When you start a business, bumbling through simply isn’t enough. You need to go out to build a business that will work in the long term, or you’ll simply be setting yourself up to fail when something unexpected happens. It doesn’t even have to be an unexpected setback: unexpected success can derail an inexperienced, unprepared entrepreneur as effectively as failure. Rushing to expand too soon after a record breaking month can leave you overstretched and unable to serve your existing loyal customers or clients. Creating a big buzz around your services that you don’t have the ability to provide is a publicity victory followed by a solid real world defeat.
Today we’re taking a look at how you can build a business that will last the distance and not go off the rails in the first months.
The Right People
Hiring is one of the most important decisions you can make. You don’t just need warm bodies in your business. You need highly engaged professionals. You’re hiring skillsets, points of view, insights. If your executives aren’t challenging you, you’ve made the wrong decision. Work with executive search companies to get the best candidates for the job: people from a variety of backgrounds who want the business to succeed as much as you, but with an array of ideas about how to make that happen.
You need to be planning from before day one. Your business plan is an important document, to show investors and banks that you’ve thought about and researched the profitability of your business but you can take it further.
Use your business plan as a springboard to create plan Bs and plan Cs, to ensure you have a fallback position if things don’t go as planned. Make sure you’re prepared to survive if your revenue doesn’t reach your targets over your first year (maybe you need to close some branches or make some cuts – be ready, so you can do this with purpose rather than in desperation) or if you experience unprecedented success. Have plans for how to capitalise on your momentum rather than squandering it.
A rock solid business plan also makes it easier to stay true to the heart of your business. Forgetting the unique identity at heart of what you do is a sure recipe for failure. It could cause mission creep: an attempt to be all things to all men that unbalances your company. It could make it hard for consumers to connect with you and know what your company is and why they should use it. It certainly makes it hard to build a business for the long term.