I was asked this week the advice I would have given myself when I started my first business – my advice for start-ups.
There are two pieces, which are just as relevant for established businesses to remember, well as people who are just starting-up.
1. Solve a problem
My first piece of advice is that a business needs to solve a problem and constantly add value for its clients.
When I founded my first business, Retail Profile Europe, the purpose was to create value for both shopping centre landlords and small and start-up retailers.
We had long-term deals with shopping centres which utilised empty space in the common areas and provided them with a new recurring revenue stream.
And we gave start-ups, who found it difficult to find places where they could sell their products, the opportunity to test, showcase and sell them and build a viable business on short-term lets with minimum risk.
At my current business, Bold Clarity, we implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System. This gives founders and leaders a framework to help them manage their businesses more effectively and achieve their goals.
I work with companies in a whole range of situations. Sometimes they are stuck, or are not profitable. Others don’t have the right team in place, or are too reliant on the leadership team or founder. Or they may not be aligned or they may be growing at such a pace they can’t manage it.
2. Have the right financial set-up
My second piece of advice is to make sure you have the right qualified financial resource for the size and scale of your business.
People often think a book-keeper is enough and this may work in some circumstances.
However, being able to capture the right data and interpret what it means for your business is vital.
Not having a qualified accountant can mean you don’t have someone looking strategically at the numbers and interpreting them. This means you don’t have a clear picture about margins and profitability, and no-one shines a light on where the business might be inefficient.
At Retail Profile Europe, we were operating in Russia and Germany, as well as the UK, so our accountant had to play currency markets, do bridging models for finance, and monitor and strategically plan how to pay back debt they took out as a company.
Having a properly qualified accountant, with experience to match your business needs, will give you the strategic overview you need, and can prevent all kinds of difficulties.
So, there are my two pieces of advice for start-ups: solve a problem and have proper financial support. What would yours be?