The first 100 days: Things you need to get right the first time around when starting a new business
By Neil Petch, chairman of Virtuzone, one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing company set-up operators in the region.
December 3, 2013 2:33 by kippreport
I have founded two companies and helped a few others get off the ground, and although I am not even close to being done with my entrepreneurial endeavors, it’s safe to say that in the process I have had my fair share of successes, challenges, failures and, as a result, some very valuable lessons. Some of them relate to the business knowledge and experience we all gain in time, others are more about building a stronger character and adjusting your attitude.
Starting a business, as we know, begins with the paperwork: Choosing the appropriate business structure and jurisdiction, and getting a business license. Once that’s done, you’re officially in business and the first 100 days of being in business sets the foundation for what’s to come.
There are many dicey situations you’re faced with when running a business. The most important thing is to be able to cut through the confusion and uncertainty, then find a solution and when you have to count your losses and move on. In theory, this sounds sensible and easy enough, but, in reality, things are never as clear-cut.
Here’s what you need to know during the first 100 days:
Customers matter: You’re not in business until you have customers. The people buying and paying for your products and services represent the most important driver for your business. So, all of your efforts should be concentrated on building and maintaining a customer base. Some companies prefer to keep themselves small by having a lesser number of clients and that may be very lucrative if the volume of services or products is large. However you choose to grow your customer base, so make sure that the loss of any customer’s business does not affect you to a large degree. Any client whose business represents as high as 20 per cent of your billing should be a concern.
Eyes on the profit: The profit is the bottom line, so you need to know the costs of running your business and do all you can to ensure your financial status is positive. Let’s say you made your calculations and it’s clear you cannot make a profit in the first year, you will need to be practical and determine the financials for the next year in a realistic manner. Without making a profit, your business will not sustain itself.
Keep your head in the game: It’s very common to get distracted. Sometimes you get distracted by too many details and daily tasks, and lose track of your bigger goals and priorities. Other times, it’s a new idea all together, which all of a sudden may seem so much better and promising than what you’re currently doing. Keep your focus on the business at hand, the one you committed to make a success.
Set goals for the first 100 days: Running a new business is very stressful and demanding, it will wear you down and unfortunately there won’t be any time off to look forward to. So what keeps you running, motivated and energised? Achieving your goals. That’s why setting a 100-day plan with key milestones you need to achieve is essential. It may be hitting a significant billing target, or winning a certain number of clients. Whatever it is, setting goals and reaching them will keep you alert – it will be your biggest reward. Without these goals, you’re just muddling through and that often leads to failure.
Cause and effect: Passion, enthusiasm and drive are among some of the key entrepreneurial traits. You need these to thrive. However, at the same time, you need to develop a toned-down manner of running your business on a daily basis. This is the way you can make sure you reach out to people, make connections, build trustworthy relationships, meet a mentor, convince potential investors to support you with funding, essentially to help everyone get a sense of who you are and what your business is about. Slowing down is at times necessary; you can always pick up the speed when you have got the right partners along.
Get all of the advice you can: Running a business can feel a bit isolating. After all, you only have yourself and possibly your partner(s) to rely on. Try to be open about the way you present yourself to others and the way you interact too. There are many people out there willing to share words of advice and their own experiences, and we all know nothing beats what you know to be true through experience. So, get all of the advice you can and make sure you get it before you’re in any kind of trouble.