You’ve probably heard that your first year of owning a business is always the hardest. This probably applies to a lot of things, but it’s definitely true for running a company.
Of course, you may never have a truly easy year, but if you don’t make it through that first year, the others obviously won’t happen. And if you don’t make it through with flying colors, you may not even feel like you want to even continue. That’s why the following advice is so important.
Keep It Simple
Your first year should be about simplicity, which means remaining focused on the business you started and what it’s about. Now is not the time to explore other income streams, different markets or new approaches. While you don’t need to be completely inflexible, it’s vital that you stay on task and keep to your original goals. There will be more than enough time to consider everything that’s possible. Your first year is about getting the initial idea off the ground.
Get Creative with Finances
During your first year in business, you may need an injection of capital more than once. This is when most people will think to go to the bank and ask for a loan. Unfortunately, many of you may be disappointed in their response. Later on in the life of your business, getting money may not be a problem. Right now, though, you might not look very attractive to a lender. Instead, get creative. Look to friends and family members. Start a crowdfunding campaign. These methods definitely involve more risk, but you’ll also probably have a lot more luck with them.
Know Your Resources
It’s truly sad how many entrepreneurs voluntarily take on the lone wolf persona without understanding how many resources are out there and readily available. There’s no glory in flying solo if it means you fail. Instead, look to your local chamber of commerce, check out SCORE, the U.S. Small Business Administration, government programs, university programs, incubators and even local entrepreneurs who may take you under their wing.
Just because your business is the center of your universe doesn’t mean the same can be said for everyone else. It’s surprising how many business owners open their doors (or launch their website) assuming that there will be a line around the block.
If you don’t make some noise for your business, don’t expect anyone to know about it. In today’s day and age, you have social media platforms galore, email lists, websites and a number of other tools you can use to get the word out, so be sure you do. Later on, word of mouth may make up a major portion of your marketing. Right now, you need to do all the heavy lifting yourself.
Most of all, be honest with yourself. Do you love your business? This first year is going to put you to the test. By the end of it, you’ll most likely have a good idea. If you find out it’s not really your passion, cut your losses before it just becomes another job.