Today marks my first year registered as a business!! Hooray!
This is a HUGE milestone for me and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come in such a relatively short period of time. I won’t officially say “I’ve made it” yet. There is still a long way that I would like to go to build up my business and expand my reach towards helping as many entrepreneurs as I can. I know with certainty that it’s not all smooth sailing from here and just as there have been tough times before, they will come again. That’s the nature of being in business.
But for today, I will celebrate the successes I’ve had along the way, thank anyone who has been part of that journey with me, and look at the year ahead with anticipation!
Do you want to know how to survive your first year of business?
As I look back over the past 12 months, I’ve picked out 10 important things I’ve learned along the way. I’d like to share the first 5 with you today…
1. listen to your clients and understand their needs
It’s easy to be passionate about our ideas. Sometimes the first idea that we have won’t be quite right for our target market. The only way to find out for sure is to spend time getting to know them. And I mean REALLY know them! Walk in their shoes and take every opportunity you can to learn about them. How? Have a conversation!
When I first started going, I interviewed 40 different entrepreneurs to learn about their challenges, the support they already had access to, and what types of products or services would suit them best. I learned the language that they use. I learned about things they will spend money on even when money is tight. I tested my assumptions and challenged my own perceptions. It takes time, but market research is vital to success!
2. take on feedback and adjust where necessary
As with my first point, listening to your clients is so important. They will give you a lot of the information you need for you to best give them what they need. Ask for feedback periodically so that you can adjust things where necessary. Ask about the user experience of your website. Ask about what satisfied them with your product or service. Ask about what disappointed them. Make a list of the questions that are important for you to know the answers to and then just ask!
Even if you are fortunate to have 100% satisfied customers, requesting periodic feedback may give you insights to new offerings. Earlier this year I piloted some changes to my 1-on-1 support program Six Steps to Getting Strategic. From the participant feedback I received along the way, I was able to make a few tweaks and have some really successful tools that I now use with every client.
3. get to grips with your finances
I know some of your eyes may now be glossing over and some of you may want to skip over this section entirely, but this is the harsh reality of business. You must understand basic money-in and money-out calculations. How much do you need to pay on a monthly basis in order to run your business? Once you’ve worked out that number, you can then determine how much you need to charge on a monthly basis in order to cover your costs. Take that figure, divide it by the price you’re currently charging for your product or service, and that’s the minimum number of sales you need to make each month.
If you’re thinking “there’s no way that will happen” then check out this post!
4. follow up with people
I know how frustrating it is when people don’t respond when they say they will. I also know how upsetting it can feel when someone says no. However, I have also been pleasantly surprised by people who I thought weren’t interested and then after a quick email or phone call to check in, they’ve signed up for a program. Please don’t assume that radio silence always means the worst. Sometimes you’ve just fallen off someone’s radar and they need a gentle reminder that you’re still out there.
5. balance delivery with business development
It’s so exciting once you do get clients on board. We get caught up in the moment of delivering our products and services, money is coming in, and sometimes we forget that we need to continually build up the pipeline for future business. Set aside time for networking events, industry conferences, and for following up on leads. If you can strike a balance between delivery and business development, you should be able to reduce ‘feast or famine’ scenarios.
that’s not all!
To help you survive your first (and second!) year in business, I created a FREE checklist to lay out all the steps you need to be taking to get your startup off the ground.
No more time wasting. No more uncertainty. The exact steps for you to follow and in the right order.
over to you
As always, I’d love to hear from you. What have you learned during your startup journey? If you’ve been going for awhile, what would you say to your younger self? Leave your comments below and let us know!