Starting a new business is an exciting time. It’s what most people dream of. However, reality tells us that more than 50% of small businesses fail within their first few years of activity. Statistics may not be a prediction of the future, but you might want to keep these numbers in mind and act accordingly. Your business needs to grow in a sustainable manner, which means that after the launch period, you need to focus on creating the right trajectory instead of allowing the fuel to burn out. Here are a few tips and tricks you can use to make sure that things are heading in the right direction.
1. Staff your business accordingly
In the US, 69% of entrepreneurs start their business in their own homes. Also, 82% of small businesses were actually started with personal funds from either the entrepreneur’s own savings or from family and friends. Additionally, in terms of staff, due to this rather personal frame so specific for small businesses, entrepreneurs usually decide to hire friends and family to run different departments. Tapping friends and acquaintances on the shoulder, asking them to come work for you might not be the best idea, unless of course, you have an IT phenomenon in your family who cannot find a job.
In order to build a scalable business, you need to hire qualified employees. You cannot ask favors from friends and family thinking that it’s better for business, because they are giving 101% to make things work. Sometimes our loved ones might not have what it takes to successfully run their department. As your company grows, you need to be sure that the right decisions were made in all departments and that the people responsible have extensive knowledge and sufficient experience in their area.
Tip: Try collaborating with an HR company that can provide you with on-going support and relevant options in terms of candidates. Sometimes, these HR companies might know what you need better than you.
2. Keep long-term employees close to your business
In the early years of any business, the staff is usually represented by a handful of people. 3, maybe 5 individuals will be working for you, maybe harder than you thought, and together your business will start growing. Of course, you will start hiring more and more people, as the workload increases and the different needs begin to surface. The more revenue you generate, the more you’ll afford to hire specialists rather generalists, more experienced heads of departments at a higher level in their career. However, try not to forget your first employees.
Keeping your long-term employees on board, close to your business, not only shows your company’s character, but it’s a sound business decision as well because:
- Long-term employees are very familiar with the company, as well as with your expectations. They know the company’s trajectory and its destination. So, their efforts will be driven towards reaching the goal you have set.
- They do not require additional training. They already know everything about your company.
- People who have worked hard to grow your business are most likely innovative and creative, which makes them good team leaders. Even if they’re not, it is normal human behavior to develop ownership feelings towards the things you help grow, so these are the people who are both personally and professionally invested in your business.
3. Systematize everything
Business process standardization might seem like something that only corporations do, but in reality, every business needs systems. Business process standardization allows your company to grow in a sustainable and organized manner, it helps when having to train new members and it allows you to track the evolution of your company and check where and if improvements can be made.
Start standardizing all procedures, all working methods on departments and tasks. Ask your experts to take the time to create standard operating procedures, describing all steps involved as clearly and plainly as possible. Always consider the end goal.
You need to think about the future of your company early on. Even though at first you just want to get through the first year, then the third year and finally get past the first five years, you need to establish your company’s best practices and systematize everything from day one, or at least as soon as you have a clear business trajectory.
4. Mind your cash flow
One of the main reasons why start-ups fail within their first year is bad cash flow judgment. Poorly managed cash flow affects 82% of start-ups and, needless to say, greatly impacts the ability to become a scalable business.
Cash flow needs to adjust with your business expectations. This means keeping the door open for investors. Pitch your ideas constantly to both banks and private investors, depending on the industry you’re in and the type of business you’re running.
Never think you have enough money, but also don’t see finances as a problem. You don’t want money to stop you from acquiring the talent you need. Otherwise, your business might hit a blockage and stop growing.
5. This is the gig economy we live in
In the early stages of any business, strategies and tasks don’t have a clear path and neither do people. Everyone is a generalist, you all do a little bit of everything. Even though this may work for a while, success is not achieved only by trying. You need expertize and if you can’t afford it in-house, don’t be afraid to outsource.
Look for freelancers, consultants, independent contractors who have a widely spread network of fellow specialists. Collaborating with freelancers guarantees you quality, task fulfillment and focused problem solving.
6. Ask for feedback and implement changes
Few people are born exceptional entrepreneurs and it is not always these people who built amazingly successful businesses. You build your company by making mistakes and learning from them. This may just be the toughest lesson you’ll learn when running your business.
Even though many people think they have an exact grasp on how products or services should enter the market, be perceived and used by extension, the reality, however, shows that consumers will always surprise you. Their opinion is one that matters most.
Test your products or services, ask for feedback and suggestions, but most importantly, Listen! Simply having the feedback without implementing any changes will not do you much. Adjusting your operations to the needs of your audience is the key to a scalable business. It’s the only way you can grow.