Updated: Jul 17, 2019
An important part of starting a business involves mitigating the potential for pitfalls
As the old cliché goes, it’s important to make a good first impression; however, in business, it’s essential. Although the excitement of a good idea and a strong work ethic are both excellent catalysts to getting your start-up off the ground, there are many more things to consider. A successful start-up requires a solid foundation that includes flexibility, good communication, thoughtful strategy, and a strong understanding of what you do and why.
A start-up involves more than funding, logistics, and a business plan, although all of those are important. While your fledgling business is preparing to leave the idea incubator and take flight, it’s in an extremely vulnerable state. Even a seemingly small oversight or misstep can have dire consequences on the prospect of a successful future.
According to a study by Statistic Brain, the failure rate of U.S. companies after five years was over 50 percent, and after 10 years, it rose to over 70 percent. Those figures may seem disheartening, but they actually speak to the importance of being thoroughly prepared – beyond the business basics.
Starting your start-up
So how can you increase the odds so that your business flies high? Make sure you have the following before launch:
A practical long-term plan: Everyone has a plan to get started and gain momentum, but do you know what you’ll do once the initial activity levels out? Not only should you have a one-year, five-year, and ten-year business plan, but you should also have SMART goals to fulfill those plans. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based goals. Break each individual goal into those categories so that you have a road map for how to achieve them.
A cohesive image: Branding is absolutely vital to the endurance of any business. It conveys professionalism and fosters brand recognition, which will hopefully lead to brand loyalty. Make sure your logo and tagline are polished and appropriate for future growth, and that all company collateral and your online presence matches. Create a style guide for your social media that includes guidelines for images, tone, hashtags, and scheduling, as well as a plan for growth.
Clear communication: Communication is vital in everything from customer service to company culture. Set the standards for how ideas are expressed, complaints are handled, and messages are shared. Create an environment that encourages authenticity, accountability, and integrity, starting with management. Most difficulties can be avoided or fixed with open and honest dialog, so start early and often.
A plan for the worst: No one wants to dwell on the negative, but anything can happen. Mitigate the potential for professional damage by predicting the worst and putting safeguards in place. Do you have insurance that covers everything from slip and falls to security breaches? A disaster plan? Legal representation that you can trust? Find these things before you need them, and hope that you won’t.
An ability to adapt: Okay, you know all those plans you’ve made? Be prepared to pivot away from them as necessary. The ability to innovate is an essential component of success. Whether that means recognizing that it’s time to hire new staff before you had previously intended or being willing and able to delegate major tasks to someone better equipped than you are, you need to maintain awareness and think outside of the box to solve potential problems before they arise.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but it has the potential to be rewarding in both a personal and professional sense. Be realistic about potential pitfalls and have a plan in place to avoid or handle them. Most importantly, conduct yourself with integrity, maintain high standards for what you hope to achieve, surround yourself with like-minded individuals, and communicate authentically to transition your initial lift-off into an ongoing journey.