Your first year in business can make or break your new venture. While it’s a busy and exciting time, you also need to keep your emotions in check to stay focused, and always keep the bigger picture in mind. Here are seven things you can do to ensure success during your first year in business.
1. Maintain a clear focus
The first year in business can feel a little chaotic. You’ll likely want to seize every opportunity at once and take on every piece of work that comes your way. Try to avoid this. It will only result in a scattergun approach that ends up dissolving all your efforts. Instead, stay focused on implementing your business plan and establishing your unique selling point.
2. Develop an elevator pitch
You’ll spend much of your first year in business talking with potential clients, suppliers, and investors. Make sure to sum up what you do and the value you offer over and above your competitors in a short, clear pitch. Commit it to memory and be ready to fire it off at any given moment.
3. Watch your budget
You’ll be tempted to spend up big during your first year in business – whether it’s setting up your business premises, hiring staff, investing in equipment, or launching your first marketing campaign. But budgets can easily get blown out if you don’t stay vigilant. So, it’s important to keep a close eye on your financials in your business plan. In your first year, it’s best to avoid expenses that don’t have a direct business benefit.
4. Listen to your target market
It’s easy to define your target market in your business plan, but truly listening to the real-world needs of your actual customers is a different story. You’ll learn a lot about their expectations during your first year in business, so keep an open mind. Both positive and negative feedback can be an opportunity to get closer to your customers.
5. Stay true to your brand
When it comes to branding, consistency is the magic word for new businesses. If you’ve defined your brand in your business plan, make sure these guidelines are portrayed in everything you do, from collateral design to tone of voice. It takes time to establish a brand image, so stick with it. Changing it up within that crucial first year signals instability and may throw your consumers off.
6. Launch a killer website
For many businesses in the digital age, your website will be the first point of contact for your clients. So, it may need little extra love during the first 12 months to ensure any bugs are ironed out quickly. Putting an emphasis on search engine optimisation (SEO) and building good website content in your first year will build the foundation for the years to come.
7. Seek the best software solutions
Implementing the right software solutions will help to optimise your workflows from the very beginning. Consider investing in good customer relationship management (CRM) software. Additionally, a full-service accounting platform like QuickBooks Online will help keep tabs on your cash flow in those early days.