When you first start your business, no matter how elaborate your plan was, you’ll find yourself in need of improvement in many different areas. Now, in order to improve them, each of these areas requires an investment. This isn’t always an investment in cash. Sometimes, we’re talking about an investment in time, effort or attention, which can be just as valuable and just as scarce. With that in mind and in order not to waste your resources (money, time and effort are all both resources and assets, in a way), here are five things you need to focus on early in your business.
The first thing you need to do when starting a business is creating an efficient team. For this to work, you need to start by finding the adequate talent and organizing them into a homogenous work unit. Two of the most important factors for this to work are A) finding individuals with a complementary set of skills and B) ensuring reliable leadership.
For the first one to work, you need to pay special attention during your hiring process and even consider getting some outside help. Recruitment experts or a professional recruitment agency can help you out quite a bit.
As for the leadership, you need to choose a figure of authority (or someone who can eventually become one) and encourage them to develop relationships with their employees.
The next thing you need is a workspace, which is even more complex now that work takes place in both the real and digital worlds. Still, if you’re planning to lease an office, you need to find a place that
A) has enough space,
B) you can afford,
C) contributes to your image and
D) feels pleasant to be in.
The problem with this brief four-item list lies in the fact that first-time entrepreneurs often overestimate the first two while downplaying the significance of the latter two items. As for the digital environment, you need to ensure that your infrastructure (hardware and broadband plan) are satisfactory and that your digital arsenal is adjusted to your industry.
The next thing you need to understand is the fact that every single investment that you make has an impact on the environment. This means that its sustainability and its relationship with the local laws, norms, and regulations might be in question if all you’re concerned about is profit.
Moreover, this is a highly localized issue, seeing as how everything from the carbon impact to the reaction of the local community depends on the region in question. For instance, laws and regulations in Hong Kong are still somewhat different than those in mainland China, which is another factor to consider.
Fortunately, this is not an issue that you have to tackle on your own. So, if you are running a Hong Kong-based company (in order to use the same example), what you need to do is do some ESG reporting in Hong Kong prior to an investment.
Cash flow management
Other than this, you need to invest in a system which ensures that your business is solvent at all times. We’re not just talking about having money on paper. What we’re talking about is having enough cash to cover day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month expenses. Now, there are various mechanisms through which you can achieve this and it’s up to you to make a choice.
You can incentivize immediate payments with a discount, check the credit history of your customers, sell invoices (when needed) or have a close relationship with a debt-collection agency (also to use when needed). Either way, the cash must flow.
The last thing you need is a testing method that will provide you with an adequate feedback analysis. For instance, negative comment and a positive one don’t have the same impact on the image of your company or the relationship that your audience has towards it. You need to see which is which, which is why just estimating the impact isn’t enough. What you should invest in is big data and business intelligence software.
At the end of the day, it’s important to mention that you don’t have to tend to all of this on your own. Outsourcing is one example of assigning your tasks to someone else and delegating various responsibilities to your own team members is another. Only with this kind of resourcefulness can your business thrive and prosper.