10 things to do when starting a business…
As part of Fistral’s 21st anniversary year, we’ve asked the Directors to share their thoughts and experiences on a variety of business-related issues. In the third of the series, they talk about starting-up a business and what an SME needs to think about.
For the third in our series of Top Tips, we asked:
“What do you need to do when starting a business?”
10 pieces of advice from the Fistral Directors are:
- Find something you will enjoy doing.
- It won’t last otherwise. Because a new business means investing a huge amount of time and effort to make it work, you need to believe in and love what you do.
- Know that it takes hard work, guts and determination.
- Make sure your family also know this. Recognise that you will have to make numerous sacrifices – personal, time, financial… Be prepared for long-hours and having to bounce back from rejection or work through leaner, as well as good, times.
- Have a goal to keep you motivated.
- Otherwise your focus for the company will get lost, and any sacrifices needed will be harder to justify. As well as an overall vision and goal, identify smaller goals and/or quarterly aims so that you can celebrate these. Make them SMART. It’s the small ‘wins’ that ultimately make the big one achievable; and if you only concentrate on the end goal it can be hard to maintain your motivation day-to-day or month-to-month (especially if times get tough).
- Understand your market and understand your strengths.
- Make sure you’re providing something that people need; and identify why customers should pick you over everyone else.
- Create the best product or service you can.
- Otherwise, what’s the point? Take pride in what you do and make every effort to ensure that those who you work with do likewise.
- Find the right people to help you.
- You can’t know everything, and no-one expects you to. Work with people who are experts in their field – the best you can afford or convince to help you out. Only work with people you trust: word-of-mouth recommendations can’t be beaten.
- Look after your customers.
- Ultimately, success depends on whether you keep your customers happy, listen to them, and deliver value.
- Be flexible.
- If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something different: adapt, refocus, redesign. Although frustrating, it’s better to start again than continue to waste precious time and money on the wrong thing. And learn at least one thing from every negative experience; use this to inform subsequent decisions and improve what you do.
- Remember that you are the last person to be paid.
- …or get the BMW/Rolex/holiday to the Bahamas. Having enough every month to pay all the bills (and then yourself) should be considered a success. Employees, sub-contractors, the tax-man etc. all need their share first.
- Be honest at all times.
- The only thing you have true control over in business is your reputation: lose this (and therein the trust of the people you work with/for) and your business is sure to fail. Be aware of the people who represent you and who you work with, as you are also trusting them with your name/brand/product reputation.