Why do some start-ups thrive and others struggle after just a few months? No matter how good your idea is or how passionate you are about your pet project, ultimately you’ll need to make money to grow further.
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources on-hand to support budding business owners, from start-up accelerators, to specialised courses, and even websites like Hiscox Informed, which provide level-headed guidance on managing the risks to your business.
The Start-Up Academy are one such organisation. Below, Anick Akbar, who runs courses at the Academy, shares his seven top tips around what makes a successful start-up. These tips were taken from an entrepreneurship workshop delivered on behalf of Hiscox to a group of bloggers interested in turning their passion into a full-time business.
Manage your time effectively
Time management is at the core of productivity. Every Monday morning, spend 30 minutes to an hour planning the forthcoming week. Prioritising your time based on the business value of the tasks at hand, will mean important tasks will get done. Try not to push back mundane tasks or things you don’t enjoy – get these done as soon as possible.
Save money, make money
Always find new ways to keep costs low, without sacrificing the quality of your products and your infrastructure. So rather than cutting back on the budget for your website or training for your team, drive down your ongoing overheads e.g. save money across your utilities by comparing deals from different suppliers and only print documents when you need to.
Know when to delegate
Starting a business can be very intellectually stimulating as you have the opportunity to widen your skillset by learning new things and becoming involved in different aspects of a new business. However, it is important to understand when to delegate certain tasks to a member of the team who is better skilled. Each member of the team should work to understand exactly where their strengths are and work together to ensure that every task within your company gets completed by the person with the best expertise.
Grow intelligently, not rapidly
As you start to generate revenue it may be tempting to move to a larger office as soon as possible and hire staff immediately to increase your productivity. Increasing the size of your operation certainly has its benefits, but initially this comes at a price. You need to factor in the additional overheads and the time it would take to train a new member of staff. When you are sure that your cash flow can absorb this initial cost of growth, you can begin to grow your business.
Meet people, network, share ideas
There is a culture of sharing and collaboration among the start-up community. Networking events and social media can give you the chance to meet other start-up owners who will be happy to give you help and advice based on their own experience. Having a regular exposure among other start-ups also provides an opportunity to form valuable partnerships.
It can be very easy to become consumed under the workload of your business. Long episodes of work without adequate rest can be detrimental not only for your work rate, but more importantly your health. Give yourself days off and take scheduled holidays, where you should spend time away from everything to do with your business. When you’re back at work, eat well and exercise regularly. Exercising releases endorphins into the bloodstream, which induce a natural state of alert and awareness. A morning jog before the start of your day will help you be productive throughout the day.
Look after your finances
Not keeping a comprehensive cash flow is a common reason start-ups fail. Keep a note of all the expenses associated with your business as well as a historic list of all the invoices you have been paid for. At the end of each month, crunch some numbers and find out how much profit you have made and where you can save money.
Whilst you’re busy planning the logistics of starting a small business, there are things that can slip your mind. Managing the risks that SME’s can face is key to ensure the smooth running of your business. Small business insurance can help to ensure that your business is protected so you can focus on the day-to-day running of your start-up.
The Start-up Academy provides support and resources for budding entrepreneurs. The team offers one-day workshops, looking at customers, processes, growth and finance, as well as advice on where to find funding. Services also include banking, events, marketing, IT and utilities, keeping all business bases covered.
Thinking of starting your own business? Get more insight into the mindset of the UK’s small business owners with our DNA of an Entrepreneur report.