You have probably been told many times that the first year of trading is the most vulnerable for your business. There are shocking statistics about how many fledgling businesses fail within the first 12 months, taking the owner’s dreams and a lot of their money with them!
If you have survived your first year of trading you have already defied the predictions and you are doing well! So, what happens next? What do you do now to continue your success and carry on with a sustainable growth pattern?
Revise all of your approaches
This is the time for a major review of what is working and what is not. You have spent 12 months experimenting and now it is time that those experiments yielded some results. Have you got any lingering problems that experts in web development could help you out with? Make a list of all of the issues that have been highlighted over the past year and chat about them with the passionate and enthusiastic team who can come up with practical solutions.
Look at your social media strategy. Is it generating the traffic to your website that it should be? If no, it is time to re-think your approach. Perhaps you need to change the type of content that you are sharing or even the time of day that you are sharing it!
Perhaps you are focussing on the wrong social media platform. There is no point focussing on Twitter when all of the potential customers in your niche are on Snap Chat!
How big is your network?
If you have not bothered to network at all, this is probably a mistake. The more contacts you have the better for your business. Anyone that you meet at a business event or a trade fair could be a potential partner or customer so it makes sense to reach out to them. They could simply be a source of inspiration and you could end up learning a lot from them.
Networking breeds opportunities but some people find it harder to do than others. If you are in a partnership, perhaps the partner who has the more naturally outgoing personality could do the networking whilst the other partner stays behind to manage the office. It makes sense to work to your strengths.
There are rules of etiquette surrounding networking. The first is that you must always be respectful of people’s time. Pick your moment to approach them but don’t be scared about going up to people and introducing yourself. Don’t hog the conversation and babble endlessly about your business. Show a genuine interest in what they do and what they have to say.
Are you making any money?
This is a controversial subject. Some believe that you should be in profit by the end of your first year of trading. Others feel that this is too soon and will cite examples of highly successful businesses that did not make any money in their first two years. What matters is whether you can manage financially. If you can, it makes sense to keep going!