Ten tips for making your early stage company a success

Here are ten pointers to ensuring you maximise your potential as an early-stage company.

Whether you are considering starting a business or have already done so, there are so many things to consider that it can sometimes become hard to see beyond day-to-day operations. Time is limited and the world is moving so fast that it can feel as if there is no time to take a step back, look at your business, and assess whether it is what you want it to be.

Start-up businesses, whether already trading or still in the planning phase, require so many considerations that it can feel like an impossible task to address them all. Below are some top tips to ensure that your business is a success.

Have a good business plan

To most business people this step will seem obvious. However, it’s surprising to see how many businesses that don’t have a clear vision of their future. If you are only focused on today, without considering next month and beyond, then it is highly possible that you do not have a true business plan.

Think of it as your road map. You wouldn’t set off on holiday without knowing how to get there, so why leave your business rudderless? Your business plan only need have the objectives you want to achieve and how you plan on getting there.

Know your market

This tip links in directly with your business plan, as you must know the market that you are targeting in order to know what opportunities you will have.

The research that you do in this area will benefit your business long-term. A small accountancy firm, for example, would do well to look at the number of small businesses in the area. Market research companies can do this task for you, but as a small or prospective business you may have to do it yourself at first.

Don’t be afraid to change

It is more common than you might think for businesses to refuse to modify themselves. Sometimes it is hard to acknowledge that you have taken the wrong approach, but it is always better to diagnose and fix these problems as early as possible. If there is a gaping hole in your projections for the first year, then sit down and address them. There is no need to become disheartened at mistakes.

Getting everything nailed down and exposing flaws is what the early stages are all about. Don’t think the whole idea is done for if one element is wrong; fix it and make the plan stronger.

Secure your finances

You may have private equity with which you plan to fund your business. Others will have to secure financing through the traditional channels.

This stage can seem like one of, if not the, most daunting part of your small business creation, but it need not be. There are numerous government funds that exist solely to help smaller businesses to flourish, with the government making a big effort to help new commerce. The loans and grants that they provide cover a wide range of scenarios and it is easy to work out if you qualify.

Have key performance indicators

When you know your plan and have your financing, it is time to work out your key performance indicators. These can be both financial and non-financial in nature and are the measuring stick by which you will be judging the success of your business.

Through the KPIs you will be able to judge how accurate your business plan is. They will also give you pre-determined goals that you can work to. When setting these targets, ensure that they are clearly defined and achievable.

Choose your structure

Whether you are already in business or still in the planning phases, it pays to know the benefits and disadvantages of different business structures. The differences between a sole trader and a partnership, or even a limited company, are many. The business structure you choose will have an important impact on your business and you personally. Being aware of what each structure offers is a good thing to know.

Sole trader:

  • There will be no legal distinction between you and the business. You get all of the profits, and all of the debts.
  • Banks may be less willing to loan you money
  • Highly flexible
  • Cheap at start up and to run

Partnership:

  • A shared load of the work, responsibility, and financial gains/losses
  • Need to be concrete in who makes what contributions: financial, expertise, property, etc. to the business
  • More than one partner can lead to disputes over salaries, shares, and so forth

Limited company:

  • Much less liability to debts and seizures if the business collapses
  • Owned by shareholders and run by directors
  • Take home a salary and a share of profits
  • You will have to surrender control of the company in this model

The company vision

Having a vision is more intangible than, but just as important, as the other steps. Knowing the values and long-term vision of your business will help you to shape your firm’s identity.

A mission statement can be a very helpful and powerful thing. It gives you a credo for you and your staff to work by. You may desire to enshrine such values as;

● Always value employee feedback

● Asking customers how to improve processes

● Always be challenging the culture of the business

Knowing that these are your core ideals helps you to steer the ship in that direction.

Keep being innovative

Innovation, in its many forms, will be one of the key factors in whether your business grows beyond its beginnings or not. Innovation is a process that can take place naturally across your business.

Keeping a keen eye on new developments in industry technology is a must. Always shop around for that software that will make everything that little bit easier, that little bit faster. You must be aware of the current trends in the market, new changes that have tightened or loosened regulations. Knowing these things is what will give you the edge over competitors and see you grow.

Know how to manage

Managing people is not easy. If you have (or one day hope to have) employees then it is essential that you know how to manage them.

Managing employees comes with a whole host of responsibilities. As a manager, it is your obligation to ensure that each employee knows his or her role and job duties. It is always important that you support your staff and their needs, which will range from job problems, requests for increased terms, or even highly personal issues. You will have to deal with all of these things in a professional, compassionate manner.

Know how to grow

As your new or prospective company grows, it will need to find more markets in order to facilitate more growth. As your contacts and existing markets mature, you will likely slip into decline if you do not introduce new clients and products into your business.

When you want to grow, plan ahead and ensure that you are ready for it. If you take on far more work than you can deal with, you may become overstretched and fail. If adding new services or products, carefully plan how long they will take to implement. Growth must be matched to the market. It should be another integrated process in your business.

From looking over these tips, you can see that there is a lot to consider. But if anything is to be taken from the advice given, then it is that these processes of innovation, learning, and growing should all be integral parts of your business. They should not be afterthoughts or side processes. They should be natural, interweaving parts of your business, because they’re core to your success. Once this kind of joined up thinking is achieved in practice, then everything else is made easier.

When you start up a business, one thing you might be looking for is accounting software. Please see: Best UK small business accounting software – review guide.

Further reading on business planning

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Startups

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