Each entrepreneurial journey is different and although there is plenty of advice available for starting your own business and getting it up and running, there is little to follow this and support the owner through the toughest period a business will ever see – its first year.
Although it may seem as though you are through the worst once you have carried out thorough market analysis, created a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) evaluation and prepared your business plan, there are plenty more trials and tribulations to come.
Having made it through the rocky first year in business myself before building a successful and steadily growing company, here are my top tips for ensuring you survive the first hurdles you’ll face in your newly launched business:
Get your staffing right
I firmly believe that the most important element of a successful and profitable business is the people. The people make a brand, the people are the ones delivering excellent customer service, and it’s the people making sure that customers get exactly what they’ve paid for.
Sourcing the best staff is crucial and it’s important that you set out exactly what you need in order to further the business, by choosing a team of people with the right skills and attitude. It is worth assessing whether it would be more cost effective to outsource some processes such as recruitment, since a specialist can help you find the perfect fit in terms of skills, attitude and culture.
When recruiting, figure out what key tasks they will be undertaking in their day-to-day processes, and set them a realistic task in a timed and controlled environment, so you can see how they are likely to perform. However, when giving tasks such as these, bear in mind that the candidate is under unusual stress so they should be given some leeway on this.
Prepare for the unexpected
During your first year, you will no doubt encounter challenges you will not foresee coming your way. You can prepare for the unexpected using thorough risk assessments and ensuring that you are expecting something to come your way. It’s not a case of knowing what’s going to hit you – no one has a crystal ball – but instead a case of making sure your business processes are robust enough to cope, should they take a hit.
For example, if your utilities fail for a day or if you encounter IT disruption, you need to have contingencies in place to cope with such circumstances. You can also prepare for the unexpected through expert advice, which is not only required to help set up a business, but you will find yourself needing support from time to time throughout your entire entrepreneurial journey, even if it is 10 years in.
Raise your profile
During the first year of business, it is critical that you build and raise a profile in order to gain and maintain customers. For the first year, you should totally engross yourself in industry events and be totally dedicated to networking. Attending every conference, awards ceremony, exhibition relevant to your industry may be time consuming and costly but the networking opportunities are rife and the people you meet will be invaluable contacts. These events will return investments.
Not only will this help you to build the name among the relevant audiences, but it will also enable you to create a strong and positive image of the company through being passionate.
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