If, like many people, the end of the year has prompted you to evaluate your goals for 2019 and made you decide now is the time to get into business for yourself, you’re probably tempted to jump in and get started ASAP. However, keep in mind that when it comes to statistics about business failure, particularly in the early years, it’s common for startups to have to close their doors within the first 12 months. This can happen for many reasons but often has a lot to do with entrepreneurs not having done enough research and study before they opened.
To help ensure your venture is a success, it’s important to educate yourself on relevant business topics. Whether you enroll in a business degree, such as this William and Mary MBA program, or attend local workshops, read books, get a mentor or otherwise be proactive, the more you learn, the better your chances of succeeding as a leader and founder. Read on for some of the key topics that should be on your list to learn over the coming months.
As you would imagine, being well-versed at sales is important for all business owners, regardless of the industry their venture is in. After all, to get the startup success you want, you’ll need to convince lots of clients to buy your wares and then to keep spending money with you in the future, too.
Don’t think you can merely delegate or outsource sales functions, either. While you can use employees or external salespeople to do a certain amount of the day-to-day customer sales processes for you, as the head of your business you will always need sales skills yourself. This is because you’ll need to sell both yourself and your venture to other people on a regular basis.
For example, you’ll need to be able to sell investors or lenders on your business idea and show how it’s a good idea to have you as the firm’s manager if you want them to back your organization financially. You will also find yourself having to sell potential employees on coming to work for you, particularly when your business is in its infancy and you don’t have the same kind of salaries or perks to offer as other, more established firms. Sales skills are also beneficial when it comes to negotiating deals with suppliers, getting journalists interested enough to profile you and your business, etc.
Of course, another vital area of expertise for entrepreneurs is finance. When you take a look at the main reasons why so many businesses don’t make it past their first five years of operation, or why owners have to close their doors or sell at a later date, you’ll notice that a lack of cashflow is often the culprit. This happens when managers don’t keep expenses down and levels of savings high enough to pay their bills.
To avoid this happening with your startup, educate yourself on the key ins and outs of finance in a business. While no doubt you will utilize an accountant and potentially a financial planner and other experts to help you in your business, it’s vital that as the owner and leader of your venture you understand at the least the basics yourself. Through this, you will know what financial situation your organization is in, and you won’t get duped if you trust people you shouldn’t to handle monetary transactions and related paperwork for you.
You need to be able to track your incomings and outgoings each week and set and stick to a budget. You have to know how to read and understand numerous documents, too, such as balance sheets, profit and loss statements, tax returns, sales projections and so on. Also, keep a level head when it comes to what you spend business money on, and keep looking for ways to cut costs and increase efficiency over time, as this can make a real difference to your bottom line. It also pays to understand currencies, banking and international trading.
Branding is another topic you need to start wrapping your head around ASAP. While all marketing knowledge is rather essential, branding is particularly important at the startup stage when you’re deciding how to talk about your business and its wares and trying to generate interest from customers.
On top of branding your business, also think about how to effectively brand yourself as the head and likely face of your organization. Build a positive brand name for yourself in your industry by being reliable, knowledgeable, honest, credible, easy to work with and transparent.