It can be daunting to launch and scale up a start-up business for the first time. There are so many variables to consider and a similar number of pitfalls to safely negotiate. Despite all the challenges of entrepreneurship, there is nothing more satisfying than running and growing your own business. You’re the boss. You call the shots. You define your company’s future path.
If you’re doing this for the first time, it’s important to be open-minded about how you take your business forward. We’ve put together four essential tips to stand you in good stead for the coming months and years. Staying the course for the first few years is often the hardest task, but with this quartet of start-up tips, you can ensure the fundamentals of your business are sustainable.
Optimise customer support
As a fledgling business, one of your primary investments should be in delivering fast and transparent customer service. Most start-up businesses only get one opportunity to attract and delight their target demographic. Some ruin their chances by failing their customers at the first sign of trouble.
Poor responsivity and inadequate returns policies are just some of the customer support issues that plague new businesses. Make sure you have the head-space to dedicate to serving existing customers as well as prospects and if you don’t, employ someone that does!
By looking after your existing customers, you’ll stand a better chance of turning customers into long-term brand advocates.
Keep on top of your company’s finances
There are plenty of essential pieces of software that growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should lean on today to optimise their bottom lines. Start-up businesses need to find the right balance between risk and reward. You must maintain sufficient cash flow to ride out the turbulent weeks and months and invest enough to meet the demands of existing and prospective customers.
Cloud-based accounting software is useful for bookkeeping for two reasons. Firstly, it provides 24/7 accessibility to your business’ finances. Secondly, it readies your business for the impending Making Tax Digital deadline, when start-ups earning below the VAT threshold must submit quarterly digital tax returns. It’s also important to monitor business spending and get an overview of which departments are demanding the highest expenses. An expense management solution is therefore a necessary tool, with the ability to combine all active bank accounts linked to your business under one roof. You can then manage your liquidity and gain valuable, actionable insights on your day-to-day spending without the need for confusing spreadsheets.
Be open to receiving feedback
In a related note to the customer support advice, when it comes to receiving feedback from customers, embrace it. Think of it as free market research from your target demographic. Take the time to digest the positives and negatives of your service to date. Ring-fence some time to hone the negatives. If you forge ahead and blindly ignore the negative feedback, the chances are you’ll quickly lose custom – word of mouth spreads like wildfire, both on and offline.
Encourage customers to leave reviews of your goods or services online, via Google, or even on your social media pages. It can all help to cement your brand reputation. To increase your review strike rate, you could always incentivise customers by entering them into a prize draw or handing them a small reward like a gift card. A little ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
Don’t be afraid of growing your workforce
It can be a daunting prospect scaling up your start-up business. One minute you’re a sole trader and the next you’re employing people and entrusting others with the business that you worked so hard to build from the ground up. It is, however, possible to expand your business whilst maintaining the quality you demand from your customers. Establish a sustainable onboarding process for all new recruits. This allows you to comprehensively set out your stall for what you expect from their roles.
Employing your first staff member is the biggest step. Suddenly you’re having to earn enough to put food on the table for two households rather than your own. But make the right hires and your fears will soon be allayed and you’ll be too focused on growing your business further.
Play the long game, abide by the above principles and you’ll be well-placed to reap the rewards of growth for your start-up business.