How To Survive The First 6 Months Of Your New Startup
The first few months of setting out to start, run, and grow a successful new business can be the most challenging period of an entrepreneur’s journey. Most times it spans beyond the 6 months gestation period, but the founder’s resilience and wit to reach a fine line between building a great product and growing a large number of customers who desperately need the solution it offers is key to surviving the first 6 months and even more, for any new startup.
So much investment, time, focus, and energy is put into this early period. The essence of survival and growth is more than emphasized at this stage, and the ability to break things, make mistakes, and quickly move on from them, will have you better experienced and vastly informed to determine what your target audience wants and doesn’t, in the shortest possible time.
But before you set out to launch that new startup, here are some things you should do first:
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1). Carry Out A Research:
A preliminary market research is a key to knowing the potential size of your target market, what percentage of them needs your products or services, their age brackets, demographics, gender, average income, and more.
Carrying out a research lays the facts on the table and gives you a clearer picture of what to expect or not from the industry your new startup is setting out to potentially disrupt.
2). Draw Up a Business Plan or Maybe Not:
There are many cases where a business plan is required, and there are even many more cases where a business plan isn’t required. Depending on the industry, your fundraising methods, and what you intend to achieve, you may be required to prepare a business plan or not.
For instance, banks and even some venture capitalists may require that you submit a business plan to them for a review before they may even think of making any financial commitments to your business. In other instances, investors just want a pitch deck that answers a few questions and shows your potential growth path and metrics.
For a large part of the time, you won’t be required to write a business plan since your initial focus would be far-off getting a bank credit to run your new business, but focused rather on ensuring you have a direction at the beginning; prompting your team to come up with a plan that makes the take off as smooth as possible.
See Also: 10 Key Reasons To Write A Business Plan
How Then Do You Survive Your First 6 Months?
With hundreds of entrepreneurs launching a new business every day only to end up on the wrong side of history for other businesses to learn from, here are 10 ways to survive and dominate the first 6 months of your new startup:
1). Make Mistakes Fast:
Everyone dreads failure. No matter how it’s presented, there’s hardly ever going to be a person willingly waiting in line to be hit by it. But great entrepreneurs know their greatest fears shouldn’t be failing, but not failing on time.
Every failure is a lesson. It teaches you one way that doesn’t work. And for every time you miss an opportunity to get it right, you come out smarter than you previously were.
Making mistakes fast will let you know what works and doesn’t work for your new startup, sooner than later. It will help you jump by leaps and bounds, as fast you can, and will position your business for growth within the shortest possible time.
If you’re a new startup that’s just going through its first ride in the real world, making mistakes fast could be one of the best decisions you’d ever make.
2). Only Work With People Who Believe In Your Vision:
You can only go as far as your team. If they’re not as smart as is needed or as visionary as you are, when they reach the limit of their imaginations or motivation, your new startup would get stuck and trouble will set in.
When choosing co-founders or hiring employees, only go with people who completely believe in your vision. Steer clear of those whose knack for doubt and sheer disbelief is next to none. Their attitudes are contagious, and within a short time, could get every other member of your team in panic mode and asking questions that do nothing but breed fear and discouragement.
The right people will always help you go as far as possible. They hold you up when you’re down, come up with ideas to take a new customer acquisition approach, and can easily replace you in the business if a sudden need arises. Their personal goals are to ensure the success of the startup, and their actions coupled with their convictions are only always geared towards achieving a successful turnout of events.
3). Set A Budget:
Budgeting is one of the most overlooked topics by many new and growing startups. They spend their capital as it pleases them, after all, Startup B is doing the same. They focus more on looking cool for the media at the expense of sustaining their cash base, and when they realize they’re almost out of money, the reality of the cold startup world hits them, causing the team to scamper around in search of even more investors.
The thing with money is if you can’t measure it, you can’t control it. A budget is like a GPS. Without it, you don’t know where you’re going and can’t foresee your goals in a realistic and timely fashion.
To avoid the rot of uncontrolled expenses eating into the future of your new business and potentially rendering yours as another lesson for other businesses to learn from, set a budget from day one, so you can keep your expenditure in check.
Your customer acquisition rate and cost will determine a whole lot about the future of your business. More customers equal more revenues, and thus, more growth. Without a streamlined customer acquisition process in play, your new business will experience little to no growth.
For startups who may have figured out an effective customer acquisition channel, expanding your horizons, plying untested waters, and covering new grounds is highly crucial to the survival of your business.
You must always be on the lookout for more ways to acquire customers, as this will determine the long-term growth and success of your business.
5). Get A Sales Expert On The Team:
As earlier stated that customer acquisition is crucial to the survival of any business, the entire process is streamlined around sales.
Sales are the lifeblood of every business. Without it, you’d no revenues, without revenues you’d have no cash flow, and without cash flow you’ll be unable to cover your daily operational expenses, leading to the eventual demise of your business.
The best way to usually tackle the sales process head-on is to hire a sales expert, bring one onboard as a team member, or get one as a mentor. This individual would help you find your optimum selling strategy, build a sales funnel around your business, and when they’re done, you’d experience more unprecedented growth than you would have if you had tried to tackle it head-on alone.
One thing you could do if you can’t afford to have a sales expert on the team is to attend an advanced sales and marketing course. This will help you understand the basic foundation of sales and marketing, how to get started, and would in the process, help you build business skills you’d come to value in the long run.
6). Constantly Get Customer Feedback:
Since acquiring as many customers as possible is crucial to the success of every business, getting feedback from these customers is equally as important.
By getting feedback, you’d know where your products or services have lapses, where customers have problems with your business, what you’re doing right and wrong, and where you generally need to improve on.
You could go about this by sending an email survey to customers who made a purchase and also to prospects who didn’t get to complete their orders. In many other instances, you can put a call across to the customer after a couple of days since their last purchase to know how they feel about your business.
7). Study the Competition:
You should strive to find out what makes your existing competition succeed at what they do. You should be on the lookout and constantly review both your position and theirs in the market.
If you’re a new startup venturing into an industry with already successful players, a large part of your preliminary market research should be to gather enough data on your competition.
Find out how they’re making their sales, how much sales they’re making, who their largest customers are, where their strengths and weaknesses lie, what makes them very competitive, and how you think you can compete effectively in the same market.
By studying your competition and identifying everything that makes them what they are, taking a part of the market will be a whole lot easier.
8). Outsource All That You Can:
New startups like to handle everything in-house. In a bid to cut costs, they focus on covering every single aspect of running the business. The problem with doing this is it gives you lesser time to focus on what really matters, thereby slowing the time you’ve set out to reach your goals and keeping you a step behind the competition; if any.
You need to spend more time planning how you intend to acquire more customers, grow your revenues, and become a well-known brand, instead of channelling a bulk of your precious time into handling every single thing yourself.
If you spread yourself too thin, scaling quickly in the right way will become a lot slower to achieve.
9). Get Ready To Reinvest:
The first few months of running your new business shouldn’t be the time for you to earn fat salaries, go on expensive vacations, or spend on irrelevant things. This is the period to reinvest whatever the business generates.
By doing this, the new startup would grow larger and faster, giving you more hopes of a better eventual outcome. This process may very well have to occur for a period of one to two years, but ultimately ensures your business experiences a reasonable degree of growth every month for the next few years.
10). Network Strategically:
As a new business owner, it is important you attend networking events that will either help you get more clients, improve your understanding of your industry, or give you access to investors with interests in startups similar to yours.
Strategic networking ensures you don’t waste valuable time that could have been spent growing your business on attending events. It ensures that when you do head out to a gathering of entrepreneurs or like-minds, you’d always maximize your time.
To Sum It Up
Surviving the first few months for a new startup can be a relief to some. But for others, it’s no where close to success, but rather, a step in the right direction.
When you set out to start a new business, ensure you do an in-depth market research before going on to prepare a business plan or not. After which you should strive to build a great team, make mistakes fast, discover your optimum selling strategy, and do whatever else it takes, as stated in this article, to grow your business.
By inculcating an unrivalled determination and effort to get your startup growing in its early months of existence, surviving its first 6 months will eventually be an inspiring success story to tell.
What are your thoughts on how to survive the first 6 months of your new startup? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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This content was originally published here.