8 key steps to get your startup off the ground

Starting a business may be exciting, however there are a few things that you need to make sure that you get right from the beginning.

Here are eight top tips for startup success that business expert, Carl Reader, shares in his new book, BOSS IT;

1. Make sure that you are cut out to be in business

Business ownership might seem glamorous, but it is also a far more thrilling rollercoaster than employed life – big highs are often followed by even bigger lows.

Make sure that you have a strong support network and are financially stable before jacking in the day job and going it alone.

2. Remember that best wishes don’t pay the bills

As much as we love having social media likes and full inboxes from supportive friends, it’s vital to stay grounded and to ensure that there actually is a market – a paying market – for your goods or services.

No-one close to you would ever want to hurt you, and often this permeates itself into a situation where they all say that they will be customers of yours… and then for whatever reason, they don’t. Do your due diligence on the opportunity and don’t just rely on friends and family stumping up their cash.

3. Start with the end in mind

The first piece of my fundamental model, ‘Dream- Plan- Do- Review’, is all around the dreaming process. You need to make sure that you have a big enough dream, that is compelling and motivating, so that you don’t feel the dreaded fear of waking up in the morning for yet another day at work.

On the flip side, your dream shouldn’t be too abstract and unachievable. You need to make sure that you hit the right balance here.

4. Planning – rather than the business plan – is vital

When we think of business planning, we think of hefty documents that are used to get a loan or to raise investment. Stop. Instead, think about the importance of the planning process itself, and the operational plan of how you will take your business from dream to reality.

Boss It - Carl Reader

By setting actionable steps that consider both dependencies and timescales, you will be able to make sure that you have a chance of achieving your goal of getting your business off the ground.

5. You must take action

In the old days I’d call it ‘wearing out the shoe leather’. That might not work so well in a socially distanced world, but regardless of how you do it, you need to find your customers.

You need to network with them online rather than wait for them to find your website. You need to call them rather than waiting for them to call you.

Put simply, there is no point sitting behind a desk for seven hours, aggressively waiting for the phone to ring. It won’t happen.

6. Be comfortable with where you will take the business

Not everyone is an entrepreneur at heart, and that is absolutely fine. Most business owners aren’t entrepreneurs. But, something that is really important to get your head around is the difference between self employment and business ownership.

Self employment relies on you, and ultimately you give yourself a job. It could be said that you go from working for a jerk to working for a maniac! But, if you get run over by a bus, then your income is significantly impacted.

On the flip side, owning a business means that you own an income generating asset that doesn’t rely on you – you will have a team, systems, processes and procedures that mean that you don’t need to ‘do the work’ to earn an income.

7. Understand the best role that you can take in your business

I touched on the fact that not everyone is an entrepreneur in my last tip. In fact, in the E-Myth Revisited, Michael E Gerber splits personality types into Entrepreneurs, Managers and Technicians.

Very broadly, in my four step Dream – Plan – Do – Review model;

  • the Entrepreneur is responsible for the Dream,
  • the Manager is responsible for the Plan,
  • the Technician is responsible for the Do… and most importantly,
  • all are held accountable for the Review.

Make sure that you are clear where you are comfortable and look to build any future team around it.

8. Don’t be afraid to take on extra help

You might be the world’s best car mechanic and know the difference between a V8 and a V12 (I don’t!), but it’s understandable that you might not know the ins and outs of business. After all, our schools don’t help.

Make sure that you learn about the basics of business – BOSS IT is a great start – and then find a team who can help you succeed. Sometimes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Carl Reader, small business expert and author of BOSS IT, published by Kogan Page, £9.99.

Last updated: 22nd February, 2021

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