How to make the first 6 months in a new business as successful as possible

It is always exciting to start something new, but the patience and planning needed to keep it going are major skills. With all sorts of things to juggle and balance.

Manage cash flow

Cash flow is king to every new business. Each step towards growth needs to be funded. It is disheartening to have a roadmap for growth mapped out but have to wait to take the next step because there isn’t enough money in the business to fund it.

One common cause of cash flow problems is late payment of invoices. Money that’s needed to invest is tantalisingly close, but just out of reach.

Smart ways to manage cash flow include having short invoice payment terms, chasing late payers vigorously, researching all customers to ensure their viability and taking a type of finance called ‘invoice finance’ which is secured against unpaid invoices.

Get an accountant

Many small business owners think they can go it alone when it comes to financial management. They might see accountants as an expense they can’t afford early on, or might think they have all the required skills.

Both approaches are flawed. Accountants have a myriad of skills beyond book-keeping. They can help identify funding sources, act as a mentor for business growth plans, even be a troubleshooter. And they’ll want the business to succeed because it’s good for their own business.

Moreover, time a business owner spends on ‘doing the books’ and other finance-related tasks, is time they can’t spend on other aspects of the business. It is probably not cost efficient.

Plan, plan, then plan some more

There are so many possibilities with a new business that it is tempting to pursue what is fun, easy, or most lucrative. But these might not be the best things to focus on. The only way to know for sure is to have a clear, robust plan of action.

Plans should be living things, not fusty old documents. Take time out once a week to review the last seven days, and think about what should happen in the next seven. Forecast possible problems and plan ways to deal with them. Look at the finances, the workforce, marketing and promotion and what the competition is doing overall.

Then cast an eye further ahead at the next big milestone goal and chart progress towards it. By doing these things regularly resilience is built in to the day-to-day.

Get the tech right

Almost every new business needs to be online. How that’s implemented will vary, but a web site, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram will likely be the absolute basics. There will also be local online listings sites to get involved with.

While a web site can be fairly static, much of what happens elsewhere online is interactive. A Twitter account that doesn’t tweet gives a bad impression. A Facebook account with no friends is a sad thing indeed. Finding the right balance of time to spend on social media will reap rewards.  

Always be professional

Work out what being professional is and then live it every day. Be responsive on the phone, be polite, deliver on time, be honest. These qualities can help a business stand out from the competition when other factors are more evenly matched. Presenting a positive public face is just part of the job.

Being professional is also about doing what’s required even when it is not exciting. Embrace the graft, because that’s what will make the business a success.  

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