Owning your business is so exciting, you have the opportunity to make your own path, embrace your creative freedom and build something uniquely yours.
Statistics say that up to 90 percent of businesses fail, but you can dramatically improve those odds by following the right steps and paying attention to the details that others overlook.
Peace Mitchell, co-founder of The Women’s Business School, gives her top tips to get a business off to the best possible start.
1. Plan for success
Businesses that have a business plan, that they refer to regularly, are estimated to be around twice as likely to be successful as those who don’t. Investing time in creating a plan for your business gives you a clear roadmap of the action to take and the goals to reach each year.
Your business plan doesn’t have to be long and complex to be effective; in fact, a simple one-page outline that you keep on your wall is more valuable than a 200-page document in your bottom drawer.
Your business plan can help to give you more clarity, better direction and really get your business ideas off the ground.
2. Harness the power of your numbers
Not knowing what your numbers are doing is like driving a car blindfolded. How can you stay on the road, let alone reach your destination?
To know if your business is successful or not, you really need to understand what your numbers are telling you. Are you making a profit? Are you making a loss? Where are you losing money? Which products or services are making you the most money? Which products or services are making the least money?
Having an understanding of your finances allows you to know where the potential for growth is and where changes should be made to improve the business.
3. Understand your customers
So many new businesses owners want their business to be something for everyone, men, women, and children.
They don’t understand that identifying who their ‘ideal’ customer is and planning their strategy and marketing messages around connecting with them is the key to making more sales, building a tribe of loyal customers and creating a successful and profitable business.
4. Invest in yourself
They say that ‘knowledge is power’ and it’s so true when it comes to business; things are always changing, new competitors can come along, suppliers can go out of business and prices on your overheads can go up dramatically.
When this happens it’s important to be one step ahead of the game and the best way to do that is by investing in yourself. There are so many great books, podcasts, articles, online courses, conferences, workshops and events where you can learn more about every aspect of business.
Make learning part of your daily routine and always be on the lookout for opportunities to learn new things.
5. Keep your cash
It’s easy to get carried away with spending money in the early days of business in the belief that you can easily make it back once sales come rolling in. The reality is that for many small business owners it can take months to start making any money, let alone a profit, so it’s best to be conservative when deciding where to spend your money in the start-up.
Spend as little as possible and find clever ways to do things without spending money wherever you can.
6. Surround yourself with good people
There will be people who are excited for you and will support you in the early days of your business, but unfortunately there will probably also be those who doubt your ability, think it’s a bad idea and tell you that you’re crazy to even be contemplating it.
Their comments are more of a reflection of who they are and their fear around trying something different than your actual ability or chance of success.
It can be disheartening when people are negative about something that you’re so passionate about, especially when its coming from someone you love and trust. Instead, try to surround yourself with people who do support you and are genuinely excited for you.
If you don’t have any friends or family who are entrepreneurs or small business owners, start attending networking events or joining online communities, these are great places to make like-minded friends and build a support network around you of people who you can ask for help and advice.
7. Be flexible
Your eventual business will almost certainly be very different from your first idea. This is another reason not to overcapitalise in the early days, because businesses often evolve and grow so much in the first 12 months as you observe, measure, listen and adapt to what the market wants, rather than what you initially ‘think’ the market wants.
It’s important that you are open to allowing space for creative possibilities and different ways of doing things rather than sticking to a rigid original plan.
Peace Mitchell – Keynote speaker, author and CEO and co-founder of The Women’s Business School. www.thewomensbusinessschool.com