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Start-up Advice

How To Manage Your Business After The Start-up

A business management course can help you to successfully transition from start-up owner to fully-fledged business owner, and so can the tips outlined below.

Amy Galbraith

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Owning and running a start-up business is both exciting and daunting, but it is a process that many businesses flourish during and grow out of in a few short years. This change can be confusing to many business owners, as they now have a larger and more fast-paced business to manage. A business management course can help you to successfully transition from start-up owner to fully-fledged business owner, and so can the tips outlined below.

Stop thinking small

When you are managing  your own a startup business, you tend to think about things as a small business. This is great for the starting phase, but, once you grow out of this it can be detrimental to think small as your business continues to grow.

Taking a business management course part-time will help to teach you some management basics that are better suited to a larger company. You will learn how to think about your business in ‘larger’ terms, as a business that is now more established and accomplished. Thinking small only works for a certain amount of time, so it is wise to avoid falling back into this pattern.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

Learn how to delegate

When your business was in its start-up phase, you most likely took on a lot of the work yourself, because you may have had a smaller team or you felt as though you were the only one who knew how to do something.

This has to change when you grow as a business, as you may not have time to do everything yourself. Delegation is highly important and is taught on many business management courses. You can use it to give tasks to people who are best suited to the project and to increase productivity across the board. However, delegation is not abdication, you still have to check in with your teams and ensure everything is running smoothly and correctly, as well as to give advice to employees.

Expand strategically

One of the most important aspects of a growing business is expanding strategically. Rather than simply trying to push out more and more products or services, you will need to think strategically about what areas to expand on to make the best business decisions.

As a start-up, your focus was on growing your company in any way possible, which is an effective way to do business, but once you are out of the beginning phases you will need to start thinking strategically. You could focus on building your brand through product and service offerings or use your network to reach out to other businesses that can provide you with services such as website design or social media management to attract new customers.

Staff properly at each level

Staffing correctly at every level is not the same as finding a complementary partner to start your business. It involves looking for people who have the right talent for the right roles. You will not only have to hire the right people but train them and measure their performance.

Staffing properly at every level of your business could also involve you mentoring less experienced staff and showing them the ropes of your company. You will also need to brush up on your own skills, which can be done effectively by taking business management courses when you have time. By having the right person for the right job, your company will continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

Numbers never lie

One effective way to gauge the growth of your company after the start-up phase is to keep an eye on the numbers; as the saying goes, ‘Numbers never lie’. If this data is used correctly, you will be able to see where changes are needed in your company and how you are performing now that you are no longer a start-up.

Related: Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job To Start A Business

The metrics and numbers you should be looking at include your sales revenue, customer loyalty and retention, the cost of customer acquisition and operating productivity. Keeping a sharp eye on these metrics and numbers is essential for a growing business and will help you to make important and informed business decisions. Managing a business after the startup phase means that you will need to become more analytical and have a more numbers-focused way of doing things.

Aim for continuous improvement

Growing your business from a start-up to an established company means that you should focus on continuous improvement, but keep in mind that this takes strategic thought and an analytical approach. You will need to learn how to stop thinking small and delegate effectively, in order to expand strategically.

If you staff correctly at each level of your business growth, you will have a solid team that will help you to reach new and exciting milestones. Continually improving your business means that you will always be one step ahead of the competition and that your customers will have the best possible experience with your company.

Amy Galbraith is a junior writer at Rogerwilco. She has had a passion for professional writing since graduating from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with a Masters degree in English Literature. She now writes compelling copy for an exciting variety of clients, and enjoys writing on topics including education, finance and millennial issues.

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Start-up Advice

Put On Your Wellies: It’s Time To Wade Into Risk

Entrepreneurs aren’t all leaping into the unknown like lemmings off a cliff, but they do need to consider it…

Chris Ogden

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You’ve had a great idea. You’ve looked into its development. You’ve recognised that it has potential beyond just what Auntie Mabel and Mike From The Grocer think. And you’ve clearly nailed a pain point that can make money. Now it is time to take the risk of running with it.

Every big idea comes with risk. You can’t step out into the world of entrepreneurial thinking and business development without it. Your idea may fail. It will also be time consuming, demanding, hungry for money, and hard work. It is unrealistic to expect that your project will leap out into the world and be an unmitigated success.

It is also unrealistic to assume that it isn’t worth taking this risk.

There are steps that you can follow to ensure that your risk is managed so you aren’t blindly leaping off that cliff…

Step 01: Do your research

No, canvassing your neighbours, friends and family is not doing research. You need to know that your idea will appeal to a broad market and that it will have significant legs. This may sound like daft advice, but you would be surprised how many people think an idea will take off just because Susan in Accounting said so.

Step 02: Understand the costs

Projects are hungry for money and investment. Realistically work out your budgets and how much it will cost to take your project off the ground and then stick to it.

A calculated risk is a far better bet than one that shoots from the hip and hopes for the best. You can also use this as an opportunity to draw a clear line under where you will stop investing and end the project. If it keeps eating money and isn’t getting anywhere with results you need to be able to walk away.

Step 03: Know when to walk away

As mentioned before, this can be defined by a line you’ve drawn in the proverbial sand (and budget) but no matter where you draw this line, you have to stick to it. Often, when time, money and energy have been poured into a project it can be incredibly hard to walk away.

You think ‘but I have put so much into this, just one more’ and then it gets to a point where the ‘just one more’ has taken you so far down the line that walking away feels impossible. Leave. Learn the lessons. Apply them to your next project.

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Start-up Advice

Mind The Gap

The entrepreneur’s guide to finding the gaps and building the right solutions.

Chris Ogden

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Innovation may very well be the key to business success but finding the gap into which your innovative thinking can fit is often a lot harder than people realise. Some may be struck by inspiration in the shower, others by that moment of blinding insight in a meeting, however, for most people finding that big idea isn’t that simple. They want to be an entrepreneur and start their own high-growth business, but they need some ideas on how to find that big idea.

Here are five…

1. Network

It sounds trite but networking is actually an excellent way of picking up on patterns and trends in conversation and business problems. The trick is to note them down and pay attention. Soon, you will find patterns emerging and ideas forming.

2. Look for pain

Just as networking can reveal trends in the market, so can spending time reading. The latter will also help you find common business pain points. These are the touchpoints that frustrate people, annoy business owners, affect productivity, or impact employee engagement.

Be the Panado that fixes these pains.

3. Luck

luck

This is probably the most annoying of the ideas, but it is unfortunately (or fortunately) very true. Luck does play a role in helping you capture that big idea. However, luck isn’t just standing around and random people offering you opportunities. Luck is found at networking events, it is found in research and it is found in conversations with other entrepreneurs.

4. Luck needs courage

You may have found the big idea through your network, a pain point or pure blind luck, but if you don’t have the courage to take it and run with it, you will lose it to someone else.

Being bold in business is highly underrated because most people assume that everyone is bold and prepared to take big leaps into the unknown. However, not all brilliant entrepreneurs were ready to throw their family funds to the wind and leap into an idea – they were courageous enough to figure out a way of harnessing their ideas realistically.

5. Pay attention

This is probably one of the most vital ways of finding a gap in the market. Often, people are so busy that they don’t really pay attention to that niggling issue that always bothers them on a commute, or in a mall, or at a meeting. This niggling issue could very well be the next big business opportunity. Pay attention to it and find out if that issue can be solved with your innovative thinking.

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Start-up Advice

5 Things To Know About Your “Toddler” Business

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind.

Catherine Black

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Ah, toddlers. Those irresistible bundles of joy bring a huge amount of energy, curiosity and fun to any family – but there’s also frustration and worry that comes with their unpredictability, as they grow and start to become more independent. If you own a business and it’s successfully past its “infancy” of the first year or so, it’s likely it will also go through a toddler stage of its lifecycle.

Pete Hammond, founder of luxury safari company SafariScapes, agrees with this. “Our business is now three and a half years old, and we’ve found that we’re not yet big enough to justify employing a large team of people to handle the day-to-day admin tasks, yet we still need to grow the business as well,” he says. “As a result, our main challenge is finding the time to step back and see the bigger picture. Kind of like when you are raising a busy toddler and you spend most of your time running after them!”

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind:

1. This too shall pass

Everything in life is temporary – and that goes for both the good and the bad. It’s as helpful to remember this when you’re facing the might of a toddler temper tantrum, as it is when you’re facing throws of uncertainty in your business. If your new(ish) venture is going through a rough patch in its first few years, it can be easy to think about giving up – but don’t. As long as you have an overall big idea that you believe can add value to your customers, keep pushing through the rough parts until you come out the other side.

2. Appreciate what this phase brings

The toddler years mean that the initial newborn joy is officially behind you. But these small humans also bring their own kinds of joy, as you watch them learn new skills, say funny things, and give affection back to you. While your two-year-old business may not hold the same exhilaration for you as it did during those first few months, there are now different things to appreciate about it: Maybe you’re expanding your product range, or employing new people who can take the workload off you.

3. Establish boundaries

Toddlers thrive on boundary and routine – and your toddler business will too. As it grows into a new phase, try and establish limits in terms of the type of clients you want to work with and the type of work you’ll do. It’s also a good idea to make a decision about the hours you’ll work and when you’ll switch off, which will help you establish a good work-life balance.

4. Take a break

Every parent with a toddler needs a break every now and then, even if that means a walk around the block (on your own!), a dinner out with friends, or even a few days away. The same is true for a demanding small business: every so often, remember to take time out to rest properly, where you switch off your laptop and completely unplug. You’ll return much more inspired and resilient to deal with the everyday uncertainty that it brings.

5. Give it space to make mistakes

While the unpredictability of a young business can be stressful and tiring, it’s also a time for trying new things without the risk of huge consequences if they don’t quite work. After all, it’s much simpler to change your USP if you’re a small business employing a few people, rather than a big company where 50 people are relying on you for their salary, or where you’ve received a huge amount of investment capital. While you may fail in some of the things you try with your business (in fact, this is almost guaranteed), see it as a toddler that’s resilient enough to pick itself up, dust its knees and keep moving forward.

During this phase of business growth it’s also essential to have the right type of medical aid cover. There are medical schemes such as Fedhealth which has a number of medical aid options and value-added benefits to ensure that your health and wellness is taken care of too. After all, the healthier you and your staff are, the more productive your business will be – during the toddler (business) stage and beyond.

While this phase can be frustrating, it’s a sign that your business is growing and adapting, rather than remaining in its infancy, and that can only be a good thing! So embrace the difficulties, learn from them, and watch as your business strides forward confidently into the next exciting phase.

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