Starting a new business in this economy may be tough, but it’s not impossible. We broke down the top 7 things you should consider and prepare before you jump into launching your startup.
1. A good sense of timing
We mean this in two ways: 1) Picking the best moment to launch your company. This is always a balancing act determined by a great many factors including: the ebbs and flows of your industry, the success or faltering of competitors, the availability of startup funds, and your own personal circumstances (having a baby in a month? Maybe don’t try to start a new company right this minute. Want a baby in 3 years? Jump on it right now.) And 2) Getting your business plan completed and making decisive moves to get your business off the ground quickly. We’re not saying to rush – by all means, take the necessary time to develop your plan carefully – but so many startups fail simply because they wallow in early development and never even get off the ground.
2. The cleanest budget on the block
A common mistake new business owners make is thinking as long as they can get their hands on a big enough chunk of money, they can plop it in a business checking account and surely it will suffice to cover their expenses. This is wrong and stupid and no – we’re not even going to pick nicer words to say that. It is crazy important to have a super detailed budget before you spend a single penny. If you aren’t an expert at budgeting, enlist the help of someone who is. Considering that a lot of startup CEOs tend to be more “big picture” thinkers, crunching numbers is not a popular favorite task. As such, is too often glazed over. Just…don’t. Every area of the business should be carefully accounted for and the budget should be adhered to as closely as possible. Speaking of which…
We aren’t only talking about money here, but to be sure, exercising self-control and sticking to your budget is definitely a must. In every way, running your own business – especially during its startup phase – requires discipline in all areas. Our tips: decide ahead of time on goals for each day/week/month, rather than just deciding on what hours you will work. We’re all about a work/life balance, and are not ones to suggest letting your startup take over your life completely, but the simple fact is that startups require a bit more nurturing than established companies. Decide what needs to be accomplished by when, and force yourself to stick to your benchmarks. It’s better to pull a couple of long days than to get woefully behind.
4. Super sharp social skills
If you and your team happen to know key people in high places (“high” in terms of their position in your industry, or “high” in terms of the number of zeros on the investment they want to give you), then fantastic. You’re ahead of a lot of people. If you don’t, being tirelessly committed to leveraging your existing network and seeking out opportunities to make connections with powerful people is part of your job description. Either way, having an ability to form new relationships and nurture and maintain existing ones is important for the vitality of your business.
If there’s anything that’s consistently true about launching a startup, it’s that very little will be consistently true. When you put so much time, effort and faith into one business plan, built on one business model, it’s logical that you would have trouble accepting that maybe it needs to be modified, or worse yet, scrapped and rebuilt entirely. Unfortunately, at any point in the startup process – from concept to actually being in business – new factors can arise that illuminate parts of your operations, branding…any part of your business really, that need to be tweaked and altered to work better. Investing your energy and emotions into a business plan is what a good entrepreneur does – being married to one specific method or course of action is not. You should constantly be on the lookout for ways to adjust what you’re doing to greater success, and be utterly unafraid to make those changes.
Kind of a no-brainer, but had to throw it in here because it is definitely a thing startups need to succeed. Just how much money you need can vary – maybe it’s as little as $50k or many millions of dollars – and there are a lot of different ways to get it. Whether it’s seed money from your own pocket, angel investments, or small-business loans, figure out which path to funding is best suited for your company and pursue it. Seriously, you need money.
Even the most thoughtful business plans, founded on the most innovative, visionary ideas, count for basically nothing if the person/people at the helm lack the perseverance, skills and knowledge to carry the whole endeavor to successful fruition. At the end of the day, knowing how do so something is arguably more important than knowing what needs to be done. Having the experience in the industry your startup exists in, and having the energy to get your hands dirty and do the heavy lifting, are irreplaceable when it comes to making your startup succeed.