The first 100 days in the life of a start up business are the most critical days. Whether it’s dealing with the pressure of building on cash flow or expansion, what actually happens in these first 100 days can determine whether or not the business is successful down the track.
Business Name and Trademark
Before you settle on a business name, it’s wise to investigate whether the domain has been taken, and whether or not the trademark has been registered. While it’s not necessary to trademark a business name in order to conduct business, it can seriously inhibit growth if your company takes off down the track. Take some time to research NameChk.com, a service which lets owners gauge the availability of their business name across a multitude of social networks.
The key to a successful brand lies in having an accurate knowledge of the customer’s expectations. Understand who your customers are, know what the customer wants and expectations. The message portrayed across to the customer has to be simple, one sentence with one meaning. Accordingly, the messaging behind a brand should come before a logo, a colour scheme, or a website. It’s all about telling a story.
Every great business is built on the strength of an idea, but success always depends on how well realised that idea is in a practical context. Business owners often waste time trying to do too many unnecessary things in the early stages of a startup.
After drawing up a business plan, finding customers is the first thing any new business should do. The best place to start is in your own contacts. Contact every person you know in your network. Worry less about business cards and more about who your first clients are going to be.
A database of email contacts is one of the most valuable resources for a business trying to market itself online, so it pays to start compiling one in the very earliest stages. Given that the key to success with social media comes largely from building momentum over time, it pays to get started on platforms like Twitter and Facebook early on so you already have an audience to address once the business finds its feet. For businesses planning to market themselves online, it’s also essential to draw up a list of keywords and phrases to form the basis of a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. Like social media, SEO is a process that you can’t reverse engineer, so the earlier you start, the better.
Cash flow is more than just a profit and loss statement. It’s important to forecast for and factor future costs and profits into your everyday expenditure. The difficulty for business owners is that getting caught up in the day-to-day operation of the business can cause things like cash-flow forecasting to be sidelined in favour of things that directly affect sales. If you know you’re going to have a cash flow problem in February, and you know that now, you can start doing something about it. The key to creating a successful cash flow forecast is to be honest with yourself about how well the business is likely to perform, all things considered.
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