Two weeks ago, I celebrated my first full year in business. It was a proud moment for me and I am still overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that I received from so many people.
We’ve all seen the bleak statistics – some even claiming that up to 90% of startups will fail. I know entrepreneurs who have met this fate despite putting their passion, blood, sweat and tears into their idea. Previously, I shared my first 5 tips on how you can set yourself up for success.
Today I have my second set of tips for you. Read these to learn how you, too, can survive your first year of business.
6. stay positive
If you’ve been following my startup confessions, you will have read that sometimes the journey is, quite simply put, shit. No matter what you try, sometimes you’ll feel like it’s not working. You’ll find that some of your assumptions were wrong. You’ll find there are things you didn’t think about at all. You may even have to change your business model entirely in order to give your customers what they really want.
Trying to stay positive is sometimes easier said than done and feeling down causes us to miss the signs when things ARE going well. I started to keep a daily log of all of the good things that were happening around me, no matter how small they may be. Whenever I was at particularly low point, I looked back on this log to remind myself of these early signs of life.
7. build up your resilience
I remember hearing to ‘Take the amount of time you think it’s going to take to get your business going and double it, maybe even triple it’. I remember thinking ‘That won’t happen! I’ll add a bit of padding to the schedule but I’m going to work REALLY hard and it will be different for me’.
The truth is that no matter how hard you work, it will take longer than you anticipate. You may have to talk to a lot of people before the first one says yes. You may need to show your face at a networking event a dozen times before people start to take you seriously. You may need to pick yourself up from a heap on the floor more than once.
Building up your resilience to adversity and rejection is crucial at this stage of your business. If you lock yourself up for weeks trying to pull yourself back together or you are unwilling to take on feedback, you’re simply not cut out for this. Get up, dust yourself off, and get on with it.
8. have spare cash for a rainy day
You’ll need to have enough cash to allow you this time (doubled or tripled!) to start your business. During a meetup I hosted earlier this year, I guided entrepreneurs through an exercise to help them understand exactly how much money they need for personal outgoings, how that translates into a salary drawn from their company, and how that salary along with other costs needs to be factored into the price of the products and services that the business provides.
If you’re sitting there thinking that it’s going to take a LONG time to get to that figure and don’t have spare cash to fall back on, then you need to start considering alternative sources of funding quickly. These may take the form of grants or capital investment, or you may even need to consider taking on a part-time contract to cover your basic expenses.
9. take a break sometimes
Our list of things to do can get so big that we wonder how we’ll ever get it all done. I get it. I, too, can sometimes fall into the trap of checking emails late at night, working on the weekends, or even writing blog posts while on a flight to New York (instead of catching up on sleep)!
However, I am also a huge advocate of occasionally taking a break from the business. When I go on holiday, I never bring a laptop with me. I use technology efficiently by scheduling tweets and blog posts in advance, using an out-of-office message on my email, making sure my clients know when I’ll be away and scheduling sessions around it, and outsourcing activities where I can.
Work out what things might help you take that break you deserve so that you can relax, refocus, and give yourself the headspace to come up with great new ideas.
10. build up your network of support
It’s so important to surround yourself with people who support you and your idea. I found it hard to transition into owning my own business. The friends and former colleagues I once leaned on for support didn’t understand what I was doing and couldn’t fathom why I would ‘start at the bottom’ again when my career was going so well. I often felt alone and a bit lost.
So I built up a new network. I hired my own coach to help me develop some areas where I felt stuck, I joined a few networking groups to find support from others, I set up a monthly community meet-up for other socially-minded business owners, and I allowed myself to be vulnerable by admitting when I needed help. These were some of the best decisions I could have made. Not only do I now feel safe and supported, but I usually leave events feeling re-energised and motivated to keep going, which is great for business!
over to you
What tips are you taking away that will help you? What have I missed? I always love to learn from you, so do leave your comments below and let me know what else is critical to startup success.