1. Have a solid business plan
Planning plays a crucial role in any business success. A business plan is a good place to start – defining your skills and weaknesses, what you offer, how it’s unique and how you plan on growing your offering. What’s more, try to prepare yourself mentally and practically for anything that could go wrong and how you would deal with it. For example, what happens if you get injured? What if clients pay you a month late? What if a weather disaster affects you? Or a trusted supplier goes bankrupt?
2. Prepare for financial challenges
Most of the 600+ small businesses we interviewed in the Santam start-up survey said that cash flow was by far their biggest challenge. Deal with cash flow blows by saving for a month’s worth of expenses or by getting creative with how you lower your overheads.
You could offer clients a discount if they pay a deposit or the full amount upfront, or even an incentive – e.g. pay 10% less if you deliver your product or service a week earlier. Whatever you do, be extremely careful of debt – this is one of the biggest killers of small business success.
3. Be frugal – remember you’re a start-up
Resist the temptation to splash out on fancy offices, expensive equipment and over-the-top marketing. Your company’s livelihood depends on what’s in your wallet so every rand and cent must be triple-checked. Maintain a low overhead and manage your cash flow effectively. For one of our 1001 days survivors Jamie Pike, this meant foregoing a physical shop at first and selling his wares at a market; for design duo JesseJames it meant sharing their premises with other small businesses.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There are loads of resources out there for networking, knowledge sharing and advice. Networking is not just for new business opportunities; it can be a wonderful source of support and fresh ideas. Attend events such as Leaderex (free master classes) and My Biz Expo (free if you register before a certain date). Don’t hesitate to ask for advice from those around you (such as your intermediary, bank manager, landlord or neighbouring businesses), or online forums and Facebook community groups in your area.
5. Put your faith in a trusted mentor
It can be a family member, former boss or colleague or even a trusted online source or blog. A mentor is an invaluable sounding board – someone who’s been where you are; someone with whom you can have regular, non-judgmental check-ins.61.9% of respondents in our survey didn’t have mentors – however those that did said that they found mentors to have a significantly positive impact on their businesses.