kodak had sales in excess of $10 billion in 1981 but filed for bankruptcy in 2012. They were at the forefront of photography industry for years and virtually ‘owned’ the market with an 85% market share for cameras and 90% market share for film.
Ironically, in 1986 they actually created a digital mega-pixel camera, invested in the technology, and even forecast that photos would be shared online. They failed to realise that online photo sharing was the new business, not just a way to expand their photo printing business. Steve Sasson, the Kodak engineer who invented the first digital camera in 1975, summarised the initial corporate response to his invention this way, “But it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘that’s cute -but don’t tell anyone about it.” While there are very few corporate mistakes the size of Kodak’s, the lessons are clear. Complacency is poison in the digital age and if you stand still, your customers will bypass you and your competitors will leapfrog you.
In business, no amount of planning, passion or money can guarantee success. They are key ingredients but if you’re looking to get your business off to a flying start you need to have one eye on the future and identify emerging trends. Don’t get complacent and treat technology as your friend. Monitor your competitors marketing and know their pricing while ensuring you have a clear point of difference.
The right team including your financial and legal advisors can ensure your business foundations are strong including the right business structure and software. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades and master of none. Hire people to cover your weaknesses and delegate as much as you can so you can spend more time working ON your business rather than IN your business.