Surviving the first year of business by Lisa Forde0
Posted on 2nd October 2014 by Papermilldirect
Filed under Wedding Stationary Business Advice
Setting up your own business can be one of the most rewarding and challenging of tasks; and surviving will be no easy feat. The following are tips that I have gained over the past 10 years of running my businesses, www.thecardgallery.co.uk and www.treeofhearts.co.uk...
You are your company’s biggest asset! It’s likely that you will be the ‘face’ of your company, answering the phone, meeting customers – be positive in your attitude, be confident in your products and be smart in your appearance (even on the days when you don’t quite feel like it!)
Manage your business
Even though your business may initially be small you still need to have systems in place. Think about how you will back up your PC’s, artwork, finances etc and put procedures in place – and follow them!
Manage your time
You may well have been used to being told deadlines and working to your bosses’ schedule. You are now in charge of your own time and you must manage it effectively. Put systems in place to ensure you’re clear on your daily task list and keep distractions at bay by checking emails and social media at designated times of the day. Remember your time is money and the more you achieve in the working day, the less it will eat into your personal time.
Many new businesses can fail due to over ambitious targets of how much they can sell or produce in a given time. Try to grow your business in increments, that way you can manage the changes needed and take on additional staff or suppliers in stages.
Remember to be honest with yourself about the tasks you are good and not so good at – you will quickly work these out, especially at the beginning if you have to work at a grass roots level. Consider ways to outsource the tasks you find more challenging so you can concentrate on the areas you are best at so as to make a success of your business.
Some ideas and products probably won’t be a success – learn to recognise these quickly so you can change direction in a short timescale – remember that one of your strengths of being a small business is that you can react and change quickly, much faster than your larger competitors.
You’re not alone and networking is a wonderful way of combatting this feeling and building contacts. Take business cards with you wherever you go and spread the word of your business.
Watch your cashflow
In previous posts I have emphasised the importance of cashflow and I cannot stress this point enough. You need to keep a careful eye on your cashflow and begin your book keeping from the beginning – if you don’t have time to do it at the beginning, you will never make time for it later, and it will grow at an exponential rate as your business grows.
Try to save some cash for periods when sales are slower or don’t go as well as you predicted so that you can continue to pay your suppliers on time.
Carefully calculate how much profit you make on each product, including every single element involved. Whilst you might decide to offer a product at a loss to promote sales, you don’t ever want to find that you’ve been busily producing goods with no profit and haven’t realised until it’s too late!
Keep revisiting your forecasts and continue to plan
Be mindful of your monthly, quarterly and yearly plan. Whilst you may need to amend it as your business grows, possibly in unexpected directions, it’s important to keep your goals in sight. Take time out on a regular basis to discuss the direction of your business and hurdles your experiencing with a friend or colleague with suitable business experience – it’s very easy to get too caught up in the ‘doing’ of your business rather than the running of it.
Build relations with good suppliers
If you rely on others to produce your goods then building strong relationships with good suppliers is a must. Negotiate on prices, terms and even delivery times as your business grows and you become more valued by your supplier. Remember that it’s a 2 way relationship, for them to keep supplying you it’s got to work for both them and you. Don’t get tied into long contracts, these shouldn’t be needed if your supplier is a good one!
You’ll need lots of this… for the days when the sales pitch for the order you really needed doesn’t go quite to plan…to the day when your internet connection fails and you spend all of your time trying to get back online to be able to process your orders and communicate with your customers. It’s likely that there will be times when you will be challenged to the limit, and your mistakes will cost you money, but overcoming the hurdles can be immensely rewarding and will help you to grow your business and ultimately achieve your goals.
There are sure to be both ups and downs along the way as you start and grow your business. If you really want to do it, you can! And don’t forget, you have a very big part to play in determining the destiny of your business. Good luck!