Our startup survival guide series continues with Part 2: Setting up shop. Now that you’ve done the research and set up a business plan (covered in part 1), it’s time to get into the details of your your financials, location, and running test trials for your startup business.
Pay Attention to the Details
Just as some startups skip writing a business plan, many also neglect their financial statements until they’ve lost sight of their cash flow. Hopefully they’ll realize something is wrong before they run out of money altogether.
Anthony Desimone, a business consultant who works with companies in crisis, strongly recommends that first-time owners learn to read their income statement and balance sheets. If you’re finding it difficult, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional. In fact, bring your financial statements with you and have an expert explain it line-by-line. You might even want to find someone like Anthony who can help you forecast your cash flow so you know what to expect down the road.
Similarly, don’t neglect pertinent legal issues either. For example, make sure that your employee contracts are drawn up correctly.
Choosing a Location
If you’ve done your research and written a business plan, then you probably have a sense of the kind of workspace your startup needs and what your budget can afford. That research might also give you some other important pointers too. For instance, if you’ve taken a deeper look at your ideal customers, then you might have gleaned information about where those customers congregate and spend their time – a potential location which could make them more accessible to you.
Here at Boxer, we recommend choosing a location not just for what it currently offers, but also for its ability to adapt and grow with you. If the infrastructure at that location is able to support modern technology now, will that still be the case in 2 years? 5 years? If you need to make changes to the space further down the road, will the property managers be accommodate you? Choosing the right location is one of the most important decisions you can make, so once again, make sure you do your research.
Tests & Trial Runs
If you’ve completed all of the previous steps, you might be feeling like your startup is just about ready to open its doors for business – but don’t be too hasty. Chances are, you’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and probably even your life savings into this business. Doing a few trial runs first can help you fine-tune your launch and give you the best start possible.
Look for opportunities to meet with potential customers and use their feedback to refine your sales pitch. For example, Anthony volunteered to mentor other business owners – people who fit the profile of his ideal client – before he quit his day job to open his own consulting firm. By interacting with potential customers beforehand, Anthony learned that the main service he wanted to offer these potential clients wasn’t the service they were most interested in. As a result, he was able to refine his sales pitch by determining which services he should lead with and which products should follow.
Doing some test runs can also help you collect testimonials from satisfied customers and create word-of-mouth advertising that will bring in further customers.