Start-ups and entrepreneurs all have one thing in common: they have a desire to make a success of their idea, product or business venture.
We have worked with many start-ups, enterprise agencies and incubation centres and found there are some common points all start-ups should be aware of when striving for success:
1. Plan, Plan, Plan
There is the obvious need for a business plan but this is often where most start-ups stop planning. It is so easy to write your business plan and then forget all about it...but the truth is this is only the beginning of the planning involved in success.
This isn't to say you are tied into your plans but they provide a roadmap for growth. You can change the plan at any time but changing direction is much easier if you know what you are changing it from.
2. Forecast the numbers
Success takes many different forms; level of turnover, level of profit, number of units sold, number of customers, number of offices/outlets etc. The list could be endless but whatever number you are working towards, there are some fundamental numbers you need to manage and forecast to achieve your goals.
Regular forecasting gives you the ability to see if you are following your plans and if you are on track. Forecasting allows you to see where profit could come from in the future and what it looks like if you carry on the way you are going.
Because forecasting looks at potential situations in the future, in can give you a risk-free look at different situations, ultimately giving you better decision-making abilities.
3. Know your numbers
There are certain numbers your business needs you to know:
- Conversion rate
- Number of purchases
- Price of purchases
These 5 numbers will make the difference between success and failure and when managed carefully, will transform your profit levels.
We have created a video explaining the importance of these 5 numbers to your business and how to use them in a simple equation to improve profits.
4. Work within your operating cash flow levels
This seems like an obvious one but so many businesses, micro, small and large, rarely think about their decision making process in terms of their operating cash flow levels.
You should know what your operating cash flow levels are on a day to day basis, this is not to say you know exactly what the figure is everyday but normally you will have a general idea of your levels of operating cash flow throughout the month.
Being familiar with your operating cash flow level gives you the confidence to make decisions about your growing business.
5. Choose the right marketing strategy
There are so many different facets involved in marketing it can be difficult to see the wood from the trees, especially if this is a discipline you are unfamiliar with.
The trick is to have the correct strategy and this will depend on what your product or service is and who you are targeting with it. There are different strategies for different objectives:
- Inbound or outbound marketing strategy
- Price lead strategy
- Partnership marketing strategy
- Relationship marketing strategy
- And so on...
The trick is to have a clear business objective and then get an expert in to advise on which marketing strategy would be best to help you achieve it.
6. Develop strategic alliances
It is easy to feel isolated when you first start out in business and strategic partnerships can be beneficial on many levels.
By choosing businesses and organisations to partner with you can; strengthen your knowledge and offering to your customers, increase your visibility to an established target market and spread the risk, and possibly the cost.
Depending to what level you decide to partner with another organisation, the rewards could be tenfold those of your individual efforts.
But be careful to be strategic with those you choose to partner with. Choose organisation with similar ethics to you and ensure you get the agreement drawn up legally.
7. Review your payment terms regularly
As part of your forecasting, you will easily spot if there is a cash flow problem within your business and one of the easiest ways of adjusting this problem is to ensure your payment terms are in line.
Ensure you are being paid for your goods or service in line with the payment terms you have to meet for your suppliers. If there is a big gap between the two, you could have a cash flow problem which will affect your growth plans.
Good relationships with your suppliers and regular reviews your of customer payment terms will help you to manage your payment terms with little stress.
8. Build a strong team
Many successful entrepreneurs and business people swear by the saying that 'you should surround yourself with those who can do things you can't'.
The strengths in your team will translate into the strength of your business so it is definitely worth investing time, money and effort into employing and growing the right team for your business.
Think: skills, personality, traits and experience when growing your successful team.
9. Make the most of networking
Networking is often seen as a room full of salesmen all shouting about their own business and not listening to anyone else. Lots of noise and very little business.
But this doesn't have to be the case. Smart businesses benefit from networking when they approach it with an open mind. This is when you could meet; a supplier with better rates than you currently have, a partner who is looking for someone just like your business to partner with or a PR opportunity.
Networking is so much more valuable to your start-up business than selling!
10. Explore different options
There are so many different possibilities in everyday life that it can be difficult to make the right decision for your business. We suggest all businesses, regardless of size, forecast different scenarios so that you know what is possible and what isn't before you have to make those important decisions.
If you are tendering for a big contact, forecast what this could mean for your sales, workforce levels, supplies and so on. Don't wait to win the contract and then work these important figures out, know what they are ahead of it happening.
For more information on forecasting, try our Forecasting Tool FREE now or contact us directly at our email firstname.lastname@example.org