A term that sparks so much excitement: startup. You probably conjure up images of Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson as young men pursuing their novel ideas. But the massive companies we see today hide the sweat and tears that went into making those ideas viable and turning them into reality.
Many experts say it’s an important milestone to simply get your startup to survive its first year. So, how far along this journey are you? What will get you to your next milestone? Tweaking the business plan, a new employee or investing in a quality SEO agency Melbourne businesses can trust could be key to your future survival. So, add a few of these tips to your priority list.
There’s Never a Reason Not to Have a Plan
Perhaps you have the best business idea of the decade. You could be the next Elon Musk, making your billions. But an idea is NOT a plan.
Before you start spending money, put together a viable business plan, so you have a guideline for the next couple of months. It should include topics like:
- Where you’ll look for funding
- A comprehensive budget to help you make financial decisions
- Your marketing plan
This plan isn’t only for your own use. Firstly, it will keep you focused, yes. But chances are you’ll need investors to make the dream work. A business plan is your tool to impress potential partners, so you can do even more than you dream of today. If a potential investor can’t see proof that you’ve considered all possibilities for the future, they won’t trust you with their money.
It’s All About the Money
When you’re passionate about the new product or service you’re offering it’s easy to get distracted and forget about the numbers. Many entrepreneurs may fail because they realise they’re in financial trouble way too late.
You don’t want your brilliant idea failing simply because you don’t have enough cash in the bank to keep the lights on, do you?
For a startup, important tips include:
- Determine how much cash you have available. Ideally, you should have enough to cover basic expenses for one year. If not, boost sales or find an investor.
- Keep a tight handle on expenses and cut back wherever possible. In the long run you’ll be glad you were strict at the outset.
- You may think it’s a great marketing method to offer free products or services but being too generous will harm your cashflow. Keep free offers to a minimum and at some stage everyone has to start paying.
- Some experts say you should focus as much as 90% of your time on money generating tasks.
Let’s Talk Marketing
One aspect you’ll definitely spend money on is marketing. How else will you get the word out about what you have to offer?
The ideal is having word of mouth work to your benefit, but you need to kickstart marketing momentum. No matter what advertising campaign you decide on, these days you have to include a digital marketing approach. From proving you exist through your informative website to social media posting so you can appear on people’s Facebook feeds, online marketing is non-negotiable.
And of course, you have to find a way to rank high on Google’s search results pages. So, finding a good SEO agency is a wise long term investment that you need from the very start.
Do You Have the Right Mindset?
While money is important, some entrepreneurs may give up simply because over time it becomes too difficult to run a startup. Having a realistic expectation of what’s coming is part of how you write a success story.
When you’re running a new business, you will have too much to do and too little time to do it. And it will carry on like this even for years to come. Once you’re established, you’ll have the luxury of sitting back and enjoying the rewards. But, are you willing to sacrifice time with your family and hobbies to make it work? Talking to other entrepreneurs or a business coach may be a good idea to prepare you for the road ahead.
You Can’t be in this Alone
Of course, it’s your idea. But very rarely can an entrepreneur build a successful company without some assistance. The following should be part of your business plan:
- Creating an advisory board to help you make wise decisions.
- Networking with forums and business associations in your community and industry.
- Attending events to grow your industry network and become known.
- Employing passionate team members that will go the extra mile for your vision. Later on you’ll invest in employing those with the best skills—that obviously will require higher salaries.
- Do market research so you stay conscious of what your audience is saying about your brand.
One year. That’s the goal. And once you’re past it, make sure you use the lessons you’ve learnt to keep momentum. And if you’re still wondering if you should take the plunge and start a company, do life the Sir Branson way. “Just start. You will learn so many lessons just by doing.”.
Soon, you can be the one giving other entrepreneurs advice.