Starting a business is no easy feat. The time, effort, and resources required just to get your idea out there, up and running, is a monumental achievement in itself. However, the grind and the hustle does not end once your business opens. You have to continue putting in the hard work to ensure that it will survive the first number of years. Whether you are a seasoned businessman or a first-time entrepreneur, you won’t be immune to the challenges new businesses normally face. What could make the difference is anticipating such instances and practising preventive measures that could spell out the difference between success and failure? Here are some recommendations that could help you in your first few years of business.
First Impressions last
Many startups use the excuse of going through “birthing pains” that’s why they deliver substandard service early on in their business.
This habit could hurt you in the long-term because you are at risk of losing the customers you’ve worked hard to attract.
Whatever product or service your business is offering, you should make sure that you’re providing quality to your customers every single time. If you’re a burger restaurant, every single sandwich must be perfectly cooked. Don’t give the excuse that your cooks are just being trained.
If you’re offering a productivity app, don’t launch it on the app store if it’s slow or has a lot of bugs. Make sure the app will offer a great experience to people who will download it.
When a customer purchases a product, it does not matter whether you’re a 100-year old company or a one-week business. What’s important for consumers is that they are getting their money’s worth.
With online review websites and social media sites, there are so many ways you could lose new customers because of bad reviews. It will then be much harder to recover from this and regain your customers’ trust.
Think twice before making big purchases
Even if you have a very generous angel investor who’s pouring in money to your startup, this does not mean that you should operate in luxury all the time.
You may not be feeling any financial strain right now but you’ll never know when you’ll need that extra breathing room when it comes to your cash flow.
One piece of advice is to be smart about your early investments. Don’t immediately make huge purchases or commitments especially if you’re not swimming in cash.
For example, evaluate carefully whether leasing or buying equipment for your office makes more sense. Will it save you more money if you buy a piece of equipment now or should you rent it first until your business is more stable?
These decisions are critical because they will have a significant impact on how your business will run.
1. Minimise overhead costs
Another recommendation is to minimise your overhead costs. A huge chunk of a company’s ongoing expenses goes to the office rental, utilities, and staff salaries.
To avoid facing that dreaded day when you realise that you can’t pay the bills and the salaries, here are some useful tips.
2. Rent only the space that you need
Many startup entrepreneurs get over excited and tend to go for flashy office spaces or locations that are too expensive to rationalise.
While it is understandable that there is a need to impress customers and clients, don’t go overboard. Before signing that lease, ask yourself five times if you really need all that space or if all the money you’ll pay will be worth it.
When choosing a location, prioritise function and comfort rather than aesthetics or your own ego.
3. Hire remote
Hiring remote employees is another way to save resources. While it may be logical to have a core team with you, there are other tasks that can be done effectively even if your staff members are not working inside your office.
When you hire a remote employee, you save on office space and utilities, plus most of these professionals typically have their own equipment so you don’t have to purchase computers or mobile devices for them to carry out their work.
This practice will also widen your options when it comes to hiring your staff because you will not be limited to the job seekers in your area.
4. Maximise tech tools
Taking advantage of different technological innovations is another way to save resources and overhead costs. There are different tech advancements that you can use such as automation tools and productivity apps.
There are different automation tools which you can use in customer service, generating reports, messaging, online marketing, and more.
Automating processes in your business can help lessen the pressure on your staff so they can focus on more important tasks.
At the same time, using productivity tools such as project management software and tasks management apps can help in streamlining business processes and increase efficiency.
Diversify your revenue streams
“Never put all your eggs in one basket” is a cliché every new business owner should always keep in mind.
Many young entrepreneurs, however, misunderstand the essence of this advice thinking that they should dabble in more than one venture and not focus on a single business idea. While there is nothing wrong with working on multiple businesses, this saying is not just about that.
You can also apply this advice by making sure your business does not only rely on one source of income. For example, if you have a small graphic design agency, don’t just focus on one client, no matter how big that client is. Make sure you have another two or three other clients that you are serving so that if in the unfortunate event you lose that big client of yours, you’ll not totally go zero.
You also have to constantly be in search of new clients to grow your business instead of just being complacent with what you currently have. For example, if you have a healthy food service company, instead of just catering to direct consumers, diversify your market by offering your product to other businesses so you will have a B2B revenue stream as well. You can also expand your product line or services to cater to other customers.
Surviving the start-up slump
The first few years for any business will not be free of any challenges. Glitches and problems are to be expected and are commonly experienced by the majority of startups.
Anticipating these issues and having the right mindset can help you survive these challenges so you can successfully operate in the years to come.
These tips when followed effectively will ensure that you get through the first few years of your business without any hitch.