Speak to any established business owner and you’ll find there are many things they wish they’d known at start-up!
If you’re in start-up stage, thinking of launching a business or just want extra insight in a competitive market, these seven hacks could boost your business.
CHOOSE YOUR TIMING WISELY
You might have the brightest idea in the world, but unless the timing is right to launch it into the market, chances are it won’t stick. One of the bigger and most recent start-up success stories showing that timing is everything is Airbnb. Investors initially rejected the concept because they couldn’t see it working. But because Airbnb arrived at the peak of recession when households were craving the extra income, the market was more open minded about opening up their houses to strangers than first thought. Airbnb is most certainly a lesson in start-up take-off!
Similarly, Bartercard started in the midst of one of the worst recessions when businesses were looking for solutions to cash shortages. Bartercard was born out of the idea that going back to basics and utilising a closed group of businesses to conduct cashless transactions would help rebuild small and medium-sized businesses in Australia. It was able to position itself as a global brand assisting businesses world-wide to boost cash flow, attract new customers and retain a competitive edge in a declining market.
While timing is everything, understanding your market inside out and knowing what your customers want is just as crucial. Research your market before you launch into it, and talk to consumers to see what they like and dislike about your start-up concept.
PLAN TO DO WELL
Brilliant ideas are only as good as your execution, so it’s vital to have a sound business plan in place which should include goals and objectives, and developed practical strategies to achieve them. Ensure you keep your plan handy and treat it like a work in progress.
Constantly refer to it to keep you on track and make alternations where necessary.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
One person doesn’t have all the skills required to run a successful business, so you’ll need to build up complementary expertise. You might be the expert in creating a new product, but that doesn’t mean you have the expertise to market it or to stay on top of finances.
Get other experts on board, either in-house or through outsourcing areas like marketing and accounting to specialists.
ALWAYS SHOW UP
You might already have a steady supply of clients you are reaching out to online, but nothing beats face-to-face, and it’s especially important to put yourself out there when you’re initially building a brand. Communicating in person is critical in building rapport and trust, and creating more meaningful conversations.
So RSVP to events, ask to meet clients for a coffee instead of a teleconference and always show up!
USE TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Today a business without a digital presence is virtually non-existent. So harness the technology which will give you maximum reach in brand exposure, stretch your finances the furthest and make every day processes the most efficient at the lowest cost – it will certainly pay off in the early days when every dollar counts.
Every successful business today is jumping on cloud computing which can save time on tasks such as bookkeeping and push the cost of software and licences down. The cloud allows you to work from anywhere you can access the internet and enables you to collaborate with others and keep critical business data secure. Many cloud applications also come with free trials, which means you can try a few suppliers to see what best suits your business needs.
KNOW WHERE YOU STAND FINANCIALLY
Having a realistic picture of your finances is critical to keeping track of your business, knowing where to invest and importantly, when to pack up. Failure is a big part of business and knowing when you’ve reached your financial threshold can help you make informed decisions, weather the storm and get out relatively unscathed.
Business owners can often get so caught up in running the show and growing their enterprise that they simply leave financial matters to others without oversight. A wise business owner will always understand their finances inside out.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT SECURITY!
It’s a dry topic, but being online isn’t without risk, and it’s important to take security into consideration. Losing all your precious data or failing to protect your customers’ privacy can have disastrous consequences.
Doing regular data backups and using firewalls, encryption and anti-virus software can help to keep your data safe and secure. Bartercard has a range of members who can keep your IT security covered without the cash cost.
Considering that nine out of ten new businesses fail in the first couple of years of operation, it’s worth listening to the advice of successful leaders who’ve conquered start-up.
• Sara Blakely, inventor of Spanx Shapewear said it’s important not be afraid of failure
• Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss Spa and FitFlop advises get everything in writing
- this can frequently get overlooked in all the excitement of starting out
• Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Company said if you want a viable business, ensure your
product either costs less or is better than that of your competitors
• Andy Sheats, creator of health insurance finder health.com.au advises using downtime to
self-evaluate and plan ahead.
Lastly, the king of entrepreneurs, Richard Branson, said it’s important to be a leader who inspires others, rather than someone who calls themselves the boss. So, if you have staff, give your people the freedom to be autonomous and creative, make yourself visible and always give the best of yourself in business.
Sounds like wise advice!