Year one: A survival guide


Many small businesses don’t last to see their one year anniversary. There are a few things to keep in mind that will give you and your business a chance at surviving your first year.

  1. Operating your own business is not easy – Survival requires purpose and passion

    Boldly facing each day with a passion packed purpose is the shield that stands between you and the negative chants of “it can’t be done,” or “what makes you think you can start your own business.” It’s your weapon against the daily grind. A clearly defined purpose is your roadmap that keeps you from taking the path of least resistance.

    You’ll face more resistance in the first years of business until you create a track record of small and large successes, while overcoming a variety of failures and obstacles. But if you have a clearly defined purpose, backed by passion that embraces your mission, you will have a good chance of surviving year one.

  2. Surround yourself with capable people who share your vision

    Share the purpose of your business with friends, family and total strangers. Make alliances with capable people who enthusiastically share your vision. Distance yourself from the naysayers who can give you a list of reasons why you shouldn’t quit your day job.

    Some of the people that share your vision will be a network of encouragement – believe me you need these people. These visionaries will support you in many ways, finances, services, referrals, or spreading the word about you and your passion backed purpose.

  3. Embrace outsourcing

    The key to keeping your passion alive is to outsource many of the mundane tasks necessary to keep your business functioning. Outsourcing these mundane tasks will free up tremendous amounts of creative energy so you can focus on building your business.

    Cloud computing has made collaboration with a virtual assistant or freelancer super simple. There is no shortage of freelancers that specialize in mundane tasks – freeing you up to increase revenue generated by your business.

  4. Be willing to be a salesperson – if you’re not then hire one

    Sales are the life blood of your business. For some business owners it is just scary to think of themselves as a salesperson. Infuse your conversations with your passion backed purpose when you tell people about your business. Your enthusiasm will be infectious. Guard this passion and enthusiasm from energy drains caused my mundane work or negative people.

    If you love your idea but simply cannot come to terms with the concept of “selling” anything to anybody then hire a salesperson. You might find someone in your support network of friends and family that believe in your business purpose and would be willing to be your salesperson.

  5. Count the costs

    There are a lot of costs associated with starting a business that you might not realize when you first entertain the idea. Cost you might not have accounted for are things like entrance to trade show fees, gas and food during a full day of prospecting, hosting and building a website. There may be more for your particular business. Discuss your business with a business coach and qualified accountant to discover and budget for these hidden costs.

  6. Always learning

    Some business owners get so focused on the details of running their business (getting the idea off the ground) that they neglect to stimulate mental energy through learning. Read a biography of a successful entrepreneur. Learn from other business owners. Hire a business coach. The more you stimulate your mental energy the more creative you will be.

  7. Always Leveraging

    Leverage the use of tools to help you automate as many areas of your business as possible. There are plenty of tasks that can be automated through the use of apps and cloud computing. Leveraging automation to help you accomplish more will help streamline your operation and serve customers more efficiently. Outsource this operation to a technical freelance partner.

  8. Don’t lose sight of the big picture while managing the details

    This goes back to having a well-defined purpose. It is also a reminder to not get so caught up obsessing over every single detail of every client project that you lose sight of the big picture and overall operations of the company. Rely on outsourcing, vendors, and other support people to help you manage the details. If you’re not watching the big picture your business will suffer.

  9. Remember it won’t always require this much work – Look to future pay off

    The first year will be the hardest. But remember, it will not always be this hard. As you get better at meeting the needs of the market, your business begins to build momentum, and you will enjoy the fruit of your labor. There is a point when the business begins to take on a life of its own.

  10. Stick with it – sometimes great ideas take time to catch on

    Be prepared to stick with your passion backed purpose. Be prepared financially – that’s what most of the business experts will tell you. What I want to add is to be prepared mentally and emotionally for the time it takes to engage the marketplace with your innovative idea. The game changes the longer you stick with it.

  11. Prepare for the emotional investment and emotional exhaustion

    Being an entrepreneur can be emotionally draining. Sharing your passion all day – ever day – can empty you of creativity. Be prepared for this and invest in your mental health. Take time to laugh while doing business. Some of the tips above will contribute to your emotional strength to go the distance. Pay attention to those exhilarating days that leave you emotionally exhausted – take the time to refuel.

  12. Always Living

    You are NOT a business owner – hear me out on this one – you are MORE than just a business owner. You may be a spouse, or parent, always a friend. Don’t forget that you have a life outside of your business. Don’t neglect this life. It will support you or be gone when you finally get ready to acknowledge it. Chose day one of your first year in business to take time to just live and enjoy life.

We want to know what you think. Are you more motivated than ever to start your own business? Will this help you push through to year two? Or, have you now decided to keep your day job? Leave your comments below or reach out to us Twitter and Facebook.

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Guest bloggers for the TDS Business Blog.

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