Are you trying to grow a start up at the moment? Well, there’s an incredible amount to learn. But, there’s no need to learn it all the hard way. Take these five tips on board and use them to take your fledgling business from strength to strength.
Keep an eye on your cash flow
If you didn’t know it already, you soon will: cash flow is king when it comes to keeping your start-up afloat. Without a sufficient amount of cash available throughout the month, you risk not being able to pay yourself, your staff, your suppliers or your landlord. Those final three parties won’t care that you’re waiting on payment from customers, or that investors will be giving you money in a few months. So, you risk having to stop operating – even with active customers. To prevent this happening, overestimate your expenses, underestimate your income and try to anticipate out flows (such as monthly payments on accounts payable or marketing expenses for example).
Invest in security
Physical security: whether you’re working from home or renting an office space, you’ll need to give some thought to ensuring your tools, stock and equipment isn’t stolen or damaged. If your start-up is centered around buying and selling goods, you’ll need specific insurance to cover the value of those items. But, even if you’re just working on a computer, you’ll still need insurance to protect your equipment and premises.
Cyber security: cyber security is an increasing challenge for businesses, and your start-up isn’t safe from harm. So, do some research to see what the risks are. Simple ways to stay protected include not opening emails from suspicious senders, installing your updates as soon as they’re available and ensuring you have good anti-virus software.
Financial security: financial security is another important element to consider. You might be handling a lot of transactions online, or doing your accounting on the computer, but there will still be some ‘old school’ methods that require a level of security. For instance, you might receive business checks or need to write them to pay your suppliers, manufacturers or growing team of workers. So, make sure you’re using business checks that are tamper-proof and easy to align with your accounting system.
Track your time
Tracking your time as a start-up is a good idea – not necessarily to serve as a motivational or accountability tool, but simplyas a way of seeing how long tasks are actually taking you. Do you need to adjust your pricing if your services are taking longer than you’re billing your customers or clients for? How much time do you spend answering emails, making phone calls and doing administrative work, and do you need to adjust your profit margins to account for this?
Keep an eye on the competition
While you were establishing your start-up, you’ll have conducted some market research. But, it’s important to have a vague idea of what your competitors are up to as you continue to grow. Are they releasing new products or services you aren’t offering right now? What are their current prices? And what are their customers saying? Of course, you shouldn’t get too caught up in what other businesses are doing, but knowing the answers to these questions can help to inform and guide the choices you make everyday.
Don’t overlook the foundations
Finally, it’s important you’ve done your foundation work. This includes completing tasks such as establishing the legal structure for your business (will you register as C Corporation or an LLC, for example?), defining shareholder agreements, registering patents and understanding trademarks. It all sounds boring, time-consuming and perhaps even a little intimidating – but it’s absolutely vital that you get these tasks completed so that you have a strong foundation to build on.
Take these top tips on board and see if it makes the process of growing your start up to a fully fledged business that little bit smoother.