According to research, around 20% of start-ups in the US fail within the first year and a massive 50% fail within the first five years. Only 35% of all new businesses survive beyond the ten-year mark.
However, as a start-up owner, there are plenty of steps you can take to stay on the right side of these statistics. From creating an in-depth business plan to ensuring you only start to scale at the right time, the five tips below can help your start-up successfully navigate its first year and beyond.
A Business Plan is Crucial
A business plan isn’t just about helping to secure funding for your new venture. It’s effectively your business’s roadmap: if completed thoroughly, it can assist with both future planning and future-proofing and will be a vital resource in keeping things on track as your business grows.
By providing a blueprint for your business, you’ll be better able to stay focused on what matters and maintain direction and impetus. Creating SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goals can help to identify the most important tasks to undertake to reach your business objectives.
An effective business plan will also throw up potential problems and challenges, either now or in the future, when you’re thinking about scaling, for example. And by spotting these hurdles, you can take early steps to circumnavigate them or tweak your plan or business model to take them into account.
Prioritize Great Communication
In today’s world of remote or hybrid working, ensuring your communication processes and systems are optimal is one of the most important considerations for businesses, even start-ups. Poor communication can undermine everything from productivity to staff morale, can lead to missing important opportunities, or create a difficult culture in the office.
Get the basics in place from the off by making sure that your employees have the tools they need to be able to collaborate effectively. Rather than settling for the email or video meeting platform that comes as standard on your business devices, have a look for options that could serve your team better. There are many Microsoft Teams alternatives out there that offer innovative new functions and tools, all specifically designed to boost collaboration and increase productivity in the workplace – in terms of both real and virtual environments.
Upon evaluating the tools, don’t overlook the importance of enabling easy access to these digital solutions. If your team is working remotely, for example, turning on PSTN Conferencing in Teams can greatly enhance your communication effectiveness. This feature allows those without internet access or with limited data to dial into meetings using a landline or mobile phone, ensuring they can participate in important discussions and decisions. It’s crucial that all your employees, regardless of their location or connection capabilities, are empowered to contribute to the company’s discourse. By keeping these considerations in mind, you can create an inclusive, communicative environment that values and encourages every team member’s input.
Being able to stay adaptable and versatile when needed is a trait shared by the most successful entrepreneurs. No matter how well you plan, there will always be an element of uncertainty as your new business takes its first steps. But with the right mindset, these unforeseen circumstances can actually turn out to be great business opportunities.
For example, you may discover one item in your product line isn’t quite hitting the mark with customers. By remaining open-minded and engaging with your audience as much as possible via, for example, your business’s social media pages, you may be able to make the small alterations to the product that’ll get it selling like hotcakes. Staying adaptable to ensure that you get the very best product-market fit will help ensure your start-up succeeds.
Make the Most of Automation
As a start-up, you may wonder just how much automation you can practically deploy at this point. You may be surprised, however, at the extent to which you can use automation already to save time and money and streamline your processes.
A great example of this is the use of social media scheduling tools, which can automate when your posts are uploaded, to keep the new content coming thick and fast for your audience and meaning nothing gets overlooked on this score. You may also want to consider using automation tools to help run your payroll or HR processes (as a bonus, this is also a great way to maintain compliance) and use advanced chatbots on your website to deal with some of the most common customer queries.
As your business grows, most automation tools can scale with you, so there’ll be no need to switch systems.
Plan Your Scaling with Care
And finally – your start-up has found its feet, and you’re ready to scale – congratulations! Scaling must be handled with care; however: moving too far or too fast when your business may not have the resources in place to cope with a vastly increased output, for example, could spell disaster.
So – begin by ensuring that your business is ready to scale. Have you got both the finances secured to allow for this, as well as a contingency buffer in place? Have you fully researched the new markets you want to go into?
Once everything is ready to go, there are some key things to take into account. Firstly, in planning for growth, ensure that the most important values of your business are safeguarded, and consider how this can be done as things change. Secondly, seek expert advice if necessary – this could be especially important if you’ll be branching out into new industry sectors or new countries.
It’s also fundamental to ensure that the consistency and quality of your products and services are maintained – this will help you keep your existing customers, reach out to new audiences, and build up a positive brand image.