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Not everyone has the drive to start their own business. Even deciding to press ahead and take that risk is a massive first step, and one to be applauded. We need that entrepreneurial spirit and mindset in the world in order for innovative new businesses to emerge.
However, it’s important to take things slowly and wisely. You need to consider all of the steps that need to be taken to open a business. You also need to be mindful of areas where you might fall.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 20 percent of businesses fail in their first year, with half of all small businesses failing in their fifth year. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, you must consider your business from all angles.
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Protect yourself, your vision and your business by addressing these aspects that many entrepreneurs overlook:
Sustainability is an issue that’s become increasingly important to employees and the general public. Employees want to work for environmentally-conscious businesses, and people want to support sustainable organizations. Have you considered how you will make your business more environmentally-friendly? How sustainable is your business? Are you more sustainable than your competitors?
There are several factors you can consider in terms of business sustainability. Make this a priority from the very start, and this will demonstrate your commitment.
- Company values
You have probably heard about this already, but do you truly understand the importance of clearly-defined company values? Your company values will dictate your company culture, and they will determine how you hire, fire, promote and reward.
Your company values will influence every business decision you make from start to finish. Are you a creative, dynamic business that prioritizes flexibility and autonomy? Are you going to make entrepreneurship and innovation core company values, giving employees time to explore and build new ideas that might expand the company?
Take the time to draft a short and clear list of company values. Make sure your future employees are aware of these values from the moment they are interviewed. Put the list on your website, on your office walls, and be sure to discuss them often — otherwise they will likely be forgotten, and your company might lose its way.
Related: 9 Highly Successful Entrepreneurs Reveal the Biggest Startup Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- Having a clear company purpose
A clear company purpose is so important that some have described it as the key to employee retention. It’s been shown that purpose-driven companies grow and evolve faster than companies with no clearly-defined purpose. Purpose helps new businesses to focus, allows them to set long-term business strategies, and creates a competitive edge. Not to mention, employees are more attracted to companies with a strong sense of purpose. They want their time at work to mean something, and they want to be contributing to something worthwhile that’s bigger than themselves. Simply working 9 to 5 with no clear purpose isn’t going to fulfill anyone for very long.
- How performance will be managed
Before you hire your first employee, you should consider your approach to performance management. Each performance management system is different, and how it is structured and how reviews are carried out will very much depend on your company values and beliefs. Companies are generally moving away from more structured, yearly performance appraisals and are moving toward more flexible, agile performance discussions. These are more informal and forward-thinking than annual appraisals, and they tend to be more productive.
Increasingly, the belief is that managers should take more of a coaching approach to performance management. Instead of ‘“managing performance,” true leaders should be supporting, encouraging and guiding employees to succeed through coaching discussions. You should consider what approach works best for you and your company’s culture.
- Attitude to flexibility
Over recent years, we’ve come to realize the benefits of flexibility for businesses, employees and productivity. This has come to the fore in 2020, with many businesses being forced to work remotely for months. Some companies have had to scramble to put processes in place to ensure performance remains high, but other companies were all set, as they already had flexible working options in place for employees, including the option to work remotely full- or part-time.
There are different types of flexible work. Some companies allow employees to choose their own working hours, within reason. Others allow their employees to work remotely. Some companies have even taken a trusting approach to flexible working, which involves not tracking employee hours at all. Companies that choose to do this decide to track objectives and goal completion instead, seeing this as a more accurate gauge of employee performance.
It’s best to consider your approach to flexible working up-front with the understanding that, in the years to come, flexible working is likely to become more and more commonplace. Companies that choose to ignore flexible working will likely lose out to more forward-thinking competitors.
- A quality website
More than ever, digital presence matters. Clients and customers need to be able to find your business online. If you’re not on page one of the Search Engine Results Page for your desired search terms, it’s likely you won’t be found — and if you are, you probably won’t be regarded as seriously as your competitors if your website isn’t up-to-date.
A good website is something you should certainly invest in. You want to make sure you come across as professional, experienced and knowledgeable. You also need to put careful thought into what language and keywords you use in your copy. Research what your target customer or client is likely to type into Google, and put your focus there.
- A regularly-updated, relevant blog
While we’re discussing websites, remember the importance of regularly updated, relevant and high-quality content. So many businesses make the mistake of not updating their blogs regularly. Even more post content that isn’t really of interest to their target audience. A blog on what you did on your last staff outing might be of interest to you, but it’s not going to convert anyone.
Take the time to create a content calendar. Assign this responsibility to someone on your editorial or marketing team, allocate time to write a weekly comprehensive blog, and you’ll be surprised at how it grows over time.
- Giving back
In the early days, you should consider how you are going to give back, whether it’s to your local community or a certain cause. Giving back is a great way of growing brand awareness. It also shows your employees and your community that you are dedicated to building a corporate social responsibility — it’s not all about the bottom line.