As a new business owner, there are several essential factors to consider to ensure long-term success. Whilst it may be confusing and overwhelming, to begin with, laying carefully considered foundations for your company will allow the smaller things to fall into place.
Legal obligations and protection are usually considered the most important elements to focus on before diving into other sectors such as staff and technology. These aspects are more granular and require close attention to detail. Some are even legally essential, depending on your location, and vital for the whole functionality of your company. Next, you’ll want to consider other operational factors like financing. Once these aspects have been sorted, you can enjoy the hiring process and discover the best marketing techniques in order to promote your hard work.
Here are five of the most important steps to take as a new business owner.
- Organize Your Finances
Well-managed finances are the backbone of any new business—big or small. Without organized accounting practices and a clear understanding of your company’s cashflow, you’re unlikely to thrive and throw. This article and many other great online resources will help you to make an informed decision about selecting the best bank for your business.
Next, you’ll need to set up an adequate bookkeeping system in order to keep track of your finances and avoid any monetary mishaps in the future. Bookkeeping also aids the overall organization of the business as well. If your budget is adequately planned, you’ll be able to manage your expenses more wisely. If you have no idea what your financial situation is, you may fall victim to unnecessary or even dangerous purchases as well as the inability to track your company’s progress. There are several methods of bookkeeping, some of which may cater to your company more so than others.
Potential methods include:
- Single-entry: This option is most suitable for business with little inventory and can be completed within a book.
- Double-entry: This option is suitable for larger companies and uses a transaction balancing system (debit vs credit)
- Hybrid: Combination of cash and accrual
- Use accounting software
- Hire a professional
Whilst choosing a method of accounting is important, there are various factors to consider that may ease stress. Some of these tips include:
- Remaining regular with your financial tracking. If left too long you may risk missing overdue bills and/or invoices.
- Ensuring you track all business expenses.
- Dedicating time specifically for bookkeeping.
- Keeping your personal finances separate.
- Backing up your books digitally: Manual reporting is a good option, but keeping an online spreadsheet may save you time and money, especially if something were to happen to your hard copy.
- If confused, seeking help from a professional instead of suffering through and potentially making errors along the way.
- Ensuring you’re abiding by the correct regulations and laws.
- Protect Your Company’s Intellectual Property
There is nothing more confronting as a new business owner than finding out your fresh ideas and processes have been leaked and used by another company. Identifying what your intellectual property (IP) may look like, whether intangible or tangible, and protecting it against prying eyes is a crucial step in establishing your new company. There are various types of intellectual property, each with their individual benefits and owner rights. It is important to understand the variations between each, in order to ensure that maximum protection is achieved. Automatic protection, however, is granted to certain aspects of your company, including trade secrets (i.e., special recipes), copyright and circuit layouts. Laws may differ slightly depending on the region, so conduct research to determine which categories fit your business best.
Types of intellectual property includes:
- Copyright: Whilst copyright laws differ from country to country, they typically protect a company’s expression of concepts if documented. These may include sound recordings, artwork and books, as well as originally-made software and/or other programs.
- Trade Marks: Trade mark protection involves safeguarding a company’s distinct features. These may include logos, particular lettering, pictures or even smells.
- Patents: There are various types of patents: standard, innovation and pharmaceutical. All protect a company’s new inventions (whether it be a device or process) and how it functions. They deter others from producing and selling the same ideas and products as you whilst allowing you to outsource your manufacturing to others if officially agreed upon. Innovation patients don’t last as long as the other two, which can last between 20-25 years.
- Registered Design: Design rights involve the protection of your product’s appearance. This also allows companies to give permission to other businesses for the use of their original design.
- Seek advice
It may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re new to starting a business then it might be wise to utilize the advice and strategies that other established business owners and experts have to offer. While you may feel invincible, and have checked every box off your list, there’s always more to learn and more areas to improve upon.
Running into problems, small or large, may be inevitable—especially in your first few months as a new business owner. However, some useful tricks and tips from others may help you to avoid or deal with these problems more efficiently, rather than going in blind.
If you’re unsure where to seek business advice and mentoring, you could simply start with family and friends who run their own company. From there, there are plenty free and paid options depending on the type of insight you’re after. Lawyers, accountants and recruiters may be your next wisest step if you’re after guidance relating to your financial situation, business structure, legal requirements and/or the hiring process.
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Other free organizations to consult with may include:
- The U.S. Small Business Administration
- Trade groups
- Small Business Development Centers
- Hiring Employees
Hiring employees for your new company can be a daunting task. There are several legal and social considerations to be made in order to ensure they are the right fit for the job, and a good representation of the company as a whole. Making sure that you understand your own legal obligations to your employees before hiring is also essential.
These may include the following entitlements:
- Federal minimum wage
- Overtime hours
- Mandatory breaks
- Employee benefit security
- Employee protection
- Safe and healthy work environments
- Worker’s compensation
- Medical and carer leave
After ensuring that you understand the rights of the employee and your own legal requirements as an employer, it is time to specify what type of workers you’re looking to hire and why. This will fall under assessing your business needs and hiring accordingly. If you’re able to distinguish what essential skills, licenses and qualifications are required for the job, your screening process will be made a lot simpler. It is also a good idea to evaluate the type of personality you’d appreciate around the office. Sometimes hiring the most qualified isn’t always the way to go if their personality places strain on the company and/or employee interactions.
Once you’ve successfully prepared for and undergone the interview process, and hopefully hired suitable employees, it is vital to provide a proper induction into your business. There is no point hiring an individual only to throw them in the deep end and expect them to survive without some initial help and set-up. Taking the time to show them around, introduce them to any existing employees and/or managers, and ensure they understand their role and obligations within the company is key. There are also health and safety requirements to go through as well as initial paperwork (i.e., contracts, bank details, etc.) for them to complete. Depending on the job, you may have to help them set up a work email, potentially a productivity tracker and other online platforms for communication. It is also important to prepare your worker for any potential online training and/or exams.
Developing a strong marketing strategy early on will enable you to conduct yourself and your business accordingly, and understanding who your target audience is will benefit you greatly in determining how to promote your business. After all, handing out flyers on the side of the street may be enough if you’re looking to reach only locals, but turning to larger platforms such as social media will prove more successful if you’re aiming for bigger returns and engagement.
Focusing on team values and the broader message you’d wish your customers to acknowledge is a good place to start. Rather than blending into competitor businesses with similar slogans, it’s important to remain unique and find an exciting draw that others may not be able to match. Customers often respond well to companies who have similar values to themselves. If your promotional materials are too self-involved and fail to relate to and/or give-back to the client, you’re less likely to attract and maintain a customer base. Appealing to or raising awareness surrounding a certain social justice, humanitarian, political or economic cause may prove more impactful in the long run.
Researching the best marketing methods and promotional tools is another good way to gage both what you can afford and the kind of company expression you wish to offer the world. Your company, for example, may not suit a certain style of marketing and may lose revenue if you place too much emphasis on it. It is often tempting to try every and any marketing technique available, but channeling your efforts towards the most appropriate and effective forms should save you time and money.
Whilst starting a business can be an exciting venture, there are still a handful of essential steps that must be considered. Protecting your intellectual property is extremely important, especially if your company revolves around original processes and concepts that if replicated and used by others would compromise your value and integrity. Targeted marketing and confirming that you know your rights during and after the hiring process are other vital steps. You don’t need to hand-hold your workers for too long, but ensuring they know their role and the overall functionality of the business is essential.
Check out my guide on how to start your business right with tons of useful tips I learned by successfully starting, building, and selling multiple companies.