Business StartUp Guide – The Key Facts
The starting point for any new high growth business is making sure that you have at least thought through as many of the issues you are going to come across as you can before you start. This is because there will be plenty of surprises after you have started. This article is about the key things that the normal business startup guide doesn’t tell you.
I work with a number of high growth businesses and as there are countless free books, guidance and web sites on the mechanics of starting a business I am going to concentrate on the things I have found that will make the difference between success and failure.
These points are in no particular order but in my experience you do need to have thought through each of them and have a plan to deal with them.
- Need: There is perceived need, a gap, latent demand, a radical or innovative approach or something that’s sets you apart from the competition.
- Passion: You are about to spend a lot of time working on your business. You need to do something that will get you out of bed when you are feeling low, sick and tired. You have to love it!
- Purpose: You have got to want to achieve something other than make money. Money is usually an end result and it won’t motivate your team. Find a purpose that will motivate others.
- Scalable Business Model: You need to be able to grow your business in a systematic way. The gap you have perceived needs to be big enough to grow your business into.
- Market Place Analysis: Ensure you are aware of your competition and what is on offer. Watch out for competing expenditure that your customer might consider when purchasing your product or service. Can they solve their pain or get achieve the gains by a completely different route.
- Intellectual Property (IP): Can you protect through legal means your idea or is it a case of running faster than the competition. Don’t ignore the benefits that IP protection can bring.
- Development Process: You need to have a clear understanding of how you are going to develop your new product or service. Don’t try to make it up unless you have a lot of time and money. Be clear on the process but be prepared to change (pivot) if circumstances demand.
- Audience: You have an established audience or you know or have the money to acquire a following quickly.
- Metrics: Get used to thinking of an idea, testing it and getting feedback through carefully selected metrics. Make changes to build in ideas that work.
- Fail Fast: Identify whether an idea is going to work or not quickly. Fail fast any aspects of the project (and that includes people) that are not going to plan. You have limited time and money, don’t waste them.
- Investment: You have access to the required investment or can earn additional cash to keep the project solvent.
- Financial Management: You may not have any money coming but you will have a lot of it going out. Get into the discipline of keeping and reporting on monthly profit & loss and cash flow.
- Time: You can create the time needed to work on the project or can pay people to do the work for you. But even project management takes time and so ideally your investment will allow you to work full time on the project.
- Support: You can’t know everything and mistakes cost valuable time and money. Look at who can mentor you in your network and consider taking on a business coach (somebody who can help you with the business not your personal life) or a more formal non-executive or outside director.
- Resources: There are a lot of skilled people out there and with web sites People per Hour, Freelancer.com etc and co-working spaces are rapidly growing and so it can be quick and easy to find good people for specialist tasks. This can be a very cost effective route to getting jobs done that you will do badly.
- Time Management: With a start-up you will have a lot to do with short timescales and so learn and practice your time management skills so that you do the most important tasks first. See – www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140818202408-512818-7-steps-to-high-personal-productivity
- Agility: The key to the success of a start-up is thinking and working in an agile way. Before you start, make sure you understand and can apply agile project management. See – www.linkedin.com/pulse/execute-your-strategy-faster-than-competition-peter-dickinson
- MVP: Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a term used in Agile and it describes the minimum number of features of the product or service you are going to launch. With agile it is important to launch with only enough to solve the customers’ must fix problems or give them sufficient gains for the investment to be worth while. This leaves time and money to incorporate feedback into version 2 (or 3 or 4!) as sometimes your product or services get used in ways that you hadn’t thought about.
- Product/Service Development Roadmap: Identify the features you will need and work out which month you are going to development them in. Ensure you are clear what needs developing when. Produce this on a spreadsheet and share it with the team.
- Objective Setting: Set yourself 30, 90 and 12 month objectives so that you are clear what you need to achieve and by when. Know what success looks like at each stage so that you can celebrate with the team. So that you keep the momentum going.
- Growth Action Plan: Develop a single page plan the shows how your objectives will translate into actions. Don’t go into detail. Capture the detail in cloud based task management software.
- Cloud Based Project Management Systems: Managing your time and prioritising your tasks is fundamental to your success. Find, learn and use a cloud based project management system that suits you. Consider using: Asana, Trello, Basecamp, Teamwork, Pivotal Tracker, there are a lot of proven systems out there.
- Messaging System: Instant messaging can be an invaluable tool. A lot of software developers use slack. But there is Whatsapp and even FB Messenger. Find one that works for you and the team.
- “A” Team: Create a virtual organisational chart which identifies the key positions that you will need to recruit for once cash flow will allow it. The people you recruit will need to be passionate and be motivated by your purpose. These will become your “A” team.
- Legal: Make sure you comply with all existing and anticipated legal or regulatory requirements.
- Problem Solver: Ultimately you need to be a fast and efficient problem solver as you will encounter many challenges on the way and it’s about how well you handle them that will make the difference between success and failure. Procrastination and doing nothing are never the best option. If you have a problem, deal with it.
- Health: Keep yourself in good shape. Eat healthily and do exercise. If you can’t get to the gym and you don’t have a sport you love, download an app on your phone that measures how many steps you have taken and make sure you do the recommended minimum. (I have mine set for 6,000 steps per day.) Look up “clean eating” if you want to eat healthily and not diet in order to maintain your weight.
I hope you find this article useful as a checklist of what the business startup guide doesn’t tell you. If you think I have missed something, please let me know.
As cash is very tight during start-up I offer an online coaching deal using Skype at £114 (£95+VAT) for up to a 1 hour online business coaching session.
Call me on 0333 050 9053 to identify a cost effective route to getting the mentoring/coaching/non-executive director support you need for your business to help you to be more successful.