Your first year of business isn’t going to be a cakewalk. If you become a successful millionaire at the end of the year, you probably have a fairy godmother. The good news is that it’s not just you – it’s equally tough for everyone. Many other businesses manage to succeed, and you can do the same if you’re prepared to overcome the obstacles that will inevitably fall in your path. Just understand what’s coming up around the bend, and arm yourself with the right tools to strike down these obstacles as they present themselves.
1. Crafting a Sustainable Company Culture
How can you lead your employees by example if you aren’t even sure what you’re doing yet? Running into problems establishing a culture is completely natural, but it can’t go on for long. Culture keeps your employees organized, and you need everyone on the same page. Think about what you expect from your employees, and reward their behavior. Do you need forward thinking self-starters? Use actions demonstrative of this behavior as an opportunity to demonstrate your appreciation. Everyone else will begin to follow suit.
2. Failing to Stick to your Mission
There’s nothing wrong with being flexible, but there’s a lot wrong with snapping in half. You may find out your vision isn’t translating into the results that you want, and that may lead you to make compromises to stay afloat. When you make too many compromises, you spread yourself too thin. You’ve lost the vision that made you unique. Instead of making major changes, value and apply feedback from your customers. Expand your original vision, rather than shifting it.
3. Lacking Valuable Connections
If you’re stagnating, you aren’t networking enough. If you aren’t surrounded by similar business owners who you can exchange products and services from, you cannot grow. Improve your networking efforts, especially during the first year of business. Talk to other local businesses about teaming up. Create and maintain a LinkedIn profile you can use to connect with other entrepreneurs.
4. Creating a Memorable Brand
Branding is, ultimately, what will make or break you. You can provide the best product or service on the planet, but if it doesn’t become iconic, people are going to forget all about you and remember your competitor that brands better. The key to overcoming this obstacle is paying close attention to that competitor. What are they doing to make their brand recognizable? What are your strengths, and how do they differ from those of your competitor? Lead with your strengths.
5. Figuring Out How to Pay Yourself
This is a mistake that so many new business owners make. Every few dollars you make seems like it’s already accounted for. You want to sink it back into your business to keep things going. Unless you plan on sleeping in the office and eating out of the trash, you have to pay yourself. Even if it’s a bare bones salary that keeps your power on and your mouth fed, that’s enough. Think about things this way: how is your business going to survive if you don’t? You may not be able to live in luxury, but you cannot afford to deprive yourself of the basic necessities. If you have to, work a little more and hire a little less.
Remember that it could be years before your business is completely off the ground. You’re not failing – you’re embarking on a difficult venture that will provide you with fruitful rewards for your patience. Don’t let tough times discourage you. You’ll never make it if you give up.