Getting your startup off the ground is an exciting (if somewhat fraught) time. Managing finances, customer expectations and projections for the future in a way which is effective and conducive to growth is tricky – especially if you’re new to the game.
Clearing The Board
Planning for success means placing yourself in the best possible position as you begin your journey. Starting with loose ends and disparate debts can be a downer, so why not look into streamlining your costs into one account (click here to check out debt consolidation loans from Latitude).
Clearing the slate and starting afresh is important for startups – emerging with a bright view on the future without existing baggage is a part of what makes startups exciting. If you have any lingering business disputes or issues which will impact the viability of your new venture, it’s best to deal with those well before launching the business to the public.
Through The Looking Glass
It’s always a smart move to prepare an official business plan for your business which acts as a roadmap for the initial life of your business. A business plan maps out finances, assets, permits, employee needs, running costs and growth ideas, while presenting the business as a viable, desirable entity.
A business plan can be used to entice lenders and investors by proving that the financial costs of the start-up have been drawn up and accounted for without any nasty surprises looming. It can also document your qualifications and expertise in a way that helps sway potential backers into a position of support and belief.
Look for a business plan template online, and read through available completed business plans for successful businesses. Note down any effective or unusual planning points, evaluating in hindsight how the business might improve upon their initial plan. Once you’re familiar with the format, attempt to draft your own.
Understanding your potential market is an important part for planning and growing your startup. There’s no use opening a business based around a product that the market doesn’t want. It can also help you in selecting an effective marketing strategy when you’re ready to go in that direction.
Conduct market research for your startup by either paying a professional to brief you on your intended market, or set yourself a focus group or survey of independent, unbiased potential customers and ask for feedback directly.
Read about your industry widely, and try to spot any emerging trends or growing markets. Industry journals, forums and social media are all useful for this type of reading, and will present a wide range of divergent views on any issues. Try to keep an open mind – non-expert customer opinion can be just as valuable as expert advice.
Plan For Growth
Have a well-communicated plan for what you hope to achieve at specific points in time. Set clear goals for your startup which progressively grow into milestones. Outline what it is these milestones mean, and what each milestone means as a member of the business and as a customer. If you’re looking to own a set percentage of market share, try to extrapolate what that means qualitatively for your business and how that can translate into meaningful business change to protect and encourage further growth.
Seek out stories from other startups which has both succeeded and failed. Stories of businesses which mismanaged their growth (example ‘A’) can teach you as much as stories of businesses which had an effective growth plan (example ‘B’). Be critical – try to analyse which factors helped example B succeed where example A floundered. Use this knowledge to get to know your own business motives, and to realistically plan for growth.
Having a solid plan for the growth of your startup is good business practice; it ensures that you understand that consumer growth and investment is a constant and evolving process, with no breaks for lunch. By taking your time to put in place an effective strategy for growth in the beginning of your business, you’ll be ensuring its best chance of success now and in the future.