It is no secret that start-up entrepreneurship is not a walk in the park. Setting up a new business and becoming your own boss is an immensely challenging but, thankfully, satisfying experience.
However, what many wanna-be entrepreneurs do not realise is that one has to get the start-up poised for success right from the start. It’s a lot like sprinting; you have to have an explosive start. On that note, here is a check-list of to-dos that will get your start-up in shape for success.
1. Evaluate how good your business concept is. Before you do anything, ask people who owe you no allegiances for you cannot rely on the opinions of family or friends – they would tell you that you are a great singer without batting an eyelid!
2. Do your homework thoroughly. Before you open your doors for business, research and understand your potential customers, existing competitors and target market.
3. Make realistic forecasts and projections. The key word here is realistic. Make sure that your sales forecasts are as close as possible to actual figures in your field of business.
4. Identify your break-even point. Make it a weekly target and find out exactly how much you need to make in sales to hit it. You will know how viable your venture is beforehand.
5. Understand that cash flow is a key challenge. The initial costs of setting up will be heavy so you better have enough capital to sustain your business through these trying times.
6. Keep accurate business records from the start. You can use accounting software; these records will come in very handy in the future when you wish to obtain outside funding.
7. Learn your government regulations. Websites like business.gov.au will teach you everything you need to know about the regulations that apply to your field of business.
8. Take a lawyer out to lunch. Learn about business structures, particularly the legal and financial liability of each. Also find out your legal compliance obligations and employment contracts. You don’t have to become a Harvey Spector, just get familiar with the basics.
9. Get in touch with a savvy accountant. You need to understand your basic tax obligations. Tax season is often a minefield for many start-up entrepreneurs. Some unwittingly dodge some taxes, while others pay more than they owe!
10. Recruit a business coach. A mentor who has ‘done it all before’ will help you make tough objective calls. As a start-up founder, you can easily lose perspective and the advice of a trusted third party will be valuable in bringing you back on track.
Ben Ross joined MYOB in September 2012 as the General Manager of User Experience & Design. Ben previously lived in San Francisco where he was CEO of Quotify, a start-up which helps homeowners find reliable local tradespeople – acquired by Sensis in 2010.