Keeping your business afloat in its first year can seem daunting, especially these days, when the competition is ferocious and success hinges on creativity and adaptability. Because of this, you will have to do everything you can to improve your odds of success.
This may be difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible. Below we offer some tips on how to give your business the much needed edge to grow and develop during the first year of operation.
Plan for Success…
As a small business, your finances and resources will naturally be limited. If you wish to succeed, you will have to develop a comprehensive strategy and plan out how you intend to use those finances and resources to maximise opportunities.
To do this, you will need to adopt a big-picture, top-down approach. You will have to take an honest look at your business’s strengths and weaknesses. This will allow you to plan accordingly, so you can allocate finances, employees and assets in such a way you are open for growth and improvement.
A top-down approach is also useful for solving already existing problems. Looking at the big picture will allow you to find and eliminate the root of a problem, rather than waste time and effort by treating its symptoms.
At the same time, it’s important not to forget the details. Small things like ordering the wrong number of office supplies, not having adequate parking or the company signage not being visible enough can all have a negative impact on the success of the business in the long run.
… But Prepare for the Worst
The saying that no plan survives first contact with an enemy may be old, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It pays off to have a contingency plan, especially for potentially catastrophic cases like losing major clients. Keeping your options open will help your business take hits like this in stride.
In cases like these, hiring advisors might be a good idea. Even though hiring outside assistance will make a dent in your budget, it can be well worth it, especially if we are talking about things like marketing specialists or tax accountants. Professionals with unique skill sets like these can help your business save money and increase profit in the long run.
Trim the Fat Where You Can
Even if you already have a rock-solid business plan in place (and you should), it can still pay off to take another look at your budget. There will always be parts you can tighten up just a bit more, and although a few hundred dollars here and there might not seem like much, over time it can add up.
With the business plan in front of you, start by singling out and marking superfluous expenses. After that, focus on the expenses that are questionable. This way you will have two lists – the former will help you find expenses you should remove immediately. The latter one can help you down the road by providing potential expenses you can remove if the going gets tough.
Reinvest Any Spare Money
Even though you may be tempted to reward yourself (and you eventually should), the first year of running a small business should be focused on building your brand and improving your product or service. To make this easier for yourself, make sure to reinvest as much of the profit as you can into your business.
This strategy will also make the transition into the second year of business that much smoother. Combining it with the points above also has the potential to make each of them more potent. Tightening your budget will lead to more ROI, which will in turn make it easier for you to put your plan into action. You will also be able to better prepared should things take and unfortunate turn.
It’s worth noting that you can save some money that you can later reinvest by making the most of tax deductions. Hiring a tax expert is your best option if you’re not sure whether you’re eligible for a tax return and how to maximize it.
Build Your Team and Foster Connections
The team you choose to realise your vision has the potential to make or break your company. Because of this, it is essential you hire the right people for the right job.
With this in mind, you will have a much easier job of finding those right people if you work on building your network. This can take any shape, whether regularly appearing at networking events or being proficient in using tools like LinkedIn.
Another benefit of the networking approach is that you have a much higher chance of running into someone with a shared passion who will be willing to invest in your business. If you are met with this kind of opportunity, it can be just the boost your business needs to not only make it through its first year, but also thrive.
Even though there are really no playbooks for you to follow on your business journey, taking the time and effort to follow the tips outlined above will help you make it through the first year of your business. Take what you find useful, adapt it to your specific situation and your business is sure to grow and thrive.
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