Year one in business is both exciting and terrifying. You’ve finally brought your business idea to the market, but there’s a lot on the line and the pressure is on to turn it into a profitable enterprise. Getting through the first 12 months is definitely going to be an exercise in self-belief – not to mention sheer grit and determination, but you can survive. Here are some tips to help you succeed.
Be focused but reactive
When you first came up with the idea, you probably had a clear vision of why you were doing it and what you were trying to achieve. A few months into your first year, however, and your focus may get a little blurry. For this reason, it’s important to have a comprehensive business plan that sets out your vision, goals and strategies. This should act as your benchmark and keep you on track. The first year in business rarely goes to plan so remember to stay calm and be flexible. Listen to feedback, respond to the market and tweak your tactics accordingly. This will give your startup the best chance of success.
Build up your support network
The life of an entrepreneur can be a lonely one. Sometimes, it’s easy to feel like you’re suffering all of the stresses and strains alone. You don’t need to – plenty of people have been through this themselves and come out on top. So, reach out to your professional peers or attend a few business networking events. Check out Meetup and Eventbrite, as well as online groups and forums where you connect and share experiences. You’ll get the chance to speak to other business owners in the same boat, with similar aspirations and challenges. Co-working spaces, like Spacely and Hub, are another way to initiate relationships with other entrepreneurs. Plus, they can get you out of your bubble if you’re running your ‘empire’ from home.
Keep your finances tight
Inadequate cash flow and poor financial control are two of the top reasons cited for why Australian startups fail in the first few years. It’s so easy for entrepreneurial optimism to lead to an overestimation of sales and an underestimation of costs. To avoid falling into this trap, make your finances a priority. Forecast accurately, stay within your budget and keep track of your ingoings and outgoings. Accounting software, such as QuickBooks Self-Employed, can help you stay in control when you’re on the move – all via the easy-to-use app. In addition, make sure you have a cushion of cash behind you to cover any shortfalls.
Schedule in downtime
While you definitely need to put in the hard graft for the first 12 months, working 15-hour days won’t do you, or your business, any favours. If you don’t schedule in regular downtime, you’ll end up burning out. This can affect your decision-making ability as well as how well you manage your clients and day-to-day operations. It’s hard to keep the passion alive when you’re close to throwing in the towel. If your workload seems overwhelming, drop activities that aren’t showing results, delegate responsibilities where you can or automate others. The final snippet of advice for survival? Don’t expect too much, too soon. Very few startups turn a profit in year one. It can take 18-24 months to really get off the ground, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Even today’s big success stories struggled at the start.