The wisdom in business leadership is knowing that success is never a guaranteed right. No matter how much money, energy and thought goes into a project, plans can be disrupted at any stage from anywhere.
From large established organizations to the smallest newcomers, there’s always something to keep a leader up at night. For founders who are venturing into the business world for the first time, these early challenges can seem especially daunting.
When you’re starting out the first hurdles are inevitably often financial. Whatever your funding model, it is not just about the cash flow you have, but about having the right resources at the right time and at your disposal to move forward. Setting up a business and keeping everything in place takes time and money.
But despite the advice that you always need to be prepared for the unexpected, there are still time-tested ways to reduce risk when starting a business through due diligence and early planning. Most of these techniques for success come at no cost, and are skills we acquire from an early age.
Follow them closely and your business will definitely be in a better shape.
1. Make Sure You Know Your Market Well
At the beginning of a business journey, investing time and effort in researching your potential market and how your product idea will fit in sounds like basic advice. But have you really done it properly, and given it enough time?
In the early stages of planning, you have promised a minimum of resources. When nothing is decided and something is at stake, it is much easier to change ideas and improve upon them. Make the most of it and learn as much as you can. And are you sure you’re asking the right question?
You’ll want to know the basics, such as how your product will compete and what the market is hungry for. What needs or wants can your business meet? But there are also deeper long-term questions. In which direction is the market moving? Where do you think it will be in five years, and how will you adapt to those changing circumstances?
A roadmap is a great way to frame your plans and force you to think medium to long term. At every stage it is important to ask yourself what you are trying to do. What is your unique selling proposition that sets you apart from your competitors? Will it be sufficient in future? This beginner business plan helps avoid the problems ahead, and costs very little.
2. Assemble a Great Team
You are the founder, the head, the master of all plans and the source of inspirational thoughts in the organization. Okay, but you just can’t do everything, and you don’t know absolutely everything.
There will be areas of knowledge you’ll need to contend with, and that’s why you need experts you can trust to execute the company’s vision and provide you with the information you need.
It helps a lot if you can assemble a team of trusted coworkers and managers from the start and take a team with you as the business grows. These individuals will be with you every step of the way, and their expertise and experience will become more valuable as you grow.
As a leader, your job is not to know more than your teams, but to know that their valuable skills and expertise are part of your business machinery. Your role, then, is to get them on board, communicate the business plan, and maintain a unified vision to keep everyone moving in the same direction.
3. Test your original ideas thoroughly
You should be able to narrow down your main business plan into a few simple, core ideas. They are what differentiate you from the competitors, will attract customers and will be the foundation of your entire business. You need to get this part right before moving on to smaller, less important aspects of your product.
Therefore, it’s worth spending extra time on these key parts of your product and making sure your potential customers respond well to them before moving on.
Testing is key. Releasing those features to a limited pool of users and gathering valuable feedback may reveal to you that some things work better or worse than expected. You have time to make changes, get feedback, and follow up with that audience before opening your doors to the wider market when change is more difficult and the stakes are higher.
4. Be honest with yourself
Emotions can get in the way of making tough choices during your business trip. You may have big dreams, but are you in a position to turn them into reality?
When you see that the right opportunity has arisen, you need to be able to act decisively to take advantage of it. But you also need to recognize what is not the best business option and when not to do it. It is equally important.
Be honest about the things you can do well and the things you can’t. What is really good about your products and organization and what is not? What is really possible? You may want to go in a certain direction, but are you ready for it? is everything ok? Is it the right time?
Sometimes it can be harder to say “no” than to say “yes”. Even if you’ve followed all of this advice, are confident in your plans and certain that your business is in a promising position, there will always be new and different challenges that you may not have anticipated.
Being prepared for the unknown is just one part of business travel that you should expect and be prepared to adapt to rather than fear. How you react to these challenges and the actions you take can definitely leave you and your business stronger and better positioned to deal with the future.
Timur Khabirov is an entrepreneur, designer and investor known as Prequel, Inc. Known as the co-founder and CEO of Prequel, the company behind the mobile photo editing app. Based on AI technology, Prequel was launched in 2018 as a complete package of graphics editing tools for mobile and till date it has been downloaded more than 100 million times by users around the world.
The views expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.
Subscribe to Smartbrief’s free email newsletter on the lead, it’s among smartbriefs Over 250 industry-focused newsletters,