The first year of a business is the most important to get right. It can also be the most stressful and changeable. It is crucial to be prepared for the hard work, frustration and often daunting challenges of the first year in business. At times it may seem like an impossible task, but with tenacity and the right people and tools, your business can prosper.
The best way to ensure success is by starting out with a clear plan. You will already have completed your business plan, secured funding and started buying up the supplies you will need to start your business. The next plan to make is that which will get you through the next 12 months in business. Here are some of the best ways you can help your business prosper in the first year.
Have A Cushion Of Savings
It is essential to have savings that will last you for at least six months when you start your venture. Savings will give you a much-needed cushion in the event of financial difficulties for your business, which is common in start-ups. You should ensure you have this well before you launch your business and quit your job.
Cut Costs (But Not Quality)
Being frugal is crucial in the first 12 months of business and often beyond. It is a good idea to get into the habit of operating your business as frugally as possible. This means considering money-saving options like setting up your operations in your own home or leasing shared office space. It could also mean taking a packed lunch to work and utilising public transport as much as possible.
You should also select your suppliers with care to get the right balance of cost and quality. Many new businesses want to choose the best of everything when they start out, but the cost of doing so can quickly snowball. Instead, choose solid and reliable goods and equipment with a view to moving up to high-end products once you are better established.
Almost every business owner has had help getting where they are. This could be from a family member, friend or former co-worker. You could consider getting in touch with any people in your life that have experience in starting their own businesses and picking their brains for advice and tips on surviving your first year in business.
You could also get to know other players in your industry by attending conferences, trade shows and conventions. This will help you make contacts in your industry to call on for mutual help and advice.
Limit Your Product/Service Range
It is important not to bite off more than you can chew when you first start your business. It is often best to start with a small range of high-quality products or services before branching out. This ensures that you aren’t spreading yourself too thin and that the things you are offering customers are of a high value.
Starting small also makes it easier for you as you are finding your footing in the business world. You can get a handle on how things work and the different challenges of owning a business before you start growing.
Manage Your Staff’s Performance
If you are taking on staff, it is vital to know how to get the best in productivity out of them. There are many ways you could do this, and it will help if you have some management experience or training to call upon.
An excellent way to streamline employee performance is by using management software. This allows you to keep track of your employees’ time no matter where you are based. Check out StaffCircle for more details on how your start-up could benefit.
Keep Detailed Records
In the crucial first 12 months, you should keep a close watch on your income and outgoings. Understanding your business’s finances can ensure that you are well prepared for any issues and are able to plan well in advance. It will also help significantly when it comes time to sort out your taxes and VAT, if applicable. It would be best if you considered hiring an accountant to help you keep on top of your finances as well.
Prioritise Customer Service
The customer experience is one of the critical things that keep customers coming back to you as a business. By prioritising the customer experience, you help ensure that customers will recommend you to friends and family. You can give an excellent customer experience by going the extra mile in different ways. For instance, you could put a personalised note in each order or offer a complimentary gift with each initial purchase.
Learn From Your Competitors
Learning from your competitors can help you avoid the mistakes they may have made and give you ideas on how to build success. You could consider starting with local businesses in a similar industry to yours and consider how their operations differ from your own. This doesn’t mean simply copying their techniques but instead analysing how they operate and deciding if any elements may benefit your business.
Be Kind To Yourself
Things may not always go according to plan in your first year in business. This is normal, and you are unlikely to find any business owner who hasn’t had a few hiccups along the way. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and not allow them to demoralise you. If you prepare to make some mistakes, it can help you feel less discouraged if they do occur and mitigate the impact.
Running a business is a challenge, and you should ensure you take time to relax and unwind when you can. The best thing you can do for your business is to be kind to yourself and prioritise your own mental and physical wellbeing.
Successful business leaders never stop learning. There are always new skills to be acquired and old skills to be honed. You could consider your options for courses and training that will help you run your business more successfully—for instance, taking a business finance, management or leadership course. You could also look into courses relating to your specific industry that will help you provide better products or services.
Consider Outsourcing Options
Most start-ups will have a limited capacity to take on employees. You may start off with ten employees, or you may start off with none, but you will still need specialist knowledge that you might not have yourself. Outsourcing can be an excellent way to access expert knowledge without having to bring a team in house.
Small start-ups often use outsourced services for IT support, marketing and web design. It may help to consider the different specialist skills you might need and start looking up local agencies and consultants to find a good fit.
The Bottom Line
Launching a start-up can be a thrilling, if challenging, venture. It is essential to go into the process with an awareness of the hard work it will take and as much planning and preparation as possible. The first 12 months are crucial to your success, and you should start forming good business habits in this time that will stand you in good stead for a long and successful career in business.