You have finally done it! You got that startup off the ground and are in business. What a great feeling. But you have some paranoia you are doing it wrong. That everything is about to come apart. How do you know your startup is healthy? Keep reading to learn more.
1. Find Your Niche
Are you working with the right market sector? Is it a young, fast-growing market, with lots of opportunities? If not, you will be competing with long-established companies and need to stand out from the crowd even more. Do you have that key difference? Is your product the best? The most advanced? The best value? Is your customer service stellar? The key here is to find or create a way to outshine the competition.
2. Hire the Right People
Do you have people with the right stuff, from the top on down? Bringing in accomplished leaders, managers and experts will give you a competitive edge. In some areas you may need to bring people in from the outside, accountants, lawyers and marketers can be just as much part of your team as your staff. Make sure they are competent and respected. This is the crew that will help you weather any storm.
3. Follow the Right Path
Are your efforts focused on long-term goals, or do the urgent daily tasks distract and dissipate your efforts? Planning for your growth helps keep you focused on eliminating roadblocks to that success. Consider all the factors that will come into play as you grow. Increased payroll, additional financing, raw materials or inventory, and even new technology. Make sure your road to growth considers these important factors and leaves enough flexibility to handle unforeseen twists.
4. Secure Funding
Having sufficient capital, not just to make it through lean times but to grab opportunities when they occur, will make the difference between a slow climb and a rocket ride. A variety of finance options exist, and a mix of several is a common situation. Initial funding is often from personal savings or investments from the founder’s friends or family.
Outside investors and venture capital can be used to push even harder. Business loans can be an option, but be sure to use a business loan calculator to determine your total cost and payment schedule. Your profit from the use of the loan must exceed its price and you must be able to pay it back on the agreed schedule. Balance the long-term cost and the immediate cash flow to get the best deal you can.
5. Use Your Time Wisely
Making proper use of your time can be tricky. There are so many urgent demands that you can pull in all directions at once. But a key factor is taking advantages of slowdowns. Startups have times as they grow where you will find yourself with time on your hands. This is a gift!
One significant use is networking, getting the word out about your business and making contacts for the future. Attend or exhibit at trade shows, or join organizations related to your business. Even getting involved in the local business community can be a worthwhile use of your time.
6. Get Your Business “In Shape”
Review your company’s structure, whether that is a single proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. Does it still fit your needs? Are you complying with the relevant regulations? Using the right accounting practices? Filing the right paperwork? Be sure you have documented all of this, your team’s responsibilities, and codes of conduct for your management and investors. Have control and ownership over your innovations. A patent, copyright, and trademark where appropriate, and beware of infringing on other companies’ intellectual property.
7. Stick to the Plan
When you began, you made a business plan. Are you still following it? Is it still relevant? If it still fits, if it describes your business accurately, wonderful. If not, take another look at it. Show it to experts, lawyers, accountants, other entrepreneurs. Make changes where necessary to be sure it fits your business and lays out a strategy for success.
A strong, accurate business plan is an absolute requirement for bringing in outside investment or business loans. None of them will be impressed if you are winging it. They want a plan and proof you are following it.
Considering each of these tips will allow you to monitor the health of your entire business. This will give you the ability to alter course and revise your methods if necessary. With the ability to identify your businesses’ strengths and weaknesses, you can more effectively steer your company on the path to success.
Do you own a business? If so, share your best tips for growing a small business from a startup into a full fledged company.