The first year of business is nothing if not a testing experience. Here are some of our top tips for not just surviving but flourishing during those first twelve months.

Use Technology – Smart Solutions Help Businesses

Too many entrepreneurs, as bold and creative as they so often are, are resistant to technologies that have the potential to make enormous differences to their operations and processes. The app revolution is an obvious area where they may be an innovation already in existence that is cheap and simple to implement, but may nevertheless provide some valuable facility that would otherwise be impossible or costly. At a monthly or annual cost that is not remotely prohibitive, an essential service for online expense management is provided that will save working hours and outgoings, while improving organisation, communication and recordkeeping.

Develop a Flexible Business Plan

A strong business plan may serve a number of purposes – it can be crucial to garnering key financial investment; it can be unifying, helping to get different team members focused on the common goals; and of course it may play an important role in decision-making and strategy. But more often than not, the great unforeseen has its moment – probably very early on into the project – and that business plan is suddenly not worth the folder it was saved to.

Instead, then, consider a horizon format for your business plan, which will lay down the short-term expectations, the mid-term targets, and the long-term goals and ambitions. With the passing of each phase (or the arrival at each horizon) – perhaps ever three or four months during that first year – a review can be conducted on what has or what hasn’t been achieved (and why). At this point, new short-term expectations can be set, and new mid-term targets brought into focus.

Keeping nimble and on your toes is crucial to survival, so why not have a business plan that reflects this need for flexibility?

Develop Your Local Insight

We all know that golden rule about the value of location, location, location, but to what extent are you aware of how your business’s location – geographical or virtual – may influence success? So study, study, study the local forces at play – is there a school or offices nearby? What, when and where are the business opportunities? What is the behaviour of comparable businesses – can you learn from their model or from what they do or don’t do?

Be Responsive

The first year of business is the toughest. It is, then, essential that a flexible and dynamic approach be maintained. If the product isn’t getting the interest you had hoped, don’t blame the market. If the competition gets fierce, find where you are stronger. Adapt, using your experience and powers of observation to continue making decisions to pivot the way forward towards those long-term business ambitions.