As a business owner, you’ve probably seen dozens of lists out there that harp on all the potential “mistakes” and “pitfalls” of starting a business.
They aren’t wrong—but there’s definitely more to it than just focusing on the negative. If you follow these five pro-tips, you’ll add real value to your business, avoid many of the most common pitfalls, and be well on your way to a thriving venture.
1. Start with a Business Plan
Tackling a comprehensive business plan is a slog, but it’s well worth the effort. It is, quite literally, your roadmap to success, no matter what stage your business is in. (I recently revisited and beefed up my business plan, well after getting my firm off the ground!) Wherever you are in your business’ life cycle, a strong business plan is the best way to build the company of your dreams.
And the great news is: You Can Do This. There are plenty of top-notch resources available to you, many of which are totally free of charge. Start by checking in with your local Small Business Administration office. They have a bevy of resources that you can, and should, take advantage of. And when it comes to business plans, the internet is your very best friend. There are fantastic templates and guides out there, just a click away. So dig in, do the work, and enjoy the positive results!
2. Establish Clear Ground Rules through a Company Agreement
A new business is a lot like a new relationship. The excitement is palpable; the partners are inspired; and the future couldn’t feel any brighter. But what happens after the “honeymoon phase”?
Great companies often stay in business for years, or even decades. A good company agreement will set the ground rules for your long-term business relationship. It allows you to set your goals and responsibilities, understand how profits and losses are shared or allocated, and decide how members can join or leave the company. Establishing these rules from the beginning is the best way to streamline decision-making and avoid the kind of internal conflict that can ruin a great business.
3. Protect Your Ideas
Most businesses start with a great idea, but let’s be real: your concept, however creative, is probably not 100% unique or novel. The best ideas tend to build on other good ideas, concepts or business methods that are already out there.
Whatever the case may be, if it’s a truly good idea, someone else has probably already thought of it, and there are others clamoring to bring it to market! For that reason, a great businessperson will always take the time and effort to figure out whether they can bring their business to market without interfering with the intellectual property rights of other business owners. And if they truly have something special on their hands, they will do what it takes to protect that idea—before someone else comes along, takes it, and creates that protection for themselves!
4. Template Contracts: “Buyer” Beware!
Most business owners like to work with simple, easy-to-grasp contracts. They think, “this is short and sweet. Therefore, I can rest easy, knowing that there aren’t any hidden clauses or provisions to trip me up.” As a business owner and a business attorney, let me tell you: drop that notion as fast as you can, because more often than not, it is just dead wrong!
The scariest thing about a short, simple contract is not what you can see…it’s what the agreement does NOT tell you. And those unseen items are totally unique to your business and to each contractual arrangement associated with that business. Work with a strong business attorney to unpack the details of your business, in order to ensure that you and your venture are protected from all possible angles. This doesn’t mean every contract should be 50 pages long. But it does ensure that everything you need is right there on the page.
5. Grow and Thrive through Smart Delegation
This tip could have been #1 on the list. Whatever you do: Don’t try to do it all yourself. You will quickly find yourself scrambling to fix critical mistakes that didn’t need to happen—and you may end up burning out before you reach your goals. Delegate the details to the experts!
This means that you’ll need a few key members on your team. For starters, every new company should have a CPA, a marketing/sales expert, and an experienced, well-rounded business attorney. The best way to grow your business isn’t to micromanage every aspect of it. Delegate to the right people, trust their expertise, and watch your business grow and thrive.
For more pro-tips, strategies and proven tools to help your business succeed, give us a call or drop us an email. We’d love to learn more about your business. TLC can help you reach your goals in the most cost-effective and efficient ways possible.