What every business owner needs to know in the first year

23 October 2020 • 3 min read

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The first year in business is when you set your path and lay the foundations for your future success. It can be exhausting, exciting and expensive; here is what you need to keep in mind to make the most of it.

You need a 60-second pitch

You are your own best promotion tool, because no-one cares about your business as much as you do. Get crystal clear on what you are offering customers.

Summarise your purpose and selling point in a one-minute speech. Then use it everywhere you go, as often as you can.

Everyone you meet is a potential customer or useful contact.

You also need a business plan

Even if you aren’t seeking funding from banks or investors, you need a document that states what problem you are trying to solve, who your target market is, who your competitors are, what costs you anticipate and what your timeframe is for making money. Every time you need to make a decision about your business, you can refer to this document.

Look after yourself

Running your own busines can be hard, so you need to make sure you are match fit. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, take time for yourself. If you drop in a heap, your business’ most valuable asset is compromised. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Stop talking about your passion

Running your own busines can be hard, so you need to make sure you are match fit. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, take time for yourself. If you drop in a heap, your business’ most valuable asset is compromised. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Focus on what you do best...

Knuckle down and perfect your offering. It can be tempting to jump on every opportunity that comes your way, but you don’t have unlimited resources.

Keep it simple and stay focused. Take the time to test your vision.

...But don’t be afraid to change tack

Perhaps people don’t want your product or service, but you’ve stumbled on something else that they do want, and you are in a position to provide it. By all means, go for it! Business is full of stories about people who set out to solve one problem and ended up on a different, and very profitable, path.

Find a mentor (if you don’t already have one)

You need someone experienced in your field but removed from your business that you can talk to about what is working and what is not. This is especially true if you don’t have a business partner. A casual coffee catch-up might just present a solution to a problem that has been bothering you for weeks.

Hire awesome people, then leave them alone

Micromanaging is not only time-consuming, it is counterproductive. No-one likes to be constantly under scrutiny - employees will feel like you don't trust them and they will start to doubt themselves. The people you hire will create your culture, so choose hard workers who are excellent at what they do. Then let them get on and do it.

Don’t forget about marketing

You are doing amazing work? Great - let people know. This need not be an expensive undertaking. Social media is the easiest, cheapest way to make a splash. You probably know a clever teen who can take over your Instagram and Facebook for next to nothing.

Build on your business plan

You understand your start-up phase inside-out. But what will you do in Year Two to avoid the cash flow problems that dog so many SMEs? Nearly half of all small businesses fail in the first two years, so you need to think beyond the first 12 months. Do you need tax advice? Additional staff? New sources of capital? Plot it out.

Tags Strategy Business

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