Over the years I’ve talked to many entrepreneurs who started with a great concept and high energy yet failed to launch a successful business.
I’ve also seen people who only had modest ideas and yet went on to establish large profitable companies.
These are my conclusions and top tips for a successful start-up:
1. Know your market. Many of the entrepreneurs that failed had dashed headlong into launching their business without having done the spadework of testing the market’s acceptance of their idea.
The ones that succeeded had worked out a practical marketing plan, knowing how they were going sell the product or service to an identified group of customers.
2. Start with a co-founder or partner. Almost all the successful businesses had a partner.
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and even Richard Branson had co-founders. It takes some of the burden from you, inspires action and gives another person to bounce ideas off. See Should You Have a Business Partner?
But do make sure you put the business partnership in writing .
3. Start lean. In the early days those that were most successful focused their funds only on the areas that would make a difference.
No big cars or designer offices. The founders worked for minimum wages, ploughing all the money back into the business.
4. Measure and keep track of how you are doing. Knowing your costs vs sales and the timing of funds in and out is a necessity. Some that failed were profitable companies but sank because they underestimated the importance of their cash flow.
It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, use online accounting software like QuickBooks which is ideal for the small business. Because it’s online you are not trapped in the office to use it, vital when it’s you doing many of the jobs in the business and dashing around.
Nobly have a good reference for what to look for and have rated the best accounting software that you may want explore.
5. Use customer feedback. You won’t get everything right first time. Those that reacted quickly to customer feedback made the biggest strides. Also, in engaging with your customers you build loyalty and repeat sales.
In fact customer service is a great differentiator for you. Many that failed were somewhat arrogant in their customer dealings. Have a look at rather an old article now, but still relevant Provide a Better Service Than Your Competitors .
Yes growing a business is hard work, but also fun. With a little bit of foresight and doing the right things the business will blossom and provide you with enjoyment (and reward) for many years to come.