If you’re in the startup phase of an entrepreneurial venture, you know there are many moving pieces and many aspects of your business to consider. While it can feel overwhelming, there are some aspects of your business that are more important than others. To make sure the time and resources you invest in your business are used wisely, explore these 5 foundational pillars that are critical for building a strong startup.
- Sound financial management skills
While founding your company with a solid cash outlay can increase your chances of success, starting with a lot of cash won’t matter if you can’t manage your money well. Making poor financial investments or failing to plan for revenue downturns can leave your business on shaky ground. Make sure you have a good financial plan in place that includes strong money management habits. If you want to start a business but financial management isn’t your strong suit, consider contracting your business finances out to an accountant or firm with a good head for numbers.
- A dedicated leadership team
With any startup, there will be challenges and unexpected setbacks. Dedication will be important for your key leadership team to help weather those storms. If your team abandons ship at the first sign of distress because they aren’t adequately prepared for these challenges, your startup may be short-lived. While your leadership team doesn’t need to be deep, you will want to have a few core team members who can help you generate new ideas and act as a soundboard for the future direction of your company.
- A solid business plan
If you’ve heard that a business plan is only needed once you are looking for angel investors, you’re shortchanging yourself and putting the success of your startup at risk. The process of compiling a business plan helps to ensure you have solid systems in place and helps you think through aspects of your startup that you might not have considered otherwise. A solid business plan should include, at a minimum, a competitive analysis, marketing plan, SWOT analysis, and a 3-year financial projection.
- A marketing mindset
Marketing is about communicating value to the people who are willing to listen. Starting your company with a marketing mindset is understanding this definition of marketing and how companies can provide and communicate value to a target audience. While you may have a new or creative idea, it won’t necessarily result in a viable business unless you can market it successfully. Start by understanding your target audience and what they need, then work to explain how your product fills that need using the language your target customers would use. When communicating value to these customers, be sure your marketing message is clear, succinct, and differentiates your offering from that of your competitors.
- Time management strategies
In the early stages of your startup, it can be very easy to spend considerable time working “in” your business instead of “on” your business. Unfortunately, spending time on low return activities can be a death sentence to a fledgling company. As a business owner, you will need to strategically manage your time to ensure that you are investing in activities that will have long-term, growth-oriented results. Depending on your business goals and where you are in the business lifecycle, your time management strategies will focus on different aspects of your business, but remember to stay focused on tasks that can’t easily be delegated to others. To ensure you are managing your time well, initiate a weekly time tracking system. At the end of the week, evaluate how much time you spent on activities that pushed you towards your designated goals.
By ensuring that you have key resources in place for each of these 5 foundational pillars, you will give your start up the best chances of long term success. Evaluate each of these areas in detail and develop a plan to fill in the gaps for any resources that are currently lacking in your business plan.